Let’s say you know someone who’s sick. This someone is important to you. Better yet, they’re that rare person who’s everything to you. This someone has a problem and needs your help.
So you step up. You take care of them. You see that they’re eating, or at least bring them food. You drive them to appointments. Perhaps a few of those appointments are the kind that only last a few minutes of transaction. Your life begins to revolve around this person. You neglect yourself and your own needs out of devotion and duty. You tell yourself that your level of sacrifice to this person is necessary. Even noble.
It isn’t. It’s also not your fault. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as being addicted to love. It’s called codependency. Codependency always hides real problems, and the two of you will continue this dance until it’s too late for one of you.
Sovereign Health can step in.
Taking care of someone you love is commendable and sometimes necessary. Parents, spouses and friends all look out for each other. However, some relationships can become distorted and unhealthy.
In a codependent relationship, one person sacrifices his or her needs to care for the other, who often has a mental illness or substance abuse problem. The relationship becomes more important than addressing any underlying issues, or even taking care of one’s own needs, which is why codependency has also been described as “love addiction.”
At Sovereign Health of California, we work to repair damaged relationships. We know that, at times, family members and loved ones need additional support for codependency recovery.
What is codependency?
Codependency is a psychological condition in which one person is in a relationship with and provides care for another to meet his or her own emotional or psychological needs. The relationship defines the caregiver’s sense of self-worth, so he or she is often controlled or manipulated by the other person, consciously or unconsciously.
The other person in the codependent relationship usually has some sort of pathological condition, such as a mental health disorder or substance abuse. The codependent person will make excuses for the other person’s unhealthy behavior and allow that person’s disorder to rule the relationship and the codependent’s life.
Any type of interpersonal relationship can be codependent, including those between spouses, romantic partners, children and parents, siblings, other family members, friends and even co-workers.
Symptoms of codependency
Codependency is a complicated psychological condition, so not everyone will display the exact same signs or symptoms, but there are some similarities. Codependent people value the relationship more than they value themselves. In these relationships, the attention and energy of the codependent becomes focused on the other person, who is often ill or has an addiction. People who are codependents often have some of the following traits:
Cause of codependency
Childhood strongly influences whether people unconsciously seek out codependent relationships when they are older. Studies have shown that people raised in dysfunctional families or with a chronically ill parent are at high risk of becoming codependent. Additionally, children who were abandoned or abused or have parents with a disorder tend to look for similar relationships as an adult.
Types of relationships at risk of being codependent
The kind of relationships most at risk of having at least one member becoming codependent are those where one person has some type of ongoing problem. The problem could be substance abuse or addiction, a mental health disorder, a chronic illness or some other circumstance requiring help from another person. People who are narcissistic, have poor impulse control or are selfish are perceived by the codependent as damaged or broken. Codependent people get gratification from trying to fix someone or from feeling like a martyr.
Problem of codependency
The codependent puts the other person’s needs above his or her own welfare, which can lead to mental health disorders or substance abuse problems on the part of the codependent. Furthermore, the person with the problem enabled by the codependent does not get the help they need, so the problem only worsens.
Codependency requires treatment just like substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Psychotherapy is an important treatment tool that can help a person with codependent behavior patterns learn to overcome self-destructive habits and have healthier relationships. Treatment for codependency also puts an emphasis on how to love oneself and learn to put oneself first. For some people, leaving the relationship is the most important step he or she can take in order to regain control and help oneself.
Although there are support groups for codependency, it is hard to find dedicated codependency treatment centers. Some facilities, such as Sovereign Health, offer family therapy in order to help rebuild relationships. Sometimes, a person does not realize that he or she has codependency problems. Undergoing family and relationship counseling with the person who has entered a treatment program can help rebuild the relationship as well as identify and work on codependency behavioral patterns.
Meditation, stress relieving activities, yoga and similar beneficial therapeutic activities can also help a codependent regain control over their life. There are also support groups that help people with codependency, such as Al-Anon, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Nar-Anon, Ala-teen and Codependents Anonymous. These support groups can help a person remain in control and not let another person or relationship become more important than the health of one’s self.
Sovereign Health of California
Sovereign Health Group understands the effect one person’s behavioral problem, such as addiction or depression, can have on an entire family. In addition to family support programs, we offer educational seminars and family therapy, with and without the patient and case management. Families learn about the patient’s problem, the recovery process, the importance of continuing care and the dangers of codependency.
A codependent person might also have their own mental health, substance abuse or addiction problems. At Sovereign Health, we offer treatment for a variety of behavioral health problems. We treat the individual holistically in order to heal all underlying issues, including codependency. You can also contact our admissions team at 866-629-0442 for a confidential assessment.