What Does Codependent Mean?
Codependency is defined as “a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.” In other words, individuals who are codependent put other’s needs before their own and feel like they are helping them by doing so.
In reality, codependent people are not helping the other person; they are enabling them (meaning that they are justifying their negative actions and behaviors), resulting in a never-ending cycle of negativity for everyone. When individuals are enabled, it results in them feeling as though they are allowed to keep engaging in their negative behaviors.
How Can Addicts Be Codependent?
Addicts may become codependent as a way to excuse their addiction. Those suffering from drug and/or alcohol abuse may lose their relationships with friends and family members because of it, so addiction usually involves more people than just the addict. Addicts will use the behaviors and actions of other people to justify their own negative behaviors. There are two main ways that addicts can become codependent:
- People pleasers — One way that drug and/or alcohol addicts can become codependent is by becoming people pleasers, meaning that they try to control their environment by seeking to satisfy the people around them.
- High expectations — Another way that addicts may become codependent is by setting their expectations extremely high, then using the disappointment that follows as an excuse to continue their addiction.
What are Some Characteristics of Codependent People?
Codependent people may have low self-esteem, lack of personal boundaries, denial of feelings and behaviors, controlling behaviors, feeling guilty or shameful for other people’s problems, and perfectionism. Since addicts might use other people’s behavior as an excuse to continue their drug or alcohol addiction, it could stem as a result of abuse or neglect as a child.
How Can Co-dependency Groups Help Addicts?
Codependents Anonymous (CODA) is a co-dependency group for recovering addicts who deal with this problem. Co-dependency groups allow individuals to learn a variety of skills, such as…
- Learning to let go — Co-dependency groups allow recovering addicts learn how to let go of the things that they can’t control. Codependent people tend to have controlling personalities, so these groups educate them on the importance of letting consequences just happen naturally.
- Stress management — Becoming emotionally attached to everybody else’s problems places a lot of weight on the person’s shoulders. Co-dependency groups teach people that they do not have to be stressed about other people’s problems because they cannot control them.
- Building personal boundaries — These groups teach the value of letting people do their own thing while allowing them to focus on themselves. The only person that they can control in the world is themselves, and it is important for them to realize that they cannot interfere in the personal lives of others to the extent that they are.
- Responsibility — These groups help people to understand the concept that individuals are responsible for their actions and that they cannot control the actions of others. Realizing this concept can help them learn to start taking responsibility for their actions, resulting in them not blaming everybody else.
- Social Skills — Conflict resolution, communication skills, and healthy social behaviors can be learned from co-dependency groups by encouraging them to develop social skills. Social skills can help recovering addicts in the addiction recovery process by educating them on how to mend broken relationships with their families and friends.
How Can a Co-dependency Group Contribute to Long-Term Recovery?
Not only can co-dependency groups help individuals to overcome their addiction, but they can help them avoid relapsing in the future. Relapsing is when a person who was once addicted to substances becomes sober for a period of time, but then falls back into the cycle of addiction once their treatment is over.
Co-dependency groups equip individuals with the skills they need to overcome addiction and stay sober for the long-term. For example, many previous addicts will relapse due to stressful situations that arise in life, but with the help of co-dependency groups educating them on stress management, they will be able to turn to healthy outlets for stress. The skills learned in these groups will be carried with the individuals for the rest of their lives.
Call A Forever Recovery at our toll-free number today if you or a someone you know is suffering from addiction. At AFR, patients become educated on the necessary steps they need to take to achieve long-term sobriety. Call today to get started on your journey to a healthy lifestyle!