In psychotherapy, codependents are not necessarily addicts and may not directly indulge in addictive behaviour. They are people who share a home with active abusers or have some form of relationship with such abusers that permits or enables abusive behaviours. Codependents frequently protect the abusers and enable them to continue with their destructive activity or behaviours. They suffer from the efflux, but are unable to stem the abuse or to change their own counter-productive behaviour.
Helping denialist codependents
Codependents prefer to misinterpret and deny their own complex dysfunctionality, unless comprehensively enlightened and persuaded. Resolving it calls for professional intervention.
Adult codependents may actually want abusive chaos to continue because it satisfies dysfunctional needs that they, themselves, carry in them. They may, for instance, crave importance, self-worth and the need for their caring and protective presence. To preserve their rewards, they can resist attempts to change the status quo and even side with the abuser to prevent remedial treatment.
Codependents often deny their own and the abuser’s hand in the problem. They blame it on an unintended situation created solely by the addictive material and argue that, in time, the addictive material, and with it the problem, will disappear by itself. They pose as strong characters who deserve credit for keeping a harsh situation under control and persevering in the face of conflict.
In some cases, a partner may be coerced to cooperate with an abuser because they fear physical harm, financial ruin or emotional rejection. Children always feel helpless, as they are usually wholly dependent on abusers, or overwhelmingly controlled by them. They can develop post-traumatic stress disorder that lasts into adulthood and can even be passed on to their own children.
The fly in the soup of codependents
Codependents are not addicts, but they live with abusers, or have close ties with them, and feel obligated to help them in ways that worsen the problem. Over time this creates confusing dilemmas for codependents, but they persist with their perplexing supportive behaviour.
In misguided attempts to help, family members and friends often facilitate abuse. They enable abusers to carry on with their misdeeds by lying or inventing excuses to protect and defend them, hiding their misconduct, taking responsibility for them, providing them with transport, money and drugs, and so on.
Sometimes the helpers, themselves, have hidden disorders that compel them to be codependents. They may have developed maladaptations after exposure to childhood trauma or painful events in adulthood. They often pick partners with backgrounds similar to their own, which increases the likelihood of codependent behaviour.
Codependents often see themselves as angels of mercy, instead of harmful sacrificial lambs. They contrive this delusion from the common social view that unselfish good deeds are commendable. They usually crave admiration and ignore the fact that they are actually accessories to injustice.
Some codependents are financially dependent on an abuser or fear other forms of harm unless they preserve and appease the abuser. They may be prevented by intimidation or by shame to expose their circumstances. Partners may fear physical or emotional retribution. Children are especially vulnerable when exposed to parental or other authoritative abusers.
For various, very complex reasons, it is hard to get codependents to admit or grasp their realities, or to convince them to implement changes. When they are confronted with hard facts, they often put on a pretense of understanding and promise to take corrective action to stamp out the abuse, but then they renege on their promises. This creates the chaotic situation of a dilemma inside a dilemma.
The solution for codependents
Codependency is often passed on from generation to generation, making intervention even more vital. To break the elusive grip of this erosive dysfunction, you need targeted advice that fits the specific situation.
The best way to approach codependency, is to reach out for professional assistance, as codependency reaches much deeper and wider than it appears to. Feel free to call the number on this page for confidential guidance by a friendly, experienced counsellor who walks the path with codependents every day.
Co-dependency refers to a behaviour of people within a relationship with a disorder in whereby they make themselves generally dependent on one or the other, regardless of a particular person or by an addicted person. In self-help groups for Anonymous Co-Addicts (CoDA), those affected share their experiences and learn to take responsibility for their own lives. It is debatable whether co-dependency can be classified as dependent or mixed personality disorder as not every co-dependent behaviour is pathological in nature.
Co-dependency Behaviours related to addicts
Examples of co-dependency include co-workers who cover up and/or compensate for substance abusing colleagues, family members who fund substance abuse, friends who legitimise consumption, for example, at joint celebrations, or physicians prescribing addictive medications contrary to the well being of the patient. Codependant relationships ultimately become accomplices to the addict. Co-dependent behaviour reduces the suffering of the addicted person and thus prolongs his illness and suffering duration.
Read a complete guide to codependency treatment here.