As we work with our clients to get them on the road to recovery from drugs or alcohol, one of the things we do is look for issues in the client’s personal history that require resolution and trigger points that could cause a relapse. Understanding and overcoming co-dependency is part of the treatment process for many.
Related Blog: Recovery is More than Detox
What is co-dependency?
According to Mental Health America, “Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with co-dependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. The disorder was first identified about 10 years ago as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.”
Why does this hinder recovery efforts? If an individual is co-dependent on another individual recovery efforts can be undermined if the relationship continues. For example, Becky is a female who is an alcoholic. Her boyfriend Brad is also an alcoholic. Brad has a tendency to belittle and be verbally abusive to Becky, which eats away at her self-esteem. She began drinking with Brad trying to dull the pain of his verbal assaults. At one point in Becky’s life, she is in a treatment facility – this may be due to her own decision to change her life, a family intervention or possibly a court-ordered treatment program because she’s received multiple driving under the influence charges. Treatment is difficult for Becky at first. She doesn’t like being away from Brad and worries what he’s doing and who he is with. She spends her time thinking about him rather than focusing on her own issues. Finally, one day in group, she hears another client speak about an abusive spouse. The words ring true to her and she begins to open up to her counselor and other clients about the situation. She begins to understand that the best thing for her is to end her relationship with Brad and get a fresh start on life, but….
Some of the common “buts” are “but, I love him/her,” “but I’m financially dependent on him/her,” “but we have children together,” “but I think he’ll/she’ll change,” “but I don’t want to be alone.” As long as the “but” is part of the client’s belief system and thought process, this individual’s long-term recovery is in jeopardy.
Overcoming co-dependency is challenging for most, but a necessary piece to developing a firm foothold in recovery because the subject of the co-dependent person is also often the trigger for substance use.
At Pathways, we understand that many clients have issues beyond substance abuse, such as co-dependency, and for full success, these challenges need to be overcome. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.
Do you think you have a co-dependency issue? Take a look at the questions below:
1 – When someone else acts inappropriately, I often feel guilty for him or her.
2 – It is hard for me to accept compliments from others.
3 – It is hard for me to say “no” when someone asks for help.
4 – I feel terrible about myself when I make mistakes.
5 – I have an overwhelming desire to feel needed by other people.
6 – I stay quiet to avoid arguments.
7 – I value others’ opinions of me more than I value my own.
8 – I feel resentment toward people who will not let me help them.
9 – I am often preoccupied with other people’s problems.
10 – I feel rejected when my significant other spends time with friends.
If you agree with most of these statements, you possess traits/beliefs shared by many people who are co-dependent. You may want to consider seeking professional help.