There is a psychological condition, known as co-dependency, that often accompanies other types of compulsive or addictive behaviour. Moreover, although co-dependency is not necessarily an addiction, it does tend to be compulsive in the lives of those who suffer from it. Because of that, and its relationship to other addictive behaviours, we include co-dependency on the list of issues we provide treatment for.
Unfortunately, co-dependency is something that is not fully understood by the medical and psychological communities. This lack of a thorough understanding means we are left to deal with it as best we can so it does not irreparably harm individuals and their families.
As we go through the explanation co-dependency here, you may find that you or a family member could be suffering from this disorder. Should that be the case, there is no need to continue as usual. You can take advantage of our free helpline to access the treatment options available in Essex and throughout England.
Definition of Co-dependency
Co-dependency is a psychological issue that directly affects how sufferers view the world in relation to themselves. Some argue it is learned behaviour passed from one generation to the next; others say co-dependency is only marginally influenced by past example.
A person who is co-dependent believes it is his or her responsibility to help everyone around them live the best life possible. The disorder is sometimes known as ‘compulsive helping’, as it manifests itself in the co-dependent person frequently taking on the role of helping others. However, when a person is truly co-dependent, the helpfulness goes far beyond what is considered normal. It eventually becomes overbearing.
The co-dependent person eventually gets to the point where his or her whole life is wrapped up in making others happy. If the individual should fail in any of his or her helpful endeavours, they find the meaning in their own life lacking. For this reason, co-dependent individuals tend to be very controlling and manipulative to avoid failure.
Signs and Symptoms of Co-dependency
Despite differences of opinion regarding the origins of co-dependency, experts in the field generally agree on the signs and symptoms that accompany the disorder. If you or someone you love is co-dependent, you should notice some, or all, of the following:
Overreaching Helpfulness – Since the co-dependent achieves personal satisfaction by helping others, his or her helpfulness progressively becomes more overreaching as time passes. The co-dependent individual inserts him or herself in the lives of others with increasing frequency and aggressiveness.
Hero Mentality – The co-dependent person often views him or herself as a hero of sorts, stepping in to save the day whenever a family member or friend gets into trouble. The hero mentality is one that leads to feelings of being underappreciated by loved ones, also known as the martyr complex.
Unrealistic Expectations – A utopian view of the world is common among co-dependent people. They develop unrealistic expectations in the hopes that, with their help, the world around them can be made a perfect place.
Mood Swings – Mood swings are common among co-dependent people as they attempt to deal with their own failures. When they are in the middle of solving a crisis, they are happy; when there is no problem to solve, they are borderline depressed.
Denial – The co-dependent person lives in a constant state of denial regarding the seriousness of problems around him or her. They generally believe there is a quick fix for any problem, regardless of how serious it might be. Hand-in-hand with denial is a refusal to talk about problems in any depth.
The overarching characteristic of co-dependency is a compulsive need to make sure one maintains control at all times. That is one of the reasons the co-dependent person inserts him or herself into the lives of others. By rushing into rescue them, the co-dependent person is able to maintain control of those individuals and their circumstances.
Co-dependency and Addiction
Addiction recovery experts have noticed a tendency for co-dependency to exist among family members dealing with a drug addict or alcoholic in their midst. Rather than taking the steps necessary to make sure that addict get the treatment he or she needs, these family members go to great lengths to cover up the addiction by making excuses, cleaning up messes and even denying the problem exists.
When co-dependency is a direct result of the addictive behaviour of someone else, it is necessary to treat everyone involved simultaneously. This might include detox and rehab for the addict while co-dependent family members receive psychotherapeutic treatment.
It is possible for individuals to be dual diagnosed with a chemical addiction and co-dependency together. These cases can be especially difficult to treat due to the nature of the co-dependency mindset. However, there are professionals with the knowledge and experience necessary to handle such cases.
Treatment for Co-dependency
There are three schools of thought regarding treatment for those with co-dependency issues. A treatment provider may choose just one school of thought or combine all three. Those schools of thought are:
Behavioural Therapies – Behavioural therapies, implemented through counselling sessions, seek to uncover the reasons an individual has developed co-dependent tendencies. Once those reasons are identified, the therapist can teach the patient how to avoid or change triggering behaviours in the future.
Therapy and Medication – In some cases co-dependency exists in concert with depression or another mental condition. These are cases in which certain medications are introduced to help better manage both co-dependent conditions. Medication can be either temporarily or permanently prescribed.
Group Recovery – Similar to group support utilised for addiction recovery, group recovery for co-dependents is based on the well-known 12-step model. Some groups are secular in nature; others are religiously based.
A co-dependent condition is one that can do significant harm to your relationships. Yet it does not have to be that way. We hope you consider getting in touch with us if there is any chance a co-dependency problem exists in your life. We will do what we can to make sure you get treatment in Essex, or elsewhere in England.