Codependency Treatment Center
There are a number of definitions of codependency. Some define it as a dysfunctional relationship with the self characterized by living through or for another, attempting to control others, blaming others, a sense of victimization, trying to fix others, as well as intense anxiety around intimacy.
Codependency is also considered by some as a psychological condition in which one person exhibits too much (and often inappropriate) caring for and about other people’s problems and issues.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “codependency occurs when another individual, perhaps the addict’s spouse or family member, is controlled by the addict’s addictive behavior.” Some codependents are adult children of alcoholics or addicts. Their codependent behavior is the result of growing up in a dysfunctional environment. NIDA further says that “enabling behavior occurs when another person, often a codependent, helps or encourages the addict to continue using drugs, either directly or indirectly.”
The central feature of codependency is “an unhealthy dependence on relationships, usually in an attempt to avoid the feeling of abandonment.” Symptoms of codependency include:
- Controlling behavior
- Mistrust of others
- Avoidance of feelings
- Constantly seeking approval
- Low self-esteem
- Fear of abandonment
- Feeling responsible
- Avoidance of other relationships
- Excessive caretaking behavior
- Inability to see alternatives
- Hypervigilance, a heightened awareness for potential threat or danger
Many codependents have attachment injury, intimacy disorders, were victims of childhood trauma due to sexual or domestic abuse, had parents or siblings with addictions or have addictions of their own. For example, a child with an alcoholic father could grow up to be attracted to partners who drink excessively.
While an addict is undergoing treatment and/or is in recovery, often the partner left behind, the codependent, receives no help whatsoever. This is disastrous, not only to the addict, but also to the codependent. Without assistance and support or some kind of professional therapy and treatment, the codependent cannot begin to change their distorted way of thinking. The relationship cannot, therefore, be sustained on a healthy level.
Codependency recovery is a process, just as overcoming addiction is a process. It is often painful, as the codependent person has to wade through a lot of denial, self-survival tactics and unhealthy coping mechanisms developed over time. Codependents often have an addiction to one or more substances or behaviors, things they use as a means of coping with pressures and stresses of living with an addict. Sorting through all this takes time and professional help. Rely on your support network, your counselors and 12-Step allies, and caring family members and friends.