Let’s say you know someone who has a problem. This someone is important to you. Better yet, they’re that rare person who’s everything to you. This person tells you time and time again that you’re the only one who can help them, and you start to believe it, because sometimes being needed is a good thing.
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.
That’s because the two of you keep going down this same path. They fall, you catch them – and imagine the guilt if you didn’t. Remember, you’re the only one that can help them.
You’re not – you’re being manipulated and perhaps unwittingly. 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.
It’s hard to fault a caregiver. 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, a substance abuse problem or both. 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 called, “love addiction.”
What is codependency?
Codependency is a psychological condition in which one person is in a relationship with and provides care for another benefitting 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, like a mental health disorder or substance abuse. The codependent person will make excuses for the other person’s unhealthy behavior, allowing that person’s disorder to rule the relationship and the codependent’s life.
Any type of interpersonal relationship can be codependent. Family members, romantic partners and even coworkers can become codependent. Generally speaking, codependent people value the relationship more than they value themselves.
What are codependency’s symptoms and causes?
Codependency is a complicated psychological condition and not everyone will display the exact same signs or symptoms. Codependent people often share common traits, including:
Childhood can strongly influence people unconsciously seeking out codependent relationships later in life. 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.
How is codependency treated?
Codependency requires treatment just like any other disorder. 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. Codependency therapy emphasizes loving oneself and how to put one’s needs first when necessary. 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 centers dedicated to codependency. Some facilities, such as Sovereign Health, offer family therapy in order to help rebuild relationships. Participating in family and relationship counseling along 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 his or her life. Support groups like Al-Anon, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Nar-Anon and Alateen address codependents, along with Codependents Anonymous. These support groups can help a person remain in control and maintain proper perspective on relationships and their own well-being.
Sovereign Health of California
The 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.
Codependent people 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 as a whole in order to heal all underlying issues, including codependency. You can also contact our admissions team at 866-629-0442 for a confidential assessment.