Substance use disorder and codependency are two distinct conditions that can each create their own issues. However, they also have some characteristics in common, and can become deeply intertwined if they’re both present in a relationship.

Pete VanDusartz, director of behavioral health for the HealthPartners hospitals and clinics in the St. Croix Valley, puts it like this: “For the person who has a substance use disorder, as their attention gets more wrapped up in their substance use, other things in their life go undone or unaddressed. And the evolution of codependency is that the codependent person starts filling in those gaps.”

Pete also serves as clinical supervisor for the Programs for Change treatment program, and is joined by program managers Brian Bartlett and Brian Francis on this episode of the For Health’s Sake podcast. They go into further detail about the similarities and differences between substance use disorder and codependency, as well as how these two conditions can influence each other. Our conversation covers:

  • How substance use disorder and codependency each develop
  • Other situations that can contribute to codependency
  • How recovery from substance abuse can affect a codependent relationship
  • Recovering from codependency

Help is available – in whatever form you need it

Substance use and codependency are both difficult topics, even more so if they’re happening together. If you or someone you love needs help, talk to a primary care doctor. Your doctor can make an initial evaluation and recommendations, as well as provide resources where you can find additional information and support. And if necessary, they can refer you to a mental and behavioral health expert for more specialized care.