Codependency is defined as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another,” “another” meaning a person who is addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. Codependents suffer the inability to lead healthy lives with stable, mutually-satisfying relationships. Generally, codependency in men and codependency in women are often dual-diagnosed with another physical or psychological illness. An estimated 100 million Americans suffer from codependency. Codependents, more often than not, endure excessive amounts of stress and are commonly quite depressed.
What’s Accompanied With Codependency?
A codependent will consistently place the needs of another above their own, thus personal sacrifice tends to be a huge factor in their lives. Codependency is often accompanied by such character defects as insecurity, low self-esteem, denial, and over-excessive compliance. A codependent may feel that they can’t do enough to please their partner. They constantly feel unappreciated, lonely, inadequate, unloved, and humiliated. They are indecisive as they are commonly left wondering if they are the only one who cares if things get better. Codependents suffer from more immediate health problems than most people due to worry and stress. They suffer more headaches, backaches, stomach problems, and regularly deal with bouts of insomnia. Thus, frequently, codependents are often placed on antidepressants, sleep aids, or some form of narcotic painkiller and become dependent on drugs and/or alcohol themselves. Many times they can also develop other common disorders such as OCD or other addictions to things like food, shopping, or gambling. These are common examples that can result in a dual diagnosis for many codependents.
Serious Control Issues
Because codependency tends to completely take over the life and psyche of the codependent, they often develop serious control issues. They become obsessed with the attempt at control, as they see “control, or lack of it, as central to every aspect of life.” To a codependent, control means they can prevent the destructive behavior of another. It is common for a codependent to take responsibility for another’s actions even though the behavior is not their fault.
Breaking the Cycle of Codependency
In order to break the cycle of codependency, the codependent must recognize that they are just as important as the loved one they are protecting, covering, or over-compensating for. It is extremely difficult for any codependent to break this cycle on their own. Few accomplish this task without the help of therapy. Unfortunately, even fewer seek the professional help they need to overcome the devastating and sometimes life-threatening effects associated with this condition. The first step in recovery is to accept and understand that you are only responsible for your own behavior and not the behaviors of others.
Are You in a Codependent Relationship?
Obviously, if you are in a codependent relationship the best solution is to get out. More often than not, getting out is not an option for the codependent. For those suffering from codependency, there are many self-help groups that are available to aid in the recovery process.