What is Co-Dependency?

What is Co-Dependency?

Seeing a close friend, family member, coworker or loved one struggle with addiction can be incredibly difficult to comprehend. We love them so much, and at times, it may even feel as though you’d do anything for them, no matter the cost. If your loved one misses work because they’ve been abusing substances, you’re the first to call them in sick – and if they need someone to take their anger out on from time to time, there you are, right on the other end. As Mental Health America (MHA) states, co-dependency often affects those close to a loved one who struggles with addiction, and it can often feel one-sided. A person with co-dependency may stay with someone even though they’re abusive or emotionally destructive, and while their intentions are good, it’s often out of having a low self-esteem.

Co-dependency is different than generally caring for someone, because the behaviors of helping someone become compulsive and often defeating. A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction sought to explore the lived experiences of those with co-dependency by interviewing eight individuals who were attending support groups for this concern. These were some of the most common descriptions participants gave for how they felt:

–       A lack of clear sense of self

–       An enduring pattern of extreme emotional, relational and occupational imbalance

–       Attribution of current problems regarding parental abandonment and control in childhood

Dr. Allan Schwartz, a licensed clinical social worker, told MentalHelp.net, “The irony is [family members’] love and behavior towards [a loved one with addiction] could lead to [many] consequences…They do not want [them] to be angry at them and would do anything to prevent that. It is not only that they cannot withdraw their love…but fear the loss of [that person’s] love for them.”

Enabling behaviors often stem from co-dependency, and while it comes from a place of love, it’s dangerous for both the loved one’s and the family member’s health. Thankfully, there are now programs for close friends and family members of those affected by a loved one’s addiction – and issues such as co-dependency can be discussed.

If you’re ready to begin your journey towards restoration of the mind, body and spirit, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Saving Lives; Healing Families.


Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.