Co-dependency is the term often given to family members of those with addictions if they begin to exhibit similar characteristics to those displayed by their addicted loved one.
The family unit is one that can be described as being similar to a tree, with various branches growing in all directions but all with the same root. The actions of one family member can seriously affect the other members. If one person is diagnosed with a serious illness, such as addiction, it can have a devastating effect on the other members of the family.
Family members react in different ways to one member’s illness. Some will want to do everything they can to help their loved one while others may experience feelings of anxiety, distress and even denial. When the illness is addiction, it can be more complicated. Those with little experience of this illness may blame the addicted person and feel anger towards them. Others will blame themselves and will feel guilty and powerless.
When a family member begins to obsess about their addicted loved one to the point where it takes over his or her life, he or she is described as being co-dependent.
A loved one with co-dependency will live his or her life around the needs of the addicted individual. They may change their behaviour to cope with the unpredictability of living with a person who is dependent on a chemical substance. Those with co-dependency may display certain characteristics, which can include:
While co-dependency is commonly associated with family members of those with addiction, researchers have found that people can be diagnosed as being co-dependent when they become so obsessed with another person that their own happiness takes a back seat. Co-dependency, therefore, exists beyond addiction and is thought to be a learned behaviour.
In fact, co-dependency is something that many children learn from their parents, and it affects their ability to form healthy relationships with others.
Those who develop co-dependency are often involved in destructive relationships that can be physically or emotionally abusive. Some co-dependent relationships are a combination of both forms of abuse. In a co-dependent relationship, it is common to see one person becoming obsessed with the care of the other person. They may begin supporting or enabling their partner’s poor mental health or addiction and will make enormous sacrifices for their loved one in order to gain their approval.
Below are a few of the traits that a person with co-dependency typically displays:
Co-dependency is a mental health disorder but it can be difficult to treat as those affected are rarely able to see any problem with their behaviour. Nonetheless, here at Liberty House Clinic, we have a team of professional counsellors and therapists with the knowledge and experience to deal with patients suffering from co-dependency. We use a range of techniques and approaches including cognitive behavioural therapy, one-to-one counselling, and group therapy sessions.
Our highly qualified staff believe that every patient is different and that those suffering from co-dependency need help to understand that they are valuable as a person and that they do not have to save everyone. They are then taught to recognise the triggers for their maladaptive behaviour and how to change it for more positive behaviours.
If you or someone you love is suffering from co-dependency, contact us here at Liberty House Clinic today for more information on our treatment programme and how we can help you to overcome your problems.