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Family and Friends of Alcoholics and Addicts This forum is for families and friends whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking and/or drug abuse.

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Old 08-29-2013, 11:58 AM   #1
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Default The Definition of Co-Dependency

The Definition of Co-Dependency

Co-dependency is a term being used with increasing frequency in the field of chemical dependency treatment. Unfortunately, no clear definition of the term has emerged, which has led to confusion and loss of credibility. Frequently, the term has replaced the phrase "significant other" in Alcohol and other Drug Abuse counseling and treatment and means very little except that the person has been exposed to another's alcohol or drug abuse or dependence. It is generally agreed that a co-dependent is someone whose life has been significantly affected by another person's use of alcohol or mood-altering chemicals. It is the belief of my learned colleagues that if co-dependency is to have value as a concept, it must be limited to those individuals who develop a series of generally predictable and problematic responses from that exposure.

Co-dependency has been defined as a pattern of beliefs about life, learned behavior, and habitual feelings that make life painful. The external locus of control of the codependent person that makes the co-dependent rely on things outside of themselves for self-worth. Another definition is co-dependency is a dyfunctional pattern of living and problem solving which is nurtured by a set of rules within the family system. A more limited term, "co-alcoholic" has been defined as a ill pattern of health, maladaptive or problematic behavior that is associated with living, working with or otherwise being close to an alcoholic. Some would say co-alcoholics are adults who help maintain the social and economic equilrium if the alcoholic/addict. Children who grow up in a family with the alcohol syndrome and learn behavior from both the alcoholic and the co-alcoholic parent. It is suggested that co-dependency is one of a newly perceived class of problems that is simultaneously both interactive and intrapsychic in nature.
The effects of living in an alcoholic/addict or similar environment are so strong that an individual may be affected at any stage of life. Thus, children of alcoholics, adult children of alcoholics and adult spouses of alcoholics all can suffer serious damage to their sense of reality, ability to trust, self-image, etc. Furthermore, this damage does not necessarily diminish when the immediate source of tension is removed. Co-dependents may continue to suffer serious consequences for years after their initial exposure, leading generally joyless, loveless and mindless "existences"

A co-dependent is an individual who has been significantly affected in specific ways by current or past involvement in alcoholic, chemically dependent, or other long-term, stressful family environment. Specific effects include: fear (b) shame/guilt (c) prolonged despair, (d)anger, (e)denial, (f) impaired identity development, and (g) confusion.

The addiction process is an unhealthy and abnormal disease process whose assumptions, beliefs, and lack of spiritual awareness lead to a process of nonliving which is progressive......


1. My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you and receiving approval from you.

2. Your struggles affect my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain.

3. My attention is focused on pleasing you, protecting you, manipulating you to "do it my way".

4. My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems and relieving your pain.

5. My own hobbies and interests are put aside. My time is spent sharing your interests and hobbies.

6. Because I feel you are a reflection of me, your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires.

7. Your behavior is dictated by my desires.

8. I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel. I am not aware of what I want. I ask you what you want. If I am not aware of some thing, I assume.

9. The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.

10. My fear of your anger and rejection determine what I say or do. In our relationship, I use giving as a way of feeling safe.

If this is your M.O. Do you want to change?
Do you want to stop. Do you want to live?
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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