Codependency is a type of dysfunctional relationship wherein one person enables the other to perpetuate compulsive and potentially self-destructive behaviors. Codependency may be rooted in childhood trauma or specific personality traits that encourage individuals to put someone else’s needs above their own and require external sources to feel worthy, Psych Central reports.
Treatment for codependent relationships may include counseling and therapy sessions, both in group and individual formats. Both parties can learn healthy communication tools and skills to improve self-confidence and rebuild feelings of self-worth to foster a healthy relationship. According to SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP), the “helper” member of a codependent relationship may suffer from anger, shame, isolation, chronic stress, anxiety, trouble with intimacy or inappropriate sexual behaviors, and isolation. Individuals may neglect their own health needs and spend so much of their time focused on their partner that they may not recognize their own needs or sense of self.
Family or couples therapy may be an important aspect of treatment, as is individual mental health counseling and therapy. Intensive Systemic Family Therapy methods work to improve the entire family unit by focusing on personal interactions and communication skills. This therapy is usually a short-term treatment method that may be followed with aftercare and recovery services.
Both the person abusing drugs and the partner enabling this behavior may need to learn new coping mechanisms and life skills through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Drug abuse makes changes to a person’s brain chemistry, often creating a desired high and may be accompanied by mood swings, erratic behavior, and impaired functioning.
Drug abuse and addiction may also potentially need to be addressed through detox first to safely remove toxins from the body in order to manage any potential withdrawal side effects. Withdrawal symptoms may include flulike symptoms as well as irritability, depression, drug cravings, insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or trouble feeling pleasure.
Depression and anxiety commonly co-occur with substance abuse and in codependent relationships. Medications may be useful during treatment and recovery in tandem with therapeutic and behavioral methods.
Support groups can be very helpful to family members and individuals in recovery from codependence and/or drug abuse, as shared experiences and a shoulder to lean on may help to prevent relapse. In addition, such support can help individuals to remain vigilant and able to accept themselves as worthy on their own. Codependent relationships may often be accompanied by drug abuse, and both are recoverable conditions with comprehensive treatment methods.
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