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Archive for the ‘Codependency’ Category

Codependency (Part II): The Characteristics of Codependent Behavior

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

The Patterns and Characteristics of Codependent Behavior

Codependency: The Characteristics of Codependent Behaviors

This is Part 2 of our codependency series. If you missed Part 1, check it out here.

One of the major problems seen in the families of addicts is codependency. Codependency is a set of dysfunctional behaviors that family members adopt in order to survive the emotional pain and stress caused by living with an addicted family member. Do you believe that love, acceptance, security and approval are dependent upon taking care of your addicted family member? While such actions may temporarily ease conflict and tension within the family, in the end they protect the addict from the negative consequences of his/her addiction allowing the addict to continue drinking or abusing chemical substances.

Codependency does not refer to all caring behavior. In a healthy relationship, showing compassion by attending to another’s needs strengthens the relationship and leads to mutual appreciation, good communication, deeper intimacy and trust. However, the compassionate person never loses sight of who they are and recognizes that their own needs are of equal importance.
In the case of the codependent person, their identity rests upon their ability to rescue others. Often they are dependent on another’s inability to function and are unconsciously drawn to troubled, needy and dependent people. Obsessive care taking becomes a way of fulfilling their emotional needs. While intentions are well meant, these repeated rescue attempts allow the needy individual, in this case the addict, to continue on a destructive path.

The Cost of Codependency

Unlike compassion, codependency is associated with an overwhelming feeling of guilt; guilt is often the motivating factor for decisions and behaviors within the relationship, even though they don’t make any logical sense.

There are many definitions of co-dependency. In his book Co-dependence, Healing the Human Condition, Charles L. Whitfield, M.D. defines codependence as “A disease of lost selfhood.” Often, codependency is rooted in a person’s childhood. Exploration into early childhood issues and their relationship to current destructive behavioral patterns need to be examined. Treatment includes education, experiential and individual group therapy. Feelings that have been buried need to be examined in order for the codependent to retrace and identify self-defeating behavioral patterns.

Does someone you love abuse drugs and alcohol? Are you filled with despair and worry about this person constantly? Has your life become controlled by the addict’s addictive behavior? If you answer yes to these questions, know that help is at hand. The first step is acknowledging that you need help. Joining a 12-Step program such as Codependents Anonymous, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon is a good beginning. Seeking the help of a professional therapist is also highly recommended.

Characteristics of Codependent Behavior

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you so absorbed in trying to stop your loved one’s dependence on alcohol or chemical substances to the point that your own life has now become unmanageable?
  • Does every moment of your waking day revolve around attempts to rescue, to control, to take on responsibilities that in reality are not yours to take on?
  • Do you find yourself, ranting and raging, complaining, policing, nagging the alcoholic/drug addicted family member?
  • Have you felt overwhelming fatigue?
  • Do you feel victimized?
  • Do you feel depressed?
  • Do you feel helpless and hopeless?
  • Are you experiencing a wide range of emotions that have begun to disturb you to the point that obtaining a good night’s sleep is nigh impossible?
  • Are you neglecting your own life and in so doing have stopped taking care of yourself?
  • Do you constantly feel responsible for others behavior?
  • Do you feel excessive guilt whenever you spend time on your own projects believing that your role is to take care of others needs?
  • Do you have difficulty expressing your own wants? Do you find yourself becoming angry when your own needs are unmet?
  • Do you seek approval and validation?
  • Have you become totally absorbed to the point of obsession with watching over and covering up for someone who is abusing drugs and alcohol?
  • Do you have difficulty setting boundaries – saying NO?
  • Are you driven by fear of failure and the need to avoid being wrong or making any mistakes?
  • Are you losing your own identity in trying to rescue and fix others?
  • Do you pretend that circumstances aren’t as bad as they are?
  • Are you in a constant state of anxiety?

Could you be Codependent?

In her book, Codependent No More, Melody Beattie describes codependency as follows: “A person who has let someone else’s behavior affect him or her, and is obsessed with controlling other people’s behavior” (Beattie 1987). My question to you is “Have you allowed someone else’s behavior to take control of your life?” If so, it is possible to learn to enjoy life again, to learn to detach with love. Make a plan to embark on your own recovery journey — you will find it to be an exciting and empowering voyage of discovery.

By Judi Jenett

Judi Jenett is the Family Program Coordinator for The Treatment Center.

Judi's pic

Codependency (Part I): Addiction in the Family

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Codependency: What To Do If Your Loved One is Addicted

Codependency: Addiction in the Family

When someone you love has become addicted to drugs or alcohol you may find yourself trying to protect them from the consequences of their own actions. You believe that by doing all in your power to help that person recover, to help that person stay on the straight and narrow path, all will be well. However, there is a fine line between offering healthy support versus harmful enabling behavior.

Enabling is often seen in relationships between addicts/alcoholics and codependents. Enabling behavior occurs when a codependent person, either directly or indirectly, takes on the full responsibility for tidying up the wreckage of the addict’s self-destructive actions or makes excuses for their conduct.

Rescuing someone or solving someone’s problems may seem like a caring and compassionate action, but in the case of the disease of addiction, trying to control another’s harmful and destructive abuse of chemical substances is an impossible task. What you can do is to focus on your own life, your own well-being.

Only when the addicted person is faced with the consequences of their actions, only when the realization that they have hit rock bottom and have no one there to pick up the pieces of their self-destructive behavior/conduct will they be able to come to the realization that they need professional help.

When we find ourselves trying to fix another’s problem or if we find ourselves needing to help the other person for the purpose of feeling our own sense of identity – then we are dealing with co-dependency. There may be times when we all battle some form of co-dependent behavior but when the struggle becomes all-encompassing and affects one’s emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, then it’s time to seek help.

In my next blog we will delve into the patterns and characteristics of codependent behavior (or codependency).

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. At The Treatment Center, we help our patients experience hope and healing from their addiction. Regardless of what substance you are addicted to, The Treatment Center can help you break free from the chains of addiction. Call us now at 877.392.3342, or chat with an admissions counselor online. Our admissions counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays.


By Judi Jenett

Judi Jenett is the Family Program Coordinator for The Treatment Center.

Judi's pic

Building Trust and Meaningful Relationships in Recovery

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Building Trust and Meaningful Relationships in Recovery

By Family Therapist, Judi Jenett

Family Therapist, Judi Jenett | The Treatment Center blog

Trust is at the core of all meaningful relationships. Without trust, there can be no cohesive family unit and rebuilding trust for those recovering from an addiction is a process that can take many months or years. The disease of addiction creates imbalances in relationships and challenges the entire family system.

Families often experience a variety of emotions, unexpressed anger and pain, confusion, embarrassment, guilt, shame and fear. Added to this, are the physical and psychological symptoms such as loss of sleep, headaches, depression, helplessness, hopelessness, isolation, loss of concentration and great sorrow.

Managing the Unmanageable

Many times family members are so focused on the addict that they lose sight of their own needs. Many families have been deeply hurt by the actions of their loved ones; serious financial problems may have developed due to excessive spending, frequent work absences or loss of employment.

Extramarital affairs and untrustworthy behavior may have led to marital conflict. Major concerns and fears over verbal, emotional or physical abuse may have caused severe anxiety and lead a person to disguise their true feelings in order to manage the unmanageable. However, it is possible to heal the hurt that has been caused.

Restoring the Family Dynamic in Recovery

Addiction in the family need not destroy the family unit, family members can strengthen their relationships with one another by being willing to talk and explore new avenues of communication in an honest and open format. When the addicted family member begins their journey toward long-term sobriety, they will be more open to receiving your love, support and guidance.

Working through issues separately and together takes time, but relationships can be repaired. Exploring the dynamics within the family are key to opening the doors to change. Building family connections requires effective family communication; clear, honest and regular communication leads to strong family ties.

Addressing Enabling and Codependency

Exploring the dynamics of the family unit helps families to step back and recognize long-standing patterns of ineffective communication, codependency or conflict. These patterns may have started in childhood long before the addiction. When a child experiences inconsistent parenting, in an attempt to avoid upsetting the family homeostasis, they turn to people pleasing behavior.

This unhealthy dynamic may continue into adult life as a way of ensuring emotional danger is kept at bay. If emotions and fears cannot be expressed openly, children may develop destructive and impulsive behaviors in an attempt to conquer their pain. Feelings of low self worth and shame, and feelings of helplessness may overwhelm those living within an addicted family system. Despite well-meaning intentions, families may inadvertently become trapped in a cycle of enabling and codependency.

The Importance of Family Therapy

Family therapy is an essential part of your own and your loved one’s recovery. The Treatment Center understands and recognizes the importance of ongoing family therapy and makes it an integral part of The Treatment Center’s Intensive Outpatient Program. For families who live locally, we provide a monthly/bi-monthly Family Support Group.

The support group offers a safe place to explore the genetic, emotional and social factors that may have inadvertently led to a breakdown of family cohesion. Meeting with a therapist as a family can help improve communication among family members, rebalance the family dynamic and give family members a safe environment to express their anger, fear and other concerns.

Attending Family Workshops

Family therapy may also be helpful in preventing the children of addicts from succumbing to the disease themselves. The family connections that you learn to develop today will no doubt reflect the type of relationships you have with your family tomorrow.

For further information and/or registration, please contact me, family therapist, Judi Jenett. Assistance will also be provided with hotel reservations. You can contact me directly via email [email protected] or by calling 561-557-2797.

5 Warning Signs of Codependency

Monday, December 7th, 2015


Codependency is a relational process that can arise in any type of relationship whether it’s romantic, familial, work-related, or friendly. Codependency can look different for each individual. Usually the codependent person is so absorbed in others’ problems that they don’t have time to identify their own problems.

Instead of taking care of their own needs they become compulsive caretakers of parents, siblings, lovers, friends, co-workers, etc. Codependency can become a co-addiction where the codependent usually gets a false sense of control and some reward or satisfaction out of caring for others.

The codependent also acts as an enabler to the person’s behaviors they’re trying to control. By constantly trying to rescue others from their problems, the codependent further influences them, whether it’s drug use and/or other ill-wanted behaviors. So what are some signs of codependency?

1) Weak Boundaries 

The codependent has a weak sense or no sense at all of healthy boundaries. This lack of boundary setting leaves them vulnerable to abuse whether it is physical, psychological or emotional. They often lose themselves in the other person, say yes to situations they don’t want to be involved in, and gain false confidence from trying to “fix” other people.

2) Fear of Abandonment 

Codependents often cling to relationships and hold on to them because they fear abandonment and have an extreme need for acceptance. Their need for acceptance often turns to people pleasing.

Codependency issues can spring up from early childhood experiences. If there was neglect or abandonment early on between a child and their parent or caregiver, then the child may have learned very early on to abandon their own needs and care for others instead.

3) Being the Rescuer/Enabler 

Usually to keep the relationship alive, the codependent will constantly make excuses for the addict’s behavior and their own. When someone is in trouble or in need, they will try to “rescue” or “fix” the situation by covering up the issue, ignoring it, or giving in to the person’s wants and needs without considering their own.

The codependent is the enabler whose rescue attempts become  expected each time the person gets into trouble or wants something from them; money, shelter, drugs, sex, etc.

4) Strong Need for Control/Feeling Rewarded

In taking responsibility for others, the codependent often feels they are in control or can control the situation by giving into the other person’s needs; however, this often backfires. The satisfaction they get from helping or trying to fix the other person comes from the need to gain control, which is really a false sense of control.

5) Neglecting Themselves for Others 

With weak boundaries, fear of abandonment, the need to rescue others, and the false sense of control, codependents fall into the trap of neglecting themselves time and time again. By placing others’ needs above their own, codependents often lose their sense of self, have low self-esteem, and can turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, and other addictions to cope.

Healthy Ways to Cope 

Individual therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help codependents address unhealthy thinking and emotions that lead to poor decision making. They can learn healthy boundary setting, self-empowerment, and how to restore a healthy sense of self.

Codependents often benefit from attending 12-step groups and group therapy. If you’re struggling with codependency, click on any of the links below to find a support group in your area:

Codependency and drug and alcohol addiction often go hand-in-hand. If you are struggling with substance abuse and codependency issues, call us today at (855) 545-6777. Our admissions counselors are always ready to help answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays.

How To Tell If You’re a Codependent

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Enabling Addicts: How to Tell if you're codependent


Are you a codependent? Have you wondered if you could be? As a loved one of a person who is struggling with addiction, you may feel like you have to do everything in your power to help that person. However, sometimes what may seem like helping can often make the situation worse.

When a person is codependent, there is an underlying expectation that their help and the need to please their loved one or others will make things better. It is easy for the codependent to feel as though their efforts will be recognized and their loved one’s behavior will change.

However, this behavior only makes it easier for the addict to control and manipulate the codependent and continue their drug and/or alcohol abuse. The codependent often becomes the enabler and acts as the “co-addict” without even realizing it.

Codependency and Co-addiction

Are You Codependent?

Codependents often get pleasure out of pleasing others to the point where it becomes a co-addiction. Once the codependent feels like they are fixing things, this actually stimulates dopamine, the reward center of the brain.

These good feelings help the codependent feel more secure and less anxious and stressed, but they often cover up underlying emotions such as fear, shame and guilt, which often leads to control and attachment issues.

Signs of Codependency

So what are some telltale signs you may be a codependent? Codependency often includes:

•    Having an extreme fear of abandonment
•    Accepting full responsibility for other’s actions
•    People pleasing without considering your own needs
•    Struggling with setting clear boundaries
•    Thinking the addict is incapable in order to feel valued
•    Constantly making excuses for the addict’s behavior
•    Neglecting your own needs or responsibilities to help others

Most of these behaviors stem from shame and guilt and fear of being out of control and not being able to protect their loved one from addiction. While it may seem like these behaviors are out of genuine concern, they end up as defense mechanisms to feel more secure.

When the codependent sacrifices their own needs and constantly feels the need to give more and more, it becomes an impairment for the codependent and the addicted loved one. Yet, codependents can improve their enabling behavior by learning healthy coping strategies.

Helpful Ways to Deal with Codependency

Since codependents often lose sight of their own needs, it’s helpful to create healthy boundaries. By learning to establish clear boundaries, the codependent is giving the addict the responsibility for their own actions. This suffering is a big part of the recovery process and can actually help an addicted loved one seek treatment and begin the road to long-term recovery.

If you think you are a codependent and you’re struggling with setting boundaries, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one is attend therapy. Individual therapy sessions with a licensed therapist or group therapy sessions such as 12-step meetings, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or a family program can improve your relationship between you and your loved one in recovery.

For Couples in Need of Addiction Treatment

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Couples Addiction Treatment | Couples Drug Therapy | Couples rehab

Addiction is a disease that affects all areas of life. The physical and emotional effects are suffered not only by the addict, but their friends and family as well. These consequences are felt severely by the romantic relationship, possibly more than any other. Whether it’s a lifelong marriage or the earlier stages of a relationship, addiction can quickly destroy a union between two people. When one or both partners are suffering from addiction, the steps to save the relationship are similar. When couples choose to receive help together, they have a higher chance of recovering together.

For couples who are wondering if they are in need of treatment, there are many consequences to consider if they refuse to receive help. Addiction causes a lot of distrust, anger and resentment. When one or both members of a couple are in active addiction, many unhealthy behaviors begin to develop. If these behaviors are not addressed and dealt with, the future of a relationship will be in jeopardy.

Oftentimes, if couples want to save their relationship and family, their only choice is to receive treatment together. With many unhealthy coping mechanisms already in the works, couples need outside help to rebuild a happy and healthy relationship. Whether both members are addicted or only one, the need to heal together remains the same. The first step is admitting there are things to work on for both parties and a willingness to work on healing both together and individually.

It’s important to recognize there are many issues that will still be there once addiction treatment is complete. Long-term treatment in the form of therapy and support groups are key for a lasting recovery. For a non-addicted partner, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon have proven to help many who suffer from a loved one’s addiction. In order for a relationship to last after rehab, the work is far from over.

Couples addiction treatment is the most successful when both members fully support one another. Whether it’s couples rehab, couples drug therapy or other sources, there are many ways to receive help together. If you are ready to receive help for an addiction or better understand your loved one’s substance abuse, we are here to help. Contact us today: 877-412-3342.


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