Codependency refers to a type of unhealthy psychological and emotional reliance a person has on another, commonly resulting as a need for support due to an illness or addiction. In many cases, relationships can be bound because both people are codependent.

Consider an unhealthy relationship: what is it that keeps two people together? The truth is, love and attraction are not always the strings that tie two people together. In theory, we tend to attract what we are not what we want. In the event of two codependents forming a relationship, in most cases, this bond will only exacerbate codependency traits.

How Codependency Affects Relationships

codependency first step centerCodependency is sometimes referred to as a “relationship addiction.” This is because a desire to feel needed drives these types of relationships. Becoming someone’s caretaker fulfills this neediness. The bond between the two then becomes a sick cycle of give and take. The more the person on the enabling side accepts the emotional or psychological abuse, the more the behavior is reinforced.

An enabler will take on a distorted perspective believing that they are the only ones who can help the spouse, parent, friend. Put simply, when it comes to relationships, two halves do not make a whole.

Signs of Codependency

According to a Psychology Today article, traditionally, codependency has focused on control, nurturing, and maintenance of relationships with individuals who are chemically dependent or engaging in other undesirable behaviors. A classic example of this would be the addicted son and his enabling mother.

By classical terms, codependency would refer to the spouse of an alcoholic. By sticking around and offering emotional, physical, and/or psychological support, that person is seen as contributing to the person’s continual unhealthy behavioral issue, such as alcoholism or narcissism.

Some symptoms of codependency according to psychological criteria include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • People pleasing
  • In effective, or nonexistent, boundaries
  • Reactivity
  • Caretaking
  • Control
  • Dysfunctional communication
  • Dependency
  • Obsessions
  • Denial
  • Problems with intimacy
  • Painful emotions

How Codependency Develops

Codependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from generation to generation. The development of codependency most often begins at an early age. As infants, we are vulnerable and dependent upon a caregiver to provide for us all our survival needs. Growing up in a situation where the parent’s needs are put before the child’s, the child will then begin to take on the role of the unreliable parent.

As the child matures, their understanding of what a relationship looks like mimics what they learned from their relationship with the parent. In other words, they will end up seeking out individuals who need to be emotionally, psychologically, and/or physically supported.

Recovering from Codependency

Recovery from codependency is possible. Depending on where you live, many communities offer support groups for codependents designed after traditional 12 step support groups. For those suffering from addiction, there is a likelihood that they are also codependent. In order to identify and treat the whole spectrum disrupting a person’s well-being, a dual diagnosis is critical in order to affect a total recovery.

In addition to offering dual diagnosis treatment, First Step Center of Arizona provides individualized care for each client. With only 10 beds, our all-male clientele benefit from receiving a personalized treatment program tailored to meet specified needs.

We offer mens mental health programs and therapies like:

Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. Everyone deserves to build healthy relationships. First Step Center understands this sentiment and believes in offering integrated treatment that offers a holistic method in helping you or a loved one get well. To find out more about codependent or addiction treatment, call us now at 866.832.6398.