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What is Codependency?
Codependency is a learned behavior passed down from one generation to the next. It is an emotional and behavioral disorder that impairs a person’s capacity for stable, mutually beneficial relationships. It describes a pattern of dysfunctional conduct in relationships where one or both parties exhibit an unhealthy, emotionally harmful, and/or abusive dependence on the other.1 It is also sometimes characterized as “relationship addiction.”
Often, childhood is where codependency begins. A child frequently grows up in a family where their emotions are disregarded or disciplined. Due to this emotional neglect, the child may experience shame and low self-esteem. As a result, they could think their needs are unimportant and should not be met.
Most of the time, one or more parents are not acting in their capacity as guardians. Addiction, mental health conditions, or other issues could all contribute to their malfunction. The child might be required to complete things beyond their developmental level. For example, a child might learn to cook so the family won’t go without food if a father is often too inebriated to prepare dinner.
Addiction and codependence are closely related. Codependency disorder was discovered about ten years ago due to extensive research into interpersonal interactions in alcoholic families. Codependent behaviors can be picked up by observing and copying other family members’ behaviors.2
In addition, a parent who is a victim of domestic abuse could confide in their child. A narcissistic parent could want their child to console and praise them. Enmeshment is a common term for these types of relationships.
While children are still developing, playing the part of “adult” may require all of their energy. A child may be so preoccupied with running the home that they neglect their own needs. As a result, they feel more secure and in control while providing care. Codependent tendencies can be essential for a child’s survival. The behaviors are less adaptable as people age. Codependency can prohibit someone from forging genuinely healthy and stable bonds with others.3
When parents cannot foster a stable bond, their children may view their relationship as normal. The child could take on the role of caregiver if a parent doesn’t create a nurturing environment. They might also discover that even those who claim to love them might do them harm. As a result, the child can grow up to be a people-pleaser who battles with boundaries and feelings of worthlessness.4
Statistics on Codependency
- Data from more than 500 persons who called a drug-related toll-free number to request assistance for a family member were used in one study. According to the findings, 64% of the participants—primarily wives and mothers of drug users—exhibited high levels of codependency.5
- Codependency affects women more often than it does males.6
- According to a 1998 study, almost 40 million Americans struggle with codependency.
- According to some estimates, more than 90% of Americans engage in codependent behavior at some point in their lives.7
- One study examined 60 wives of substance abusers for signs of codependency. 49 of the 60 participants exhibited codependency. Also, these women had less social support and fewer coping mechanisms.8
- According to studies, codependency is prevalent in persons raised by parents with substance abuse issues, who experience chronic family stress, who have children who exhibit behavioral problems, and who provide care for the chronically ill.9
Symptoms of Codependency
Symptoms of codependency usually include:
- Low self-esteem
- Few to no boundaries
- A desire to “save” others
- Control issues
- Fear of abandonment
- History of family dysfunction
- Anxiety and depression
- Desire to always be involved in a relationship
- Confusing love and pity
- Dwelling on mistakes
- A strong need to be liked
Not all codependent individuals display all of these signs, some of which are common and don’t necessarily indicate codependency. Yet if someone you know or you exhibit many of these symptoms, therapy for codependency may be necessary. When these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors take an excessive or compulsive form, codependents often struggle throughout their adult lives to achieve happiness unrelated to another person.
If you’re still uncertain, below are a few questions that can help determine whether or not you or a loved one is codependent.
- Do you go to great lengths to accommodate your partner’s requirements at the expense of your own needs?
- Is it difficult to say no when your partner demands your time and energy?
- Do you justify your partner’s legal, drug, or alcohol issues?
- Do you worry a lot about what other people think of you?
- Do you feel confined by your relationship?
- Do you stay silent to prevent conflicts?
- When you make a mistake, do you feel like a “bad person?”
- Do you find it difficult to accept gifts or compliments?
- Do you find it difficult to ask for help?
Suppose you identified with and answered yes to several of these questions and are unhappy with yourself or your relationships. In that case, you might want to think about codependency therapy.
Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.
Codependency Treatment & Therapy
If codependency is not treated, it has been shown to worsen. Furthermore, it frequently results in extreme anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts or urges. Nonetheless, codependency is a disorder that can be treated.
Family therapy, relationship counseling, group therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are some of the most effective codependency interventions. However, treatment medications are rarely utilized to treat codependency unless a person is receiving treatment for another mental health condition simultaneously.
Codependency therapy will most likely begin with an assessment. Treatment will focus on your current relationship, past relationships, and any childhood trauma that may have contributed to the development of specific behaviors or ways of thinking. Depending on the nature of your codependency, options for inpatient care may also be viable, particularly if you reside in an unstable home environment or struggle with substance abuse.
A qualified therapist can assist you in recognizing codependent tendencies. With codependency counseling, you’ll discover and accept emotions you may be suppressing. In addition, you’ll have professional support with comprehending the origins of your codependent tendencies and how they’ve affected your relationships.10
Additional benefits of therapy for codependency include:
- Strengthening your interpersonal connections
- Learning how to be there for others without condoning inappropriate behavior
- Learning how to say no and implementing healthy boundaries
- A safe space to practice your assertiveness
- Self-compassion education
- Identifying and changing negative thought patterns
- Learning to be patient and forgiving of yourself
- The desire to overcompensate could wane over time
- Support groups/group therapy creates a solid support system of like-minded individuals
Following the “Four A’s” for codependency therapy and rehabilitation is the best place to start for the codependent person and their loved ones.
The following are the steps:11
- Abstinence: This first point explicitly discusses codependent relationships in which one or both individuals abuse substances. Only when people in codependent situations remain clean and give up using drugs and/or alcohol will healing be possible.
- Awareness: Effective codependency counseling for long-term recovery begins with awareness. Codependents can start making significant, long-lasting adjustments by acknowledging their codependency and becoming conscious of the issue(s).
- Acceptance: Although acknowledging a situation’s reality can be challenging, doing so is necessary for recovery. Codependent individuals can comprehend the changes that must occur to live a happier, more meaningful life once they accept that their current behaviors are the source of dissatisfaction.
- Action: The ideas above are crucial for the success of codependency therapy, but they can only help a person so far in their recovery. Action must be taken to bring about long-lasting changes, which include reducing behaviors that foster addiction and enhancing communication and behaviors that support healthier relationships.
Codependency Treatment Costs & Insurance Coverage
In the United States, therapy for codependency, or talk therapy, typically costs between $100 and $200 per session.12 Certain factors can affect this cost, such as your location in Tennessee and the codependency therapist you choose.
Unfortunately, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) hasn’t recognized codependency as an official disorder. Therefore, most insurance companies likely won’t cover codependency counseling since there are no diagnostic criteria.13
To gain insurance coverage for codependency therapy, you may need to seek treatment for codependency-related problems like depression or anxiety. Insurers typically consider this therapy treatment less likely to require long-term care. In addition, you’re more likely to be approved for insurance coverage if your codependency coincides with substance addiction.
Athena Care is in-network with most major insurance plans. Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best, most efficient method to determine if your insurance covers therapy for codependency.
Our highly skilled care coordinators will handle the difficulties of contacting your insurance provider for more information about codependency counseling in Tennessee. After you’ve completed the no-obligation form, a care coordinator will review your policy and thoroughly explain your options for codependency therapy. You can rest assured that all submitted and discussed information will remain confidential throughout the entire process.
Codependency Treatment Success & Outlook
It can take a lot of time, patience, and support to break codependent patterns and beliefs, which can be deeply ingrained. However, the outlook for a codependent person is positive when steps are taken to regain healthy boundaries, self-worth, and quality of life with professional help and the support of loved ones. It is entirely possible to overcome codependency.
There is a common misconception among patients that receiving treatment will instantly improve their condition. While this is sometimes the case, it usually takes longer to feel better, and it’s possible to feel worse before feeling better. Look for minor improvements over a more extended period, remembering that progress, not perfection, is always the goal.
Below are some additional signs that codependency therapy is working:14
- You compliment yourself and validate your feelings.
- You don’t need other people to feel valuable and deserving of attention.
- You focus more on what you do well than what you do wrong or inadequately.
- You have reasonable standards for yourself.
- Even small strides in the right direction are cause for celebration.
- You look after your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, prioritizing activities that make you feel good.
- You don’t take things personally, and you aren’t as reactive.
- You are setting boundaries and having an easier time saying “no.”
- You understand that you don’t owe anyone anything.
- You don’t feel guilty about allowing yourself to rest.
- You acknowledge that you have no control over others and give up trying to change or improve them.
While some individuals respond to codependency therapy in a matter of weeks or months, others might take longer. The duration will vary from individual to individual and depend upon several factors, including the types of therapy you’re undergoing.
For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is generally viewed as a short-term therapy consisting of five to twenty sessions. You and your therapist can talk about how many sessions are ideal for you.15 CBT has been proven to be a successful method of treating various mental health issues.16
- Newport Institute Staff. “Codependency Disorder in Young Adults.” Newport Institute, 13 June 2022, www.newportinstitute.com/resources/co-occurring-disorders/codependency-disorder-and-young-adults.
- “Co-Dependency.” Mental Health America, www.mhanational.org/co-dependency. Accessed 7 Mar. 2023.
- GoodTherapy Editor Team. What Does Codependency Look Like? 21 Nov. 2019, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/codependency.
- Bacsi, Kira. “Codependency.” The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab, 25 May 2022, www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/codependency.
- Bortolon, Cassandra Borges, et al. “Family Functioning and Health Issues Associated With Codependency in Families of Drug Users.” Ciencia & Saude Coletiva, vol. 21, no. 1, Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva, Jan. 2016, pp. 101–07. https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232015211.20662014.
- Hughes-Hammer, Cyrilla, et al. “Depression and Codependency in Women.” Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, vol. 12, no. 6, Elsevier BV, Dec. 1998, pp. 326–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0883-9417(98)80046-0.
- Miele, Jon. “Family Life Matters: Combating Codependency.” www.army.mil, 5 Nov. 2014, www.army.mil/article/137572/family_life_matters_combating_codependency.
- Bhowmick, P et al. “Social support, coping resources and codependence in spouses of individuals with alcohol and drug dependence.” Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 43,3 (2001): 219-24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21407858/
- Ançel, Gülsüm, and Elif Kabakçi. “Psychometric Properties of the Turkish Form of Codependency Assessment Tool.” Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, vol. 23, no. 6, Elsevier BV, Dec. 2009, pp. 441–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2008.10.004.
- GoodTherapy Editor Team. “Recovery From Codependency.” GoodTherapy, 21 Nov. 2019, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/codependency/recovery.
- Rehab 4 Addiction. “Co-dependency Treatment | Rehab 4 Addiction.” Rehab 4 Addiction, 10 Feb. 2023, www.rehab4addiction.co.uk/mental-health/codependency-treatment.
- Lauretta, Ashley. “How Much Does Therapy Cost?” Forbes Health, 27 June 2022, www.forbes.com/health/mind/how-much-does-therapy-cost.
- Loverde, Mike. “What Is Dependent Personality Disorder?” Family First Intervention, 9 Nov. 2019, family-intervention.com/blog/what-is-dependent-personality-disorder.
- Lcsw, Sharon Martin. “27 Signs That You’re Recovering From Codependency.” Psych Central, 4 June 2020, psychcentral.com/blog/imperfect/2020/06/27-signs-that-youre-recovering-from-codependency#Signs-of-Codependency-Recovery.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Mayo Clinic. 16 Mar. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610.
- “Overview – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).” National Health Service, www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/overview. Accessed 7 Mar. 2023.
If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.
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