Co-dependency is a relationship pattern found between individuals and within families most often when there is active addiction or other mental health issues. Those who are intimately involved with someone struggling with a substance use issue are most likely to fall into this type of connection. Often times there are multiple addictions connected to co-dependency including: alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, sex or another process addiction.
A pattern of unhealthy coping habits is generally established over a long period of time and is typically subconscious behavior. This makes it difficult for those involved to recognize or see objectively. Both people involved in the co-dependent relationship will partake in behaviors that are uncharacteristic of them under other circumstances. Its common for the co-dependent person in the relationship to attempt to diminish their anxiety and lack of control over the situation by trying to appease, “help” or “control” the actions of the loved one with an addiction. Unfortunately, attempts to help often enable and perpetuate the illness.
While the person with the substance use disorder may be obsessed and fixated on their addiction, the co-dependent is obsessed and fixated on the relationship. Both the addict and the co-dependent lose sight of self and become ultra- sensitive to one another’s behaviors. Invariably there are one or more co-dependent relationships in the life of someone with a substance use disorder.
In recovery, our clients begin to look at their part in the unhealthy relationship patterns that have been established. They gain insight and tools for navigating relationship hurdles that will hinder their recovery. It is essential that the family and loved ones who have been engaged in a relationship with the person in recovery also examine their part in the illness. Understanding the dynamic that has taken place is critical for growth. Setting healthy boundaries and establishing new relational expectations is key to the healing of all involved.
Clients at Safe Harbor will be working hard to understand themselves and their behaviors. We strongly encourage loved ones to seek support for themselves. In addition to receiving guidance from our Case Managers and Therapists, we encourage loved ones to explore outside resources to process, understand and educate themselves. Support groups, workshops, books and literature, 12-step fellowships including CODA and ALANON, therapy and spiritual guidance are all methods that can help. Our team will assist those in need with finding the best resources available to them.
Codependency occurs when an individual is trapped in a faulty, one-sided relationship whereby one partner is reliant on the other for satisfying all self-esteem and emotional requirements. This term is also used to describe a union which enables one individual to keep up their underachieving, irresponsible, or addictive behavior. A person who expends all their energy trying to meet the needs of their partner is most likely trapped in a codependent relationship. Moreover, this sort of relationship involves one of the partners continuously making sacrifices to keep the relationship going. Codependency has initially been used to describe the spouses of people with alcohol use disorders. It has since been revealed that the condition is prevalent among the general population. It is difficult to assess just how widespread codependency is but it has been estimated that more than 90% of Americans manifest codependent characters.
Signs of Codependency
Why Codependent Relationships Form
The trauma theory is one of the explanations put forth to describe the origins of codependency. Trauma can be environmental, physical, or emotional and is usually etched in a person’s childhood experiences (8). The experiences that an individual goes through during childhood have a significant impact on a person since children tend to have weaker coping mechanisms compared to adults.
A deeper analysis of codependents reveals that they tend to come from dysfunctional families which affect them physically and mentally. For instance, codependents may have grown up in an environment where they were punished for trying to express their thoughts and feelings or were simply ignored.
Moreover, events such as the death of a parent, illness, or divorce might leave an indelible mark on codependents 8. As such, this may lead to not trusting anyone as they grow up. They may take on the domineering characters of their parents, making them controlling as well.
Codependency is a trait that is generally passed from one generation to the next (8). This means codependents trace most of the traits from the relationship with their parents. Parents may a central role in shaping how their children come to identify. As such, the nature of parental relationships affects how children develop values, identity, and ability to communicate. 8
Children require adequate attention, devotion, and parental guidance to grow into strong and secure adults. As such, it is critical for parents to spend a good deal of time encouraging their children to explore life and have a strong belief in themselves. Moreover, it is important for them to ensure that their children feel secure, loved, and accepted. In the case of codependents, the relationship that they have with their parents is often tumultuous. They either have parents who are too controlling or parents who are physically and emotionally distant. As such, they grow up without adequate confidence which makes them insecure and codependent.
Finding Help With PTSD
Resources for PTSD treatment are increasing in the United States for veterans and non-veterans as awareness grows that it is a real problem that can be effectively treated with the right help.
The NAMI Helpline is a good place for people who are non-veterans to find effective treatment.
THE NAMI NATIONAL HELPLINE 800-950-NAMI
For veterans, the Veterans Administration has PTSD programs offering treatment for combat-related conditions.
NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF VA SERVICES 1-800-273-TALK
Instead of isolation and self-medication, reach out for help if you find yourself experiencing PTSD symptoms, even if the trauma ordeal may have happened months or years ago.
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