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Codependency is a psychological condition characterized by one person in a relationship caring for the other in order to meet his or her own emotional or psychological needs. Caregivers define their self-worth by how they help the person in need and are often controlled or manipulated.

This type of relationship distorts codependent people’s view of themselves and how they build their self-confidence and self-worth. Codependency also encourages damaging, and sometimes unhealthy, behavior in the other person in the relationship.

In most cases, the person in need of care has a mental health condition or substance abuse problem. The codependent person will make excuses for it, allowing the other person’s problem to rule the relationship and the caregiver’s life.

What Does Codependency Look Like?

Codependent people are often women who have been exposed to a dysfunctional family while growing up or who cared for a chronically ill parent. Female trauma victims who have been physically or mentally abused or neglected will also be at a higher risk for seeking out codependent relationships.

A person who is codependent may exhibit the following traits:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling unworthy of the relationship and staying in it no matter how harmful it is
  • Defining himself/herself through admirable qualities by comparison to the other person and how well he/she takes care of the person
  • Exaggerated feelings of responsibility for the other person’s health and welfare
  • Trying to fix people
  • Getting hurt easily by others and when his/her help is not acknowledged
  • Exaggerated concern about what others think of him/her
  • Fear of being alone or abandoned and always needing to be in a relationship
  • Difficulty being assertive or taking care of his/her own needs
  • Indecisiveness
  • Problems with intimacy and communicating feelings
  • Feeling embarrassed when he/she or a loved one makes a mistake
  • Inability to say “no” and strong desire to please people
  • Poor interpersonal boundaries, either too strict or too weak

Why Codependency A Problem

An individual in a codependent relationship is not just at risk for continued emotional and mental neglect or abuse. Codependency can put a person at a higher risk for developing a mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety. Additionally, there is a risk for developing a substance abuse problem. The more a person relies upon the codependent, the more needed and fulfilled he/she feels, and thus it becomes a vicious circle that further damages both individuals.

Treatment For Codependency

For a person to fully recover from a mental disorder or addiction, professional, specialized treatment is required, and the same principle applies to treating a person who is a codependent. Treatment can include medication, therapy or a combination of both.

Psychotherapy is the main treatment for codependency. This can include cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches a person to identify negative thoughts and redirect them to achieve a healthier outcome. Alternative therapies include dialectal behavior therapy, neurofeedback and cognitive remediation to gain the skills needed to recognize the triggers for codependency and treat the underlying etiologies.

Therapy can also help to identify any underlying issues, such as childhood abuse or neglect. Family and relationship counseling can also be helpful in rebuilding relationships, helping the codependent person work through his/her behavior patterns.

Effective treatment can help address addiction and mental health problems, allowing a patient to overcome both conditions and, thereby, reducing the risk of relapse. Sovereign treats all conditions concurrently.

Sovereign Health of Arizona

Sovereign Health of Chandler’s women-only residential center in Arizona treats, trauma, addiction and mental health disorders, with both a dual diagnosis program as well as an exclusive mental health program. Sovereign Health of Arizona places special emphasis on treating trauma that may have been caused by physical or mental abuse, substance abuse or mental disorders.

Our centers throughout the U.S. are based on the philosophy that recognizes all patients’ unique needs and circumstances by providing them with personalized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. Our therapists teach life skills, so that patients develop the tools they need to lead productive lives and avoid future relapse.

Sovereign Health of Arizona offers fun, therapeutic activities, such as equine therapy, art therapy, music, yoga, meditation and exercise. Our patients enjoy accommodations in an upscale residential neighborhood. In addition, healthy, delicious meals are cooked on site, allowing patients to focus completely on their recovery.

Sovereign Health of Chandler’s women’s center accepts most major health insurance plans. If you would like further information about treatment for codependency, please call our 24/7 helpline to speak with a member of our admissions team.


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