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Why Families of Addicts Should Seek Counseling for Codependency

Why Families of Addicts Should Seek Counseling for Codependency

Receiving family therapy can help all involved to recognize their codependent behavior and begin to recover and heal

Codependency is common among families who have an addicted loved one, especially if that loved one still lives at home. Codependent relationships within addicted families are characterized by a family member who is dependent on caring for the needs of the addict above their own needs. The codependent family member will commonly put the needs of the addict above anyone else and personally defend them if their behavior is questioned.

Codependent relationships often exist without the knowledge of the people involved and continue to worsen the situation of the addict as well as the codependent family member until the relationship can be changed. The codependent family may believe that they are doing good and helping the addict when in reality they are actually enabling the behavior of the addict and his abuse of addictive substances. The addict’s situation only continues because he has someone taking care of his every need and making excuses for his behavior..

On the other end of the spectrum the codependent family member is trapped in a relationships where she feels personally attached to the addict and unable to let go. Codependents are dependent on addicts continuing to abuse drugs so that they can care for them. People struggling with codependency often feel shame, low self-worth, insecurity, and a sense of unworthiness to feel happy.1 A codependent person’s self-worth is typically attached to how well she takes care of her addicted family member. Codependent individuals typically find their approval and validation in how they care for the addict. Codependency is more often than not found in women toward their significant other. Codependent people often have a fear of being alone or without an intimate relationship so they make excuses for their partner who is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction.

Codependency is a learned behavior that is developed by watching others such as parents or older siblings display the same type of behavior toward another person.2 Codependent relationships are often found in relationships where both people are abusing a substance together, an addict is living with the family member, or in intimate relationships where only one person is addicted. Codependent relationships are dysfunctional and continue to lead to increased behavioral, emotional, psychological, and physical problems. Receiving family therapy can help all involved to recognize their codependent behavior and begin to recover and heal. Overtime, the codependent nature of the relationship can be overcome and the addicted partner or family member can move toward receiving the help they need through professional rehab.

Counseling for Codependency

Prolonged and unaddressed codependent relationships can lead not only to more complex addictions for the loved one but also a number of problems for the codependent person. Codependency can often lead people to develop depression, anxiety disorders, and even their own struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. Codependent people often turn to drugs to escape their problems or to simply feel a better sense of belonging with their addicted loved one. It is essential for family members of addicts to seek out advice on if counseling is necessary for potential problems with codependency.

Codependency is often rooted in childhood experiences where the adult codependent learned the behavior from someone they saw or they were forced into a role reversal situation. Some children take the place of a parent to their siblings if the parents are not present due to neglect or drug addiction. Taking on a parental role at such a young age can cause people to develop abnormally, which can bleed into their adult relationships.

There are different forms and methods of therapy that can be successfully utilized in treating codependency. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one form of therapy that can help people recognize their codependent behaviors and equip them with the necessary tools to work toward overcoming it. When codependency is resolved it can allow the person to experience mutually beneficial relationships with others where her own needs are met as well. Overcoming codependency will help the person to decrease anxiety, depression and increase self-esteem.

Therapy will enable codependent family members to see things in a new light. They will be able to recognize the importance of self-care and setting boundaries with others. It will allow them to see the difference between supporting a person and fixing all his or her problems. Therapy can all help to enable the codependent family member to continue helping others but in productive ways that are mutually beneficial. In addition to the codependent family member being helped, the addict will be benefitted as well. The addicted individual will no longer have an enabling relationship that allows him to continue his abusive lifestyle. When codependency is overcome through therapy the addict will finally have to face the consequences of his choices. Overall, it will simply help the addict move closer to rehab.

Need Help Finding Professional Treatment?

If you or someone you love in Des Moines is struggling with addiction and needs professional help, please call our toll-free number now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day in order to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Learn how to cope with life without drugs or alcohol. Call us today.


1“Codependency,” Good Therapy,, (Updated Nov. 7, 2015)

2 “Co-Dependency,” Mental Health America,, (Cited Nov. 22, 2015)