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Codependency occurs when two people are in a relationship that enables the other to try to validate their own self.
This typically occurs in unhealthy or dysfunctional relationships.
Although everyone has some codependent tendencies in relationships, true codependents have a much more serious problem.
In these relationships, there is often one person who feels they need to save others and seeks them out.
They may be attracted to people with substance abuse disorders or addictive personalities.
They may also be attracted to people who are not emotionally unavailable, or who are emotionally wounded.
Codependency is defined as, “a term used to describe a relationship in which, by being caring, highly-functional, and helpful, one is said to support, perpetuate, or enable a loved one’s irresponsible or destructive behavior.”
Although you may think it is kind to take care of someone you love, codependent people may allow themselves to be abused or taking care of someone who is unstable.
These relationships essentially become an addiction to one another.
Codependents can also feel like their relationships give them a sense of worth.
This may give them validation due to their lack of self-love.
Although they hope to get love from others in return, it can become somewhat dangerous.
Codependency can be rooted in childhood if there was dysfunction.
What Does Codependency Look Like?
Codependency is characterized by martyrdom, resentment, frustration, and poor boundaries. This allows there to be distinctive traits and recognizable behaviors. If someone is codependent, or in a codependent relationship, you may recognize a combination of the following characteristics:
- Not respecting when people try to set boundaries.
- Feeling as though they must do whatever their partner says or the partner may leave.
- Inability to set or declare boundaries.
- Acting helpless and manipulating others into taking care of them.
- Rationalizing poor behaviors.
- Having a lack of responsibility.
- Taking advantage of people.
- Denial in relationships of poor behavior.
- Low self-esteem.
- Making themself responsible for the problems of others.
- Trying to control others.
- Feeling anxiety or depression due to relationship problems.
- Taking on the pain of a loved one’s
- Excusing poor behavior.
- Depression and anxiety because of being codependent.
Symptoms of Codependency
Although it is easy to see signs of codependency in a relationship, the symptoms of codependency can be seen whether in or out of a close relationship.
This can occur at any time in your life. As a codependent person, you may feel unlovable outside of a relationship role. This means you may jump from relationship to relationship, and depend on the opinions of other people to feel happy.
The opinions of other people might affect you hugely. This means you will do anything possible to make sure others have a good opinion of you. You may feel guilt or an inability to say no.
Your primary need in life may be to care for others. This is not necessarily bad until you sacrifice your own self-care to take care of others. You may not feel secure or comfortable unless needed.
Unhealthy or Lack of Boundaries
You may not have a sense of boundaries. Whether this is for yourself or others. You may offer advice when no one asks, feel responsible for other people’s feelings, or want to control others in order to feel secure.
Obsession in Relationships
You may feel defined by relationships, which then becomes obsessive. Even if the actual relationship lacks emotional intimacy, you may push to create that for yourself.
How do Codependent Relationships Look?
Many codependent people believe that they can take the pain away from someone else. This is extremely dangerous and untrue. This also allows codependent people to allow threatening behavior from their loved ones. All the while they will actually be using the relationship to feed their self-esteem and self-worth. Codependent caregivers may become affected by the lifestyle of their partner, which can lead to resentment.
The 3 Types of Codependents
- People with addictions: In this case, codependent relationships for those with addictions can be extremely challenging. Not only may codependents provide money for addiction, but they may try to help them instead of letting them go to rehab. This keeps the addicted person addicted and prevents them from recovering.
- People who are abusive: When codependents are in a relationship with an abuser, the codependent may need to follow orders to keep the abuser happy and in control. This might be making excuses for bruises, or simply forcing the codependent to function and please them.
- People-based on peer pressure: Although rarer, the codependent who is more of a people pleaser can often succumb to attempting to be with someone to feed into their demands.
12-Steps For Codependents
Although you may have only heard of 12-step programs for drug and alcohol addiction, codependency has its own 12-step groups as well. Codependency can mirror a disease such as a drug or alcohol addiction. Codependents Anonymous, known as CODA, can help you to recover from an unhealthy relationship. It will help you to build your self-esteem and practice being assertive.
The 12-steps for codependent include:
- We admit we are powerless over others—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn over our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood God.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we harmed and became willing to make amends with them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us to and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other codependents and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.
Treatment for Codependency
Codependency is not something you need to be forced to live with and it can be treated with a variety of methods. If you or even someone you love is codependent, talk to them. Depression and anxiety do not need to occur due to codependency. Do not enable someone who is suffering. There are options to recover.
Especially because codependent individuals may have a family history of substance abuse, it can bring up these issues. You may need counseling and support. If combined with anxiety or depression you may also need treatment medications, and even stability to feel empowered in your life. It is important to know that change is possible.
At Resurgence Behavioral Health we treat more than just addiction to substances.
We also offer programs to teach you about codependency and to help you break free from these emotional chains.
Contact us today to learn about our free insurance verification for treatment.