Codependency is sometimes called “relationship addiction”. The definition is broad and varied. The most basic definition is: a relational pattern in which a person attempts to derive a sense of purpose through relationships with others (feeling worthless without another person). Sometimes it is a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity. Codependency is an overall issue that prevents you from acting in a healthy way, with others. Many times it is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another.

Codependency can also describes someone who becomes the “caretaker” of an addicted or troubled person. The person can be addicted to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. He or she can be troubled by a physical or mental illness. A codependent can be the person’s spouse, lover, child, parent, sibling, coworker, or friend.

Signs and Symptoms

A codependent does these things:

  • Enables or allows the person to continue his or her destructive course and denies that the person has a problem.
  • Rescues or makes excuses for the person’s behavior.
  • Takes care of all household chores, money matters, etc.
  • Rationalizes that the person’s behavior is normal by simply letting it take place. The codependent may take part in the same behavior as the addicted or troubled person.
  • Acts like a hero or becomes the “super person” to maintain the family image.
  • Blames the person and makes him or her the scapegoat for all problems.
  • Withdraws from the family and acts like he or she doesn’t care.


A person is more likely to become codependent if he or she:

  • Puts other people’s wants and needs before his or her own.
  • Is afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others. Is afraid of hurting others’ feelings.
  • Has low self-esteem or has a self-esteem tied to what is done for others.
  • Expects too much of himself or herself and others.
  • Feels overly responsible for others’ behaviors and feelings.
  • Does not think it is okay to ask for help.


Most codependents do not realize they have a problem. They think they are helping the troubled person, but they are not.
The first step in treatment is to admit to the problem. Self-care and counseling treat codependency. For many people, self-care is not easy to do without the help of a counselor.

It’s very common to want to “fix” the addict or alcoholic.

Codependency does not just go away. It is a progressive disorder. The good news is that it is treatable. If you think you have a codependency issue and you want to get help, call us right now!

Codependency questions

  • Do you have a hard time asking for something you need?
  • Do you sometimes feel compelled to help someone solve a problem?
  • Are you afraid of what people may think of you?
  • Do you lie to protect other people’s feelings?
  • Do you take care of others before you take care of yourself?
  • Are your loyal, even when the situation is harmful?
  • Do you put aside your own interests in order to make someone else happy?
  • Do you have a hard time receiving compliments?
  • Do you feel guilty doing something for yourself?
  • Do you apologize excessively?
  • Are you afraid of making mistakes?
  • Do you accept sexual attention, as a substitute for love?
  • Do you have a hard time believing, the people around, you can do things for themselves?
  • Do you offer advice and direction, when it’s inappropriate?
  • Have you ever compromised your values to please someone else?
  • Are you a victim of abuse?
  • Have you ever lived with an alcoholic or drug addict?
  • Are you overly sensitive to criticism?
  • Do you ever “self-harm” as a way of punishing yourself?
  • Do you believe a person can change, even though they have proven that they can’t?
  • Are you often a victim in a relationship?
  • Do you feel inferior to most people?
  • Do you manipulate people in order to get what you want?
  • Do you allow a person to engage in an addiction, even though you know it is harmful or even deadly?
  • Do you cover up for people’s mistakes?
  • Do you give to others as a way to deal with emotional pain?

Hmmmm, so you skimmed through the questions and thought (a) awesome … this stuff does not relate to me, or (b) bummer …. this seems to “hit a little close to home”. The bad news is that codependency does not cure itself. Like many addictions, it can be chronic and progressive. The good news is that it is treatable. There are tools to learn how to live in a healthy way. If you think you have a codependency issue and you want to get help give us a call.

Two Additional Codependency Treatment Options

• Go to a Twelve Step meeting for codependents, such as Codependents Anonymous, called CoDA, or Al-Anon for family members of alcoholics.

• Get counseling. This can come in the form of a treatment center, psychologist, psychiatrist, family therapist or social worker.

I will end with a quote from the CoDA website “No matter how traumatic your past or despairing your present may seem, there is hope for a new day in the program of Co-Dependents Anonymous.” I like that!

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