The pattern of seeking the approval of something external in order to develop a sense of internal safety, self-worth, and self-esteem is defined as codependency. The reliance on something or someone else for our identity can quickly become a problem. When obsession over the opinions of others interferes with daily functioning, formal treatment is needed, just like when substance use has reached a level of harmful abuse or addiction.
An Introduction to Codependency
The History of Codependency
The term codependency was first used to describe the dynamic between an alcoholic and his or her partner, or the co-alcoholic. This person enables the alcoholic’s choices and behaviors, usually because his or her childhood was dysfunctional, which often even included an alcoholic parent.
According to Addiction Treatment Magazine, the term codependent was then used to label the person who enabled the alcoholic. While codependency is not a formal diagnosis, organizations, like the American Psychiatric Association recognize codependency as a personality disorder. Others believe that codependency stems from the philosophies created in the human mind from a very young age. Depending upon how someone was raised, how parents modeled behaviors, and what meaning the individual made of the surrounding environment, codependency can become a way of life.
What Codependency Looks Like
Individuals who suffer from codependency find that their moods and feelings of comfort or discomfort are tied directly to how another person feels at that point in time. Frequently, that other person is physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive, and/or is a substance abuser. The codependent individual gives over his or her sense of self, entire identity, and daily level of happiness to the abuser, and the need to influence another person can become so extreme that the codependent individual’s own needs are ignored, even when the results are negative personal consequences.
Subsequently, codependency is considered a voluntary attachment of one’s own self-esteem in the often-delusional hope that the result will be the control of another person’s behaviors. Happiness and security can become so deeply tied to another person that the relationship becomes enmeshed, and the focus of daily activities is solely the relationship.
Breaking the Cycle of Codependency
When codependency can be identified, people on all sides of these relationships can make informed decisions about how to make changes. Family members can learn how to help loved ones, spouses can gain self-esteem to make personal choices rather than completely selfless decisions, and the children of codependent people can break the cycle to eventually engage in healthier relationships.
The identification of a codependent relationship is a great first step. From there, therapeutic interventions are helpful to identify the root reasons for codependency, and how one’s beliefs about relationships are shaping his or her life.
The team at Recovery Now TV has great success in finding appropriate treatment for those seeking help. For more information on how you can heal from codependency, please call Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731.
Characteristics of Codependency
- Low Self-Esteem
- People Pleasing
- Care Taking
- Obsession Over Having Control
- Problems with Intimacy
- Denial of Problems with Substances, Behaviors, or Choices
While the qualities of codependency vary from person to person, and for each codependent relationship he or she is involved in, there are certain characteristics that seem to consistently occur in those deemed codependent. First, the foremost characteristic of codependency is the need to be defined by a relationship, or by the opinion of another person. The mindset that “in order to be worthwhile, I must be needed by another person” is common.
In her book, Codependency for Dummies, Marriage and Family Therapist, Darlene Lancer reveals what she has found to be the symptoms of codependent tendencies:
- Low Self-Esteem
- People Pleasing
- Poor Boundaries
- Care Taking
- Dysfunctional Communication
- Problem with Intimacy
- Painful Emotions
If you compromise your own needs, find yourself trying to control other people, and avoid rejection at any cost, you are displaying characteristics of codependency. As in the case of a drug addict or an alcoholic, believing that you can self-diagnosis and self-medicate to remedy the problem is not accurate. Seeking help for an addict or alcoholic without caring for yourself first is just like not seeking help for codependency.
The treatment centers that Recovery Now TV works with treat codependency as part of the extended program for alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Give us a call today at 800-281-4731 for more information on how to start healing.
Codependency in Relationships
Since codependency is most often a learned pattern of behavior, the cycle is continued on from one’s family of origin to relationships throughout teenage and adult years.
Codependency in relationships is usually not a conscious choice. People absorb patterns of behavior from the first few relationships they witnessed at a young age, and often, without awareness, continue what they have seen. If one or both of your parents avoided honest communication when problems arose, you may do the same. If your parents displayed strength and perfectionism, you may constantly act strongly and exude perfection.
People who operate with codependent tendencies in relationships will often make excuses for the troubles of their loved ones, while sidestepping the real issues at hand. Confrontation is uncomfortable, so avoidance is used. This set of behaviors creates a system where accountability is lacking and harmful actions, like substance abuse, create major problems for everyone involved.
Even when one participant makes an effort to change, the other will work to recapture the cycle. For example, in an effort for more attention, possibly when the person receiving the care-taking no longer constantly needs help, the codependent individual will use depression, isolation, aggression, or extreme passivity to reel the other person back in.
Recovery Now TV has been facilitating the treatment of codependency in relationships with great success, and can help you and your family too. Our reputation for referrals into top treatment facilities in the rehabilitation field is unmatched. By calling our team at 800-281-4731 you can learn about different programs, finding one that best suits your needs.
A major factor in codependent relationships is enabling. The term is generally used to describe the dynamic between an alcoholic or an addict and a codependent person, but it can also be applied to an enmeshed couple. When one person is choosing destructive behaviors, and the other person makes choices that do not deter, but rather support the behavior, he or she is enabling.
An example for illustration is a teenage son who is skipping school and whose codependent mother, upon seeing her son sleeping through the day, calls to inform the school that he is sick. He is not sick; his mother is lying for him. This type of behavior allows the teenager to continue the negative behavior of skipping school. Why would this boy go to school when there are no consequences for sleeping instead?
Codependency, like this teenager’s mother, progresses into a damaging cycle of lost identity, failed attempts at control others, an unhealthy degree of care-taking on her part, and a lack of independent abilities for self-care on his part.
If this sounds familiar, treatment for enabling codependency is available. With Recovery Now TV, you can find the treatment program that addresses your case of codependency, whichever side you are on. Call 800-281-4731 to find out more.
Codependency and Substance Abuse
Codependency and alcoholism go together because they are the two exaggerated sides of a dysfunctional relationship. One person, the codependent individual, has an undying need to help, while the other person, the alcoholic or addict, is able to continue on with destructive behaviors, taking the offered help. The dysfunction grows deeper when the substance abuser justifies choices as a way to show the codependent person love.
Subsequently, codependency plus substance abuse equals a mutual, and negative, reinforcement of each other’s behaviors.
Classified as a disease nearly 50 years ago, alcoholism has been established as a disorder of the mind and body. Alcoholics lose the ability to make good choices for themselves. An inability to stop drinking, the loss of control over drinking, obsession with alcohol, continuing to drink despite increasingly severe consequences to health, jobs, relationships, finances, and freedom, denial of a problem, and a powerful tendency to relapse, or return to alcohol, even after times of quitting, all demonstrate alcoholism.
Without realizing it, an alcoholic will attract and choose partners who enable their decisions. What is easier: An alcoholic being with someone who constantly asks him or her to stop drinking, or someone who always cleans up the mess and makes the alcoholic feel better? When codependency surrounds an alcoholic, life seems simpler, but really each person in the relationship is giving up his or her chances at a healthy life.
The dynamic established between these two people is full of unhealthy coping skills, plus a true belief, by each person, that pain is being reduced for his or her partner. This relationship is nothing but destructive. Both people neglect self-care in an effort to be loved. The devastating work, health, family, and financial consequences of the alcoholic or addict become those of the codependent partner.
Eventually, stepping in to “help” the substance abuser, the codependent individual will attempt to control all behaviors of an addict or an alcoholic. Truly believing that they are capable of saving the addict, codependents devote all time to cleaning up messes. The addict or alcoholic will continue having problems stemming from substance use, and the codependent person will continue to come to the rescue, trying to save the substance abuser.
When completely giving up self-care, feelings of worthiness only come when helping another person. A codependent individual then needs a crisis to occur to show his or her value. Instead of letting an addict or alcoholic deal with the consequences of substance abusing behaviors, the codependent partner fears being rejected or no longer being needed. Consequently, the codependent person may see a partner drunk and about to drive, but does not interject because that would upset the alcoholic partner. The codependent person is putting the dysfunctional person’s needs above his or her own, and above those of the community.
These agreement patterns are often described as people-pleasing behaviors in which the potential reaction of another person negates your own sense of right and wrong. The codependent person’s happiness has become completely intertwined with the substance abuser, and both people spiral down, often to a point of no return. Frequent arguments occur, unrealistic expectations are created, excuses are made for one another, mutual attempts at control are unsuccessful, empty threats damage any real connection that existed, and the cycle of alcoholism or addiction continues.
When someone we love is in pain, we wish to take that pain away and make everything better. When substance abuse is involved, increasingly severe problems with deteriorating health, loss of work, involvement with the legal system, and shattered financial situations are inevitable. For a codependent person, these troubles create endless opportunities to show value by solving problems for the substance abuser.
The result is an addict or alcoholic who is allowed to continue abusing substances rather than facing the consequences. Helping the addict or alcoholic sets up that person’s constant need for the codependent partner. The dynamic established is one of the codependent person using the addict or alcoholic’s mistakes as a chance to show value, and the substance abuser’s inability to then carry on without the partner.
The relationship is chaotic and destructive as the pattern of enabling codependency is used to survive. The cycle is full of disorder and pain, and any other family members involved are negatively impacted by the behaviors.
Recovery Now TV understands that both the alcoholic and codependent members of these relationships must seek treatment. While it is true that the substance abusing behaviors can be the main cause of destruction, the alcoholic or addict is not the only source of the problematic dynamic that has been created. The unhealthy coping mechanisms of codependency are such that destructive behaviors, like those surrounding a substance abuser, are required to create the validation that the codependent partner seeks.
The cycle is possible because of each partner’s choices within the relationship. Consequently, each person needs personalized help to ever make changes.
If alcoholism or drug addiction, plus codependency, is affecting your relationship or your family, Recovery Now TV encourages you to call us for help. We are a highly effective organization that will find the best rehabilitation center for your specific needs.
With proven results in the recovery community, Recovery Now TV has helped alcoholics recover from their disease, and their codependent partners find a healthy sense of self. With counseling for family members and other loved ones, the centers we work with appropriately address the important issues and behaviors of codependency.
Call us today at 800-281-4731 for the answers to your questions and to learn more about the wide variety of programs that will help you heal.
Recovery from Codependency
Seeking a treatment program for alcohol, drug, and codependency problems can be very difficult because change seems scary. The fear of change is intensified when deeply rooted defense mechanisms and methods for coping that have been used long-term are actually self-destructive. While it seems too difficult, formal treatment is the best option. The consequences of codependency and substance abuse will not stop without intervention. By learning new coping skills and better ways to build a healthy sense of self-esteem, people who were in the cycle of codependency and substance abuse can make small changes that greatly impact their lives.
Breaking down denial and getting to the root of shame, fear, guilt, and insecurity give each member of a destructive partnership a chance at a healthier life. While participating in a rehab program, both the substance abuser and the codependent partner can identify a loss of identity, the pattern of happiness being determined by an external object, the problems that became progressively worse, and the desire to control that became intense within the codependent relationship.
An effective treatment program will help identify the destructive thinking and behavior patterns that reinforced codependency and substance abuse. Through individual and group therapy, treatment focuses on shifting responsibility to yourself rather than onto another person, place, or thing. The benefits of effective treatment are feelings of safety and worthiness, and regaining interest in your own life without dependency on anyone else.
Recovery Now TV is ready to help if you are ready to take the first step. Can you admit that your relationships involve codependency? Are you ready to break your cycle of enabling? Call Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731 to learn about the programs we offer.
Al-anon is a 12-Step oriented organization that was created soon after the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). With the same recovery principles as AA, Al-Anon addresses the recovery needs of the people affected by an alcoholic or an addict through spiritual, not religious, efforts with a supportive fellowship.
According to AlAnon.org, studies show that for every alcohol or drug abuser, there are 16 people whose lives are negatively affected. For those people, there is Al-Anon. Healing from the effects of a problem drinker or drug abuser can be just as difficult as stopping actual substance use. Behavioral patterns and coping mechanisms have been ingrained into the thinking, feeling, and overall personality of a codependent person, often to the point of complete denial that the cycle also needs to be broken.
For the people impacted by the addiction of another, codependent behavior may have started in childhood or during one’s teenage years. Al-Anon can help get to the root of the impact an addict or alcoholic has had on your life. When paired with formal treatment, revolutionary change can take place.
With Al-Anon, changes can be made. Participation is free, anonymous, and the meetings, that operate much like AA and NA (Narcotics Anonymous), can be found in every city across the United States. Al-Anon helps relatives, children, spouses, co-workers, friends, and other loved ones develop new coping skills and techniques for self-care.
Recovery Now TV believes that with individual and group therapy and participation in recovery communities like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, entire families can begin healing from the destruction addiction has caused. Many of our clients, have taken the first step toward changing their lives for the better, and have realized amazing results. Learn how to live for yourself and to find happiness through things besides another person.
We encourage you to call Recovery Now TV today at 800-281-4731 for more information about codependency and Al-Anon. The call is confidential and toll free.
Alateen is another form of 12-Step involvement, just like Al-Anon, but specifically designed for teenagers who have grown up with an alcoholic in their household. Alateen members have dealt with alcoholic parents, drug-abusing siblings, and other substance abusing family members often for their entire lives.
17% of children aged 14 and younger, and 20% of children aged 18 and younger, live with a parent or primary caregiver who has a problem with substances. Additionally, 40% of people who experience alcohol for the first time before age 15 will become diagnosable alcoholics some time during adulthood. If alcohol is not introduced until age 20 or later, the chances of alcoholism decrease by 50%.
As you can see, growing up in a dysfunctional environment, where substances are present, is extremely impactful on a young person’s life. Harmful tactics are learned and then used in an effort to ease pain or to create pleasure, either by attempting to control other people, becoming too lenient and allowing another person to take advantage, or by one’s own use of drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.
For teenagers who have been affected by somebody else's drinking or drug use, Alateen is a great resource. The program is similar to that of Al-Anon in that each is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and meetings can be found nationwide with a supportive fellowship of understanding and compassionate peers.
If you, or a teenager in your life, are experiencing extreme difficulty at home, Alateen is worth a try. If you think all of your family’s problems would be solved if drinking stopped, if you have ever tried to accommodate, bargain with, or threaten the substance abuser in your family, if you have tried to control another's drinking, or if you have been put in dangerous situations as the result of substance abuse in your home, then Alateen is for you.
Recovery Now TV will help you find Alateen meetings, and will help you decide if formal treatment is also right for you. Call the team today at 800-281-4731 for more information.
Treatment Through Recovery Now TV
The team at Recovery Now TV helps countless teenage members of families dealing with alcoholism redefine their lives and get on the path to living an independent life. Rather than depending on someone else for their happiness, young people everywhere are taking back control and autonomy.
Recovery Now TV makes referrals to programs that treat codependency. Our team knows that effective treatment for drugs and alcohol includes healing the important relationships in each client's life. The power of codependency surrounds addiction, so we offer help to addicts, alcoholics, and each loved one who has been affected.
Call 800-281-4731 now to find out more!