Codependency is often found in families and couples where someone in the family has a problem with an addiction, such as alcoholism. It is also seen in people from families that were overly rigid, such as homes with extreme religiosity.
There are many definitions used to talk about codependency today. In the area of codependency and addiction treatment, the original concept of codependency was developed to acknowledge the responses and behaviors people develop from living with an alcoholic or substance abuser. A number of attributes can be developed as a result of those conditions.
However, over the years, codependency has expanded into a definition which describes a dysfunctional pattern of living and problem solving developed during childhood by family rules.
Codependency in the Addictive Relationship
One of many definitions of codependency is: a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress. Maladaptive refers to a person’s inability to develop behaviors which get needs met and compulsive behaviors are where a person acts against their own will or conscious desires in which to behave.
The sources of great emotional pain and stress in the family or couple are usually chemical dependency, chronic mental illness, chronic physical illness, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, divorce, hypercritical or a non-loving environment.
Addiction as a Family Disease
There’s the school of thought that addiction and codependency share the same roots. Just as the alcoholic or addict is addicted to a substance, the codependent is addicted to some person, place or thing, such as the relationship with the alcoholic or addict. This dynamic is seen more often than not in the immediate family of the addict.
I have over twenty-five years experience counseling addicts, alcoholics, and family members, as well as addressing the needs of Adult Children of Alcoholics (A.C.A.). As a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor, I can help with family counseling or intervention when it is needed.
Couples Counseling in Recovery
For the couple struggling with the problem of addiction, counseling is as essential as recovery. As a Registered Addictions Specialist, I have a keen insight into what it takes to help a couple survive addiction and recovery.
Treating a couple with a substance abuse problem can be complex. Even once both partners are in recovery, the work can be challenging. Without the addiction or codependency to mask underlying problems, repressed issues can emerge. Still, there is great hope for these couples if they are committed to their recovery.
Although it’s common knowledge that codependency can support the continuance of addiction, couples therapy can actually help to make a partnership a satisfactory medium for recovery for both the addict and the codependent. I’m cognitive of this fact in the work I do with couples with alcoholism or addiction.
Getting Help for Codependency
I know how difficult it can be to recover from codependency. It takes hard work, perseverance, and a good therapist to illuminate the path of recovery.