Codependency manifests itself through the behavior of people, who in their wish to help the person who suffers from addiction, end up losing control of their own behavior and eventually of their own lives. Codependents don’t respect their own limits nor their competences (or incompetences).

 In the process of trying to help the addict to stop using, codependents will progressively neglect their needs and ethical values, which brings them to a loss of self-esteem and to a process of self-destruction. Codependents will develop strategies to maintain the balance of the system they are in, which has a tendency to deteriorate in view of the damages caused by the progression of the disease of addiction. To maintain a certain balance, codependents enter into action without taking into account their limits and their needs. Their existence is progressively ruled by the behavior of the addict and they concentrate their efforts to save the situation which becomes increasingly unbearable. Codependents can develop a real emotional dependency with the addict that turns into a fusional relationship.

 Such a relationship, hinders addicts from being confronted to the consequences, increasingly disastrous of their disease. Unwillingly, codependents help addicts to « avoid » confrontation with reality by doing super human efforts for their lives to remain afloat. Paradoxically, this fusional relationship has the effect of refraining the need of those involved to seek professional help outside the relationship.

 Codependents often ignore that addiction is a disease and that they don’t have the means to treat it. In fact, it’s by trying to help the addict to stop using at « any cost » that they progressively lose control of their own existence. They try to control a situation by making efforts to take over the addict’s responsibilities, and as a result their lives become increasingly chaotic. They sacrifice their own interests and well-being. In spite of the fact that their efforts don’t help the addict to stop using, they mostly don’t manage to change their behavior without professional help. Exhausted, they persist in useless efforts, trying to control the using and the consequent behavior of the addict, until falling ill themselves. This behavior can be associated to a form of denial. Codependents deny that what they are doing doesn’t help to solve the problem but they persist in their behavior nevertheless, hoping that « this time it’ll work ». Even if they become conscious of the inefficiency of their efforts, they don’t manage to change their behavior without specialized help.

 The addict’s use and consequential problems are at the heart of codependents. Daniela Danis underlines the importance for each person involved in this process to find his autonomy and his true responsibility. She does not accuse nor points out guilts or puts blames, she rather stresses the need for everyone involved in this process to find his/her balance by introducing certain changes in their attitudes and their behaviors in order to find hope again for a more balanced life.

© Muriel 2014