Co-Dependency and Defeating Addiction

Co-dependency can affect addicts and their families alike. It is also common in dysfunctional relationships. Co-dependency is characterised by sacrificing one’s own personal needs in order to try and meet the needs of the person. Co-dependents need to be needed; but underneath that need is often very unhealthy and destructive emotions such as fear, anxiety, resentment and the constant need for approval and affirmation. Co-dependents are literally addicted to another person; their whole thought process and life will be focused on that one individual, causing themselves immense pain and suffering. Its consequences can be devastating to the sufferer and the illness presents in many different forms. Co-dependency can also deeply affect the individual who is the object of the co-dependents focus and methods of control. It is important to realise that the root of co-dependency is within the individual and not their individual circumstances and surroundings. This is contrary to what the co-dependent believe; they believe that they would be happy and everything would be okay if only the individual they are co-dependent on would behave as they want them to.

What Causes Co-dependency?

Co-dependency usually manifests in childhood, as a learned behaviour. This frequently occurs in children who are exposed to dysfunctional relationships or abuse. Typical examples that can cause co-dependency to develop are: children caring for an alcoholic/addict/disabled/mentally unwell parent or their own siblings, due to their parent’s shortfalls. Or a child that is subjected to some form of abuse either mentally, physically or sexually. They learn from a young and impressionable age to put the needs of others in front of their own basic, emotional, mental and physical needs as a child. Often they are subject to emotional blackmail, keeping secrets, control and manipulation. As a child, they learn that this behaviour is normal and so carry it on into adulthood and into their own personal relationships with others.

A Co-dependent will often seek out an individual as a partner that needs them; this can lead them getting into very harmful and destructive relationships, such as with someone who is physically, mentally or emotionally abusive or unwell. They believe that they have the power to fix this person and will often go to great lengths, at a great cost to their own wellbeing, to do so.

What Is Co-dependency in Addiction?

In Addiction there is a common form of co-dependency, the addict and the co-dependent. Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease, that not only affects the sufferer in every way imaginable, but it also affects those that love and care for them. Those that are very close to the addict can begin to exhibit similar characteristics and behaviours to those presented in the addict. The long-term effects of addiction and co-dependency have a ripple effect. Even once the addiction has been successfully treated, the co-dependents traits can continue. This is both dangerous and counterproductive for the addict and the co-dependent alike.

Oasis Bradford recognise the devastating effects that addiction has on family members and partners and how this can lead to co-dependency, in those predisposed to it. Co-dependency is often present in the partners and close family members of the addict, who have concentrated their efforts on getting the addict well. Co-dependents are always setting themselves up for failure, as they do not comprehend that they cannot control another’s actions. It is for this reason why Oasis Bradford offer a Family Recovery Programme. In order for the family to move forward, along with their newly recovered loved one, it is important that all who have been affected learn how to recover too. Their relationship with the addict must be rebuilt on new and healthier terms. Some individuals may be so badly affected by co-dependency that they too require inpatient treatment. It is important not to underestimate how devastating co-dependency can be to an individual’s, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Without the object of their co-dependency present, they will feel desperately empty, depressed, lost and without purpose.

Addicted to the Addict

Another common form of co-dependency is two addicts together. In addition, isolated from family and friends by their addiction, they become completely entwined in each other’s lives and reliant on each other for love and support. The truth is any addict in active addiction cannot even love and care for themselves, let alone anyone else. It can become a vicious cycle of one getting clean and then relapsing because the other does not follow suit. Any individual who gets clean and finds recovery, only to return to a partner or to live with a family member that is still drinking or using, is putting themselves and their recovery at great risk. For the relationship to stand any chance of surviving and becoming healthy, both individuals must find recovery, independently and for themselves…and not for each other.

How to Handle Co-dependency in the Family?

Co-dependency often manifests in the loved ones of those in active addiction. At Oasis Bradford we meet many a father, mother, husband, wife, brother, sister, son and daughter who have dependently supported their loved one. Inadvertently they have enabled the addict to carry on in their addiction and maladaptive behaviours, by providing them with food, shelter, money and a safety net. Believing their actions were for the best and trying to keep their loved one safe, they have prevented the individual from hitting a place of true desperation for recovery.

An individual suffering from the disease of addiction creates a sickness around them, as they lie, cheat, manipulate, steal and collude in order to get what they want and need to feed their addiction. Some family members and loved ones will distance themselves from the addict, realising that there is little they can do to help them and that the addict needs to want to stop for themselves. Others will go to great lengths and become co-dependent; feeling that they can in some way protect them from consequences and harm and help to fix their addiction, thus saving them. They neglect their own wellbeing and needs as their focus becomes the addict, the control methods, the drama and the constant need to be needed by them. In cases where co-dependency in the family has developed, the co-dependent will take on some or even all of the traits of the addict, they will typically lie for the addict, manipulate, collude, cover up, bribe, beg, control and try emotional blackmail; anything to get the addict to behave in the way that the co-dependent wants them to.

Co-dependents frequently set themselves up for failure and have unrealistic expectations of others; as a result they find themselves frequently angry, upset and anxious when their attempts to “save” the family member do not work. They often also show characteristics of blaming themselves and feel overwhelmed by guilt; feeling that their own shortfalls in the relationship are the cause of their loved one becoming an addict or alcoholic.

Am I Co-dependent?

If you are wondering if you suffer from co-dependency, it is wise to get help promptly. Ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly; this will give you an indication if you have a problems that need professional help and treatment:

  • Is my main focus in life the behaviour and wellbeing of another?
  • Do I neglect myself, my life and my own responsibilities as a result of trying to help another?
  • Do I seek love and approval from others that are emotionally unable to provide it?
  • Do I obsess, lose sleep or constantly worry about another’s wellbeing and what they are doing?
  • Do I find myself doing things that I feel uncomfortable with, but do them to please another?
  • Do I feel controlled by another person’s actions?
  • Is my mood dependent on what another is feeling, saying or doing?
  • Do I feel I have lost all perspective on what is important in life?
  • Do I feel hopeless, anxious, depressed and alone as a result of my co-dependent issues?
  • Have I isolated from family and friends, as I feel they would disapprove of my behaviours around another person?
  • Do I believe I am the one that can make the difference to another’s life; that no one else can help him or her and that they are unable to help themselves?
  • Do I cover up and lie for someone I love so they do not suffer the consequences of their own actions?
  • Do I give money to someone I love even though I know I will not get it back, or that it is being used to feed an addiction?
  • Do I need to feel needed?
  • Do I feel at a great loss, with no sense of purpose, angry, frustrated and desperate, if the individual does not need me anymore and do I obsess as to how I can get that individual to need to need me?
  • Have I lost my own sense of identity and moral code?
  • Do I feel compelled to keep trying to save someone from the consequences of their actions, regardless of the consequences to myself or others?

Answering yes to one or more of these questions could well indicate that you have a problem with co-dependency. No one wants to admit they are a code pendent; in today’s society we want to appear strong and independent. There is no shame in suffering from co-dependency, it is a real mental health illness and not a sign of weakness. With the correct treatment and support, a full recovery from co-dependency is possible. You can learn to love yourself and find a peace and acceptance within, without the need to be needed by others.

Symptoms of Co-dependency

An individual who suffers from co-dependency, will often feel anxious and be vulnerable to severe bouts of depression. They may also have substance abuse problems, or some other destructive behaviour to cover up and deflect from the pain they experience as a co-dependent sufferer. Many addicts have co-dependency issues and this becomes most apparent when they find recovery and try to have normal and loving relationships. Co-dependents are likely to suffer from low self-worth and self-esteem and are a slave to feelings of shame, guilt and not being good enough. If they are an addict this is a double-edged sword; their co-dependency can propel their addiction to a point where they no longer want to live. Co-dependency can often present as a co-occurring illness alongside addiction. In this case, Oasis Bradford recommend a full inpatient programme to treat both the addiction and co-dependency simultaneously. In this way, permanent recovery from both illnesses can be achieved. Neglecting to treat co-dependency when present with an addiction, can often result in relapse.

For more information on Oasis Bradford inpatient co-dependency programme, please call and speak to us or chat to us LIVE now!

Treatment for Co-dependency

At Oasis Bradford we understand how devastating the effects of co-dependency can be to the individual sufferer and to others that love and care for them. Make no mistake, just because this particular addiction does not necessarily involve a substance, does not make it any less dangerous. Our Family Recovery Programme aims to heal co-dependency issues within the family. It may be that a family member of the addict, suffers to such an extent that they require individual counselling or additional help.

Oasis Bradford are able to successfully treat those with co-dependency whether or not they have a substance addiction or an activity based addiction. We look at the root causes of each patient’s individual illness and treat them as a whole person, using advanced and evidence based treatment techniques. Our clinical team are proficient in treating co-dependency successfully; but to gain the most benefit from professional help, will require an inpatient stay, so that the individual suffering can undergo intensive rehabilitation.

Any individual that completes their treatment programme with us, will receive 12 months complimentary aftercare, to ensure that they stay focused on their recovery and to further assist them with any problems or challenges they are experiencing in the outside world and within their personal relationships with others. Co-dependency is a recognised mental health illness that manifests outwardly in obsessive and compulsive behaviours. We can treat the maladaptive behaviours and the root causes underpinning the condition, to ensure that the individual stays free from co-dependency on a permanent basis. We will provide each individual patient suffering from this illness, with the tools they need to continue their recovery back in the community and so that they can develop a healthy and loving relationship, first of all with themselves and then with others.


For more information on our Family Recovery Programme or inpatient Co-dependency Programme, please call or chat to us LIVE now!

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    21A Bolling Road
    Bradford, West Yorkshire
    BD4 7BG
    United Kingdom
  • Tel. 0203 733 5467
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