Codependency is a learned behavior, and what is learned can be unlearned.
Codependency is a type of dysfunctional relationship in which one or both partners put the wants and needs the other before their own, often resulting in the the perpetuation of one partner’s addiction, poor mental health, or under-achievement. It is also also referred to as a “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often pursue and maintain unhealthy, one-sided and/or emotionally abusive relationships. Studies have shown a correlation between dysfunctional family life during childhood and adulthood codependency, which can be characterized by the following symptoms: denial, low self-esteem, control, compliance people-pleasing, care-taking, obsessions, and dependency. It is important to note that you don’t need all of these symptoms to be considered codependent. Moreover, these symptoms can get worse if left untreated, or they can be reversed if treated properly. According to the New York Times, 96% of Americans are codependent, so chances are, you’re codependent too.
Breaking the cycle of codependency involves the same three steps as any behavioral change:
- Awareness: Recognize the problem.
- Acceptance: Normalize the problem.
- Action: As Albert Einstein said, if you always do what you aways did, you will always get what you always got.
Learning new patters of relating can be a difficult process that often requires the professional support of a specialized counselor or support group. Below are a list of helpful codependency resources:
- Codependency Anonymous (CODA) is a twelve-step program for people who share a common desire to develop functional and healthy relationships. CODA’s peer-support meetings can be found at: http://locator.coda.org/.
- Al-Anon is another twelve-step program fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics. A list of Al-Anon meetings can be found at: https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/find-an-al-anon-meeting/.
- SMART Recovery (Self Management and Recovery Training) is a non-12 step program that combines motivational, behavioral, and cognitive therapies in order the help people recover fromaddictive and unwanted behaviors. SMART Recovery meetings can be found at: https://www.smartrecovery.org/local/.
- Psychotherapy can help codependent individuals learn to improve their self-care, set healthy boundaries, and understand how childhood experiences may contribute to dysfunctional nature of their relationships. Psychology Today is a resource that provides detailed professional listings for psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, support groups and treatment centers: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/
- Codependency No More Podcast includes a series of free interviews with codependency experts, discussions on impactful tools for codependents, and personal stories of codependency from our audience. The podcast can be accessed on Codependency No More’s website, or at: http://www.codependencynomore.com/category/podcast/.
- Addiction.com offers a free codependency quiz for those questioning if they may be codependent: https://www.addiction.com/5848/codependent-relationship/