Co-dependency sufferers are unable to enjoy a healthy relationship with another person. Co-dependency is classified as a ‘dysfunction helping relationship’.

Co-dependency is an addiction in its own right, and one often as devastating to the sufferer as drug or alcohol misuse. The term ‘co-dependency’ was originally known as ‘co-alcoholism’ to denote traits displayed by female partners of a male alcoholic.

Co-dependant partners often develop substance abuse themselves. Co-dependency sufferers are said to ‘enable’ their partner’s addiction.

Co-dependency is seldom treated in isolation. Co-dependency sufferers are often surprised to learn of codependency’s diagnosis.

It is common for co-dependency sufferers to live with this condition for many years before a diagnosis made. Co-dependency is thought to develop in childhood.

Sufferers of co-dependency

In the twenty-first century, co-dependency is no longer restricted to wives of alcoholic husbands. The condition is now thought to apply even in the absence of substance abuse. Co-dependency may apply to all relationships, not just marital.

Co-dependency may arise from a relationship between parents and their offspring and even between work colleagues and friends. In fact, as long as codependency’s symptoms are apparent any variety of relationship may properly be described as a ‘co-dependency’.

In the DSM manual co-dependency is defined as ‘dependent personality disorder’. Similar to gambling rehab, co-dependency is classed as a behavioural addiction.

People suffering from co-dependency do have good intentions at the core of their issues. They don’t want to see their loved ones suffer and will give all of themselves. But because they love the focus of their co-dependency there is an issue of denial or avoidance in regard to the severity of their partner’s substance abuse. There is also usually boundary issues or a complete lack of boundaries.

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Symptoms of co-dependency

Persons suffering from co-dependency commonly place the needs of others before their own, even when it is totally irrational to do so.

And they commonly have previous experience of strict rules in their childhood and were restricted in how and when they could express themselves.

They may also have a pattern of having previous partners or a parent that was an addict or other mental illnesses caused by having a dysfunctional family.

Below we list some of the codependency symptoms and common behaviours:

  • Low self-esteem. Cannot function from their ‘innate self’.
  • Feel very depressed or even suicidal when criticised by a partner.
  • Approval seeking to point where it repels partner.
  • Utter lack of self-care.
  • Life is fixed around another person.
  • Often reward partner even for poor behaviour.
  • Continually looking for a quick fix to improve the destructive relationship.
  • Feel responsible for partner’s failings or apologise on their behalf.
  • Rewarding partner for poor behaviour just conditions them to repeat it.
  • Assuming the role of caregiver even when destructive to do so e.g. when enables partner’s substance abuse.
  • Commonly sabotage partner’s wish to seek professional help for substance abuse. This is because co-dependant feels the only solution to partner’s problems, a condition known as ‘Messiah Complex’.
  • Justifying your partner’s addiction, for example; ‘He’s had a stressful day’.
  • Making excuses for your partner’s absence at social events because they are under the influence.
  • You take on additional responsibility, at home or at work.
  • You are willing to risk your financial security to fund their habit.

Is co-dependency and people-pleasing the same?

Co-dependency is very similar to ‘people-pleasing’ but there are a few key differences. Although people pleasers have an intense need to help others, co-dependent relationships tend to have one main focus and the need to a certain extent is reciprocated because the person they are connected to is an addict or ill in some way.

People pleasers also have to be liked or needed by most people they meet. Whereas with co-dependency they will often sacrifice all other relationships so all their time and effort can be focused on their partner.

Fear of Change

It is very daunting to admit there is a problem with any disorder or addiction. And co-dependency can be one of the hardest as you not only have to be honest with your own issues, you also have to admit the focus of your dependency also has a problem with substance abuse.

It is important to remember that you aren’t necessarily scared of change, just the unknowns that come with change and relinquishing the caregiver role to our professional team. But rest assured you will receive the best care in our state-of-the-art facilities.


Co-dependency rehab

Ocean Recovery Centre offers a comprehensive co-dependency rehabilitation programme. Before your rehabilitation programme begins, an initial pre-admission assessment is conducted by one of our admissions counsellors. Upon entry into our centre, you are psychologically and physically assessed.

Even if you are not the person in a co-dependency with the addiction your physical health is still important. Many people suffering from co-dependency have been neglecting themselves, often for a long period of time.

So it is crucial to make sure you are in the best health as you will need physical and emotional energy to go the most out of your treatments and therapy.

If drug or alcohol addiction co-occurs with co-dependency, you must undergo the detox stage of rehab. In the absence of substance abuse, the client immediately begins therapy and counselling sessions.

Therapy and counselling are designed to tackle the underlying emotional causes of co-dependency. You will learn how to set appropriate boundaries and healthy family and relationship dynamics. Therapy will tackle issues going back many years in the client’s life.

Therapy helps clients identify co-dependency behavioural patterns. Patients are then taught ways of dealing with situations without resorting to co-dependent behaviour. Patients will receive treatment for anxiety and depression where necessary.

Once rehab concludes a tailored aftercare and relapse prevention plan is drawn up. Patients are also encouraged to attend Co-dependents Anonymous sessions taking place in their local area once rehabilitation is complete.

Call Ocean Recovery today

Call Ocean Recovery today to find out more. Call on 01253 847 553. Alternatively, complete the enquiry form and a member of the team will respond shortly.

We maintain clinics across the United Kingdom.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 22, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.

Dr Robert Lutaaya - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: December 13, 2023

MBChB, MSc Psych

Dr Robert Lutaaya qualified in 1995 from Worclaw Medical University as MBChB, and obtained a MSc Psych from the University of Manchester in 2014. Dr Lutaaya has previously worked for the CGL Substance Misuse Service and as an on-call doctor substance misuse Doctor for 17 years before joining Ocean Recovery. Dr Robert Lutaaya is committed to helping those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.