Ah yes, it’s finally time to discuss and tackle this animal, so ingrained in addicted family systems it can often become worse than the drug and/ or alcohol addiction itself. There is a lot of stigma attached to this disease as well. It often occurs in those already suffering from substance abuse addiction, and/ or their family members. Nobody wants to be dependent on others, and much less to have a disease that symptoms are over dependence on others and their addictions. However there is plenty of hope, as this disease can be treated similar to addiction through therapy and the 12-step programs Al Anon and CODA. It is important to understand that just as an addiction and substance dependence, it is broad. We also need to be careful, as people can be branded codependent that may not be.
- So let’s look at the top 6 characteristics that would medically classify someone as a codependent:
- Choosing to enter and stay in lengthy, high-cost caretaking and rescuing relationships, despite the costs to you or others.
- Deriving a sense of purpose and boost your self-esteem, through extreme self-sacrifice to satisfy the needs of others.
- Having an excessive and unhealthy tendency to rescue and take responsibility for other people.
- Regularly trying to engineer the change of troubled, addicted, or under-functioning people, whose problems are far bigger than your abilities to fix them.
- Seeming to attract low-functioning people who are looking for someone to take care of them, so they can avoid adult responsibility or consequences; attract people in perpetual crisis unwilling to change their lives.
- Having a pattern of engaging in well intentioned, but ultimately unproductive unhealthy “helping behavior” or enabling.
For many individuals this behavior is learned and has its roots in childhood, usually from growing up in an addicted or unstable home. Children having to take a responsible role in a household with parents who are addicted and/ or unstable is called “parentification”: it is what generally leads to codependency in adulthood. They could also witness one parent unhealthily taking care of the other, and grow up thinking it is the norm, as they have not known or seen anything else. Too often the codependent label is put only on women in abusive, exploitive relationships. It is important to understand that is just one situation, and there are many others out there, male and female, physical abuse and not.
After reading this blog post, if you feel you or someone you know fits this criteria, find all the local resources you can to address this behavior and take your life back. Codependents tend to put their needs and wants aside for others, so we are telling you it's time to put yourself first. Help in the form of 12-step support groups and therapy is out there, please visit the links below for more information.
• Co-Dependents Anonymous