Why Families of Addicts Should Seek Counseling for Codependency

Why Families of Addicts Should Seek Counseling for Codependency

People who struggle with codependency do not see how their behaviors enable their addicted loved ones

Codependency is a behavioral and emotional condition that impacts one’s ability to have healthy relationships[i]. People who struggle with the condition may have an unhealthy attachment to a spouse, partner, family member or friend, and it can be an integral component of drug and alcohol addiction. Codependency, like addiction, runs in families, so people who struggle with this condition need the help of a counselor or psychotherapist to recover completely. The good news is that codependency is completely curable. People who struggle with the condition do not see how their behaviors enable their addicted loved ones, but, with proper treatment, people can change the behaviors that contribute to or cause addiction. In short, seek professional help as soon as possible to begin long-term recovery.

Symptoms of Codependency

One of the most important parts of addressing codependency is recognizing that you have a problem. Unfortunately, codependency typically runs in families, and children who are exposed to abusive parents are more likely to develop the disorder. Writing for PsychCentral, Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, lists the following symptoms of codependency:[ii]

  • Low self-esteem –If you believe that you are not good enough for treatment or you compare yourself to other people, then these behaviors can deflate  self-esteem. Feelings of shame or guilt often go hand-in-hand with low self-esteem, as well as the need to be perfect. Ergo, people who come across as having it all together may simply be covering up a low self-image.
  • People pleasing – People pleasers are easy targets for codependency due to their need to make everyone around them happy. People pleasers believe they have no choice other than to say “yes” to everyone’s requests; saying “no” may actually cause them a great deal of anxiety. People pleasers put their own needs last in order to put others first, but this type of behavior often puts them at risk for serious problems.
  • Issues with boundaries – People who struggle with codependency have a lack of personal boundaries. Boundaries can protect you from letting other people take advantage of you. For some codependents, the boundaries are invisible; these people never set limits with others when it comes to time or personal space, so they feel constantly responsible for the feelings of others. Other codependents have rigid boundaries, so they never let people get close to them.
  • Reactive – Without the proper boundaries, people who struggle with codependency become reactive. They absorb what other people say as fact rather than opinion, and they take offense or feel threatened by opposing points of view.
  • Caretaking – People with codependent issues feel the need to be caregivers. Rather than normal empathy or sympathy, codependency causes people to put another person’s needs before their own. Such people need to help or fix others to feel fulfilled.
  • Control – Codependents need to feel in control at all times, which means they get their sense of security from telling others what to do. This thought process limits one’s ability to take chances, to open up to others and to share feelings. Codependents also need to control the people who are closest to them, so they often come across as bossy or manipulative.
  • Communication problems – People who struggle with codependency often communicate ineffectively. They are afraid to speak the truth for fear of what others might think of them.
  • Denial – Codependents do not realize that they need help, because they are in denial about their behaviors. People may demonstrate denial by trying to fix other people, going from one relationship to another and focusing on what someone else needs rather than what they need.

In short, seek help if you recognize any of these problems in yourself or a loved one.

Counseling for Codependency

Families who struggle with codependency need the help of trained psychotherapists to recognize and address their problems. It is difficult to get someone to admit that she has a problem with codependency, particularly because denial is one of its major symptoms. However, during addiction treatment, therapists will explore all issues that contribute to or cause this problem. If you realize that your codependent family members encourage your addictive behavior with codependency, then you have taken an important step toward healing. Once you identify this condition in yourself or a loved one, then you can get treatment and change those codependent behaviors as soon as possible.

As with addiction, codependents must recognize and change the thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to this condition. It takes time to change codependency, but, with the right treatment plan, patients can learn to live in a healthier way emotionally and relationally.

Find Help for Addiction and Codependency

Codependency can run in the family, and it can also contribute to drug addiction. However, getting the proper help can change codependent relationships into healthy ones; if you or a loved one struggles with addiction or codependency, then know that we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. You are not alone; call today for instant, professional support.


[i] Mental Health America. “Co-Dependency.” Accessed November 19, 2015. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/co-dependency

[ii] Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT. “The Symptoms of Co-Dependency.” PsychCentral.com. Accessed November 19, 2015. http://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-codependency/