Codependent relationships can be massively destructive, and have even been described as "relationship addiction" by mental health experts. And if one or more partners is also addicted to heroin, a codependent relationship can become lethal.
In this week’s episode of VICELAND’s docu-series Dopesick Nation, we meet Chris and Rachel, a couple struggling with both opioid addiction and codependency. After moving to Florida a year ago to be with longtime user Chris, 20-year-old Rachel started abusing opioids, became estranged from her family, lost custody of her son, and says she went into sex work to fund both her and Chris's drug addiction. This, according to the series, is a common fate for women in codependent relationships where drug addiction is also involved. In Rachel's case, her codependency was also compounded by her history of sexual trauma.
While Chris’s family is still supportive of him, Rachel feels isolated on her road to recovery—which is only made worse when her boyfriend threatens to kill himself if she seeks treatment at a different center. Though the couple eventually get the chance to go to the same treatment facility, another problem arises: Most legitimate programs do not allow couples to seek treatment together, since that might increase their chance of relapsing. Afraid of separating, Chris and Rachel must make a life-or-death decision: to get help on their own, or stick together.
Those struggling with addiction or related issues can visit the official federal government SAMHSA National Helpline website for treatment information.