What is Codependency?
of us are codependent to some degree. It is the human condition, we all
need other people. We are all affected by other people’s words and
behavior. We affect other people by our words and behavior. The
question is whether we have let our natural interdependence evolve into
I created the following Venn diagram to give
a pictorial representation of the relationships between needing to be
needed, trying to control your alcoholic or addict's behavior and
opinion, unhealthy dependence can be defined as a relationship where
one person is addicted to being needed by someone else.
ask, how is unhealthy codependence different than how most
relationships function? I couldn’t say. All I can say is that I believe
that in a healthy relationship, you want your partner to be healthy,
happy and functional in their life, even when you are not there. And
they want the same for you. That doesn’t mean that you can’t feel joy
in being with them. However, your happiness should not depend entirely
on their presence and their mood.
Enabling and Unhealthy Codependence
In an unhealthy relationship, individuals will tend to make their partners dependent on them. For instance, by enabling
their alcoholic’s or addict’s unhealthy behaviors, an unhealthy person
can ensure that their partner needs them. In these circumstances, the
alcoholic or addict receives many subtle cues telling them that it is
all right to indulge themselves as long as they let their partner know
that they are needed.
Enabling was how I kept my alcoholic addict
dependent on me. In retrospect I realize that rescuing my alcoholic
addict from the repercussions of her behavior fed my ego. It made me
feel necessary in her life. Even when she treated me badly, at some
level I believed that she couldn’t survive without me to take care of
In an unhealthy relationship, when the person seeks addiction treatment,
the codependent will often sabotage their efforts. This is seldom
conscious. They are not bad people. They do not want their partners to
be in pain. However, they are so vested in being needed by their
partners that they are fearful that if their partner were healthy, they
would no longer be needed. At some unconscious level, the needy person
will tend to support that behavior that makes them feel needed.
people in alcoholic or addict relationships have an unhealthy
codependence upon their substance abuser. To some degree they need
their alcoholic or drug abuser to be dependent on them. If this is you,
you may well be contributing to your alcoholic’s or addict’s
self-destructive behavior. If you truly want things to change, you will
need to take steps to deal with your own issues.
will help you assess the degree to which you may be contributing to your family’s alcoholism or drug addiction problems.
you feel you have an unhealthy dependence on your alcoholic or addict
family member, there are steps you can take. I found an excellent
counselor who helped get me started on the path to recovery. I also
participated in a weekly two hour support group where, for about a
year, we worked through a codependence workbook. It was a difficult,
painful process of recognizing and dealing with my issues.
are no quick fixes. Us unhealthy codependents have had a lifetime to
develop our bad habits. It will take time and a lot of work to change
our behavior patterns and, more importantly, to change our unconscious
Go to Codependency Test
Return from Codependency to My Alcoholic Addict