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Codependency

Originally thought of as behavior exhibited by the spouses of individuals struggling with alcohol misuse, codependency is now understood to be highly prevalent throughout society. Anyone from a dysfunctional family or relationship environment, including one with no apparent issues of substance use, can experience the mental, emotional and behavioral health effects of codependency. The origins of issues of codependency can often be traced back to childhood.

Signs and symptoms

Mental Health America (MHA) describes codependency as “a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another” and “people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.” MHA says that individuals struggling with codependency “view themselves as victims and are attracted to that same weakness in love and friendship relationships.”

Here is a helpful list of signs that may help you determine if codependency is affecting your mental health and wellbeing:

  • Low self-esteem – Constant comparison as a result of hiding feelings of guilt and shame
  • Accommodating others – Sacrificing your own needs too often and rarely saying “no”
  • Poor boundaries – Imaginary lines of self-protection may be too weak or too rigid
  • Overreacting – Inability to recognize the opinions of others and becoming defensive
  • Caretaking – Going beyond empathy/sympathy and needing the fix peoples’ problems
  • Control – Needing others to behave in specific ways to make yourself feel safe
  • Dysfunctional communication – Inability to articulate your needs, feelings, and thoughts 
  • Obsessive thinking – Avoiding present reality by focusing on relationships and others
  • Dependency – Inability to feel good about yourself unless in a relationship
  • Denial – Not facing your problems and blaming others instead
  • Problems with intimacy – Inability to be close, open, and honest with your partner
  • Painful emotions – Shame, anxiety, anger, resentment, depression, and numbness

Risk factors

When a relationship becomes too one-sided, the person experiencing codependency may rely exclusively on the other individual to meet all, or nearly all, of his or her emotional needs. This unhealthy behavior can severely compromise the self-esteem of the person in the codependent position.

Likewise, when the person in power is obsessive about constantly fixing the other individual rather than coping with his or her own personal challenges, the codependent cycle of dysfunction is further enhanced. The controlling behaviors exhibited by the stronger personality can become an addiction as that individual gets used to the powerful high of being in-charge and needed all the time. If the other individual gets psychological help and begins to gain self-esteem and independence, the more powerful player may be unable to cope with no longer being the one-and-only emotional focus of the person’s life who is now in recovery.

In extreme cases, the person may begin to undermine healthy behaviors in the other person in a way to keep domination over them. If substance use was an issue, it may almost be encouraged again so that the person has something to fix. Unless these unhealthy codependent relationships and behaviors are identified and fully addressed by professionals, the cycle of emotional addiction — and potential substance use — will repeat and persist in the lives of one or both individuals. 

Codependency treatment for families

A dysfunctional family as one in which members suffer from anger, fear, pain, or shame that is ignored or denied. Underlying problems may include any of the following:

  • A family member’s to drugs, alcohol, relationships, work, food, sex, or gambling
  • The existence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • The presence of a family member suffering from a chronic mental or physical illness

The Multi-day Family Programs at Origins treat the family while the patient receives rehab for addiction. Our team includes licensed marriage and family therapists and counselors who can assist in the vital process of healing. Participants learn the dynamics of families in addiction, the scientific basis of the disease, and the tools for families to recover physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our Origins’ Family Program provides:

  • A confidential group environment
  • Therapeutic, family-oriented support
  • The tools to heal and regain a sense of a better life
  • Open discussions in a safe, supportive environment
  • A new perspective on how to cope with the challenges of addiction recovery
  • Guided communication between family members and loved ones
  • Continuing care planning for family members

Treatment and therapies

Although codependent symptoms will likely get worse if left untreated, with professional intervention and therapy, they can be reversed. The earlier that treatment can begin for couples and families experiencing codependency, the more positive the outcome. Counseling and therapy, psychological interventions, and modalities are effective for those experiencing codependency with the co-occurring disorder of addiction.

Medications

Medications, particularly those that address underlying anxiety and depression may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. This approach can help treat mood disorders that may be uncovered during the treatment process.

Psychotherapies

Evidence-based approaches specific to the treatment of codependency include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), family counseling, and problem-solving therapy.

Origins Center for Brain Recovery (CBR)

Along with psychiatry and counseling services for the symptoms of codependency, psychological and brain health interventions are other options to explore particularly when the patterns of codependency have existed alongside substance use for years. At Origins, evidence-based therapies for codependency and other co-occurring disorders include:

  • Psychological testing and review
  • Biofeedback
  • Neurotherapy
  • Neurofeedback
  • Meditation and mindfulness training
  • Individual and group psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Learn more about Origins Center for Brain Recovery by clicking here.

Continuing care recommendations for long-term success

A clear and specific plan for lifelong care after primary treatment should include individualized recommendations for recovery. The Origins team approach includes Continuing Care Specialists who work alongside our multidisciplinary professionals from the onset of a patient’s stay. These team members take into account the recommendations of a person’s diagnosis and their personal experience during treatment to develop plans that support permanent success.

Continuing care recommendations at Origins may include:

  • Medication management
  • Ongoing counseling
  • Intensive outpatient programming
  • Transitional living
  • Exercise and other wellness activities
  • 12-Step support groups and fellowship
  • Alumni services offered through Origins

Contact Origins Behavioral Healthcare

Today is the day you break the cycle of addiction for good – start your journey to freedom and fulfillment by calling Origins Behavioral Healthcare at 844-843-8935.