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How Can I Break Free From Codependency?

When a person is codependent, they often sacrifice their personal needs in an attempt to meet the needs of others. Codependency happens when a person is in a dysfunctional or one-sided relationship. You tend to focus all of your attention, thoughts, and actions around the other person, relying on them to meet nearly all of your emotional and self-esteem needs. Codependency is a sign that your relationships are unbalanced and unhealthy. An individual who struggles with codependency can also be responsible for enabling another person to maintain maladaptive behavior, such as addiction. People who are codependent can have an unrealistic expectation of themselves to fix, save, or cure others. 

Codependency is more than just a relationship problem. Its wounds cut deep within a person’s psyche and hinder their personal development. Codependency can run deeper than you realized until you start receiving treatment. Although codependency is not classified as a mental health disorder, it can cause a person to develop other mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression. 

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency is often linked to a person’s childhood. People who find themselves in codependent relationships often grew up in a home environment where their emotions were ignored or punished. They experienced emotional neglect by their guardians, causing them to develop low self-esteem and strong negative feelings like shame and unworthiness. 

In some cases, individuals who suffer from codependency grew up with one or more parents that failed to be healthy guardians. Their parents may have struggled with a substance use disorder, mental health issues, or other illnesses. In these cases, the child may have been forced to grow up much faster than usual, causing them to take on inappropriate responsibilities for their age. These responsibilities could have included caring for younger siblings, dropping out of school to support the parent, taking on household chores, or finding a way to gain income to help their family get by.

As a child, codependent behaviors become a means of survival. As they transition into adulthood, these behaviors are not as adaptive, as they prevent you from developing healthy relationships with your family, your friends, your romantic partners, and your greater social circle.

Codependency and Addiction

Codependent behavior can arise in a relationship when one participant is struggling with addiction. A romantic partner’s substance use or other addictions can cause their partner to take on the role of fixer or caretaker. They may feel like they are responsible for curing their loved one of this disease. As their partner struggles with addiction, a person may find themselves taking on all their shared responsibilities, from managing the household finances to caring for the house and family. If the addiction causes issues outside of the relationship, the codependent person may even enable behaviors. It’s common for people in codependent relationships to cover for their loved ones, making excuses as to why they are not in attendance at work or family gatherings.  

You genuinely want to help your loved one as they struggle with addiction, yet your actions enable your partner to continue engaging in destructive behavior, and may even be causing them to put off seeking treatment. Not only can codependent behavior create excuses for the person with addiction to not get help, but the codependent person can forget to take care of their own needs, the relationship to falter and crumble on both sides.

How Do I Know If I’m Codependent?

Individuals who are codependent usually have an unhealthy relationship with themselves. They become so absorbed in helping another person that they soon abandon the importance of meeting their own needs. Symptoms of codependency include:

  • Low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness
  • Inability to maintain healthy boundaries
  • A constant need to please others
  • An unhealthy need to maintain control as a defense mechanism for feeling safe
  • Inability to effectively communicate
  • Obsessive behaviors
  • Denial

You do not need to have all of these symptoms to be codependent. Although codependency is not a diagnosis, it can dangerously interfere with your overall well-being, making it incredibly important for you to seek treatment for it. A person in a state of codependency may be suffering from severe conditions associated with depression, anxiety, borderline personality, dependent personality, and eating disorders. 

You can be healed. Through recovery, you can learn how to love yourself. At RECO, we offer an array of therapeutic modalities in a safe, non-judgemental environment that can help you recognize the difference between a codependent relationship and a healthy partnership. Breaking free from codependency begins with you. You can build healthier relationships by overcoming codependency, breaking cycles of enabling behavior, and focusing on self-care, all while also doing the crucial work of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.


You can build healthier relationships and work towards overcoming codependency. If you or someone you love is struggling with codependency, effective treatment is just a phone call away. One of the first steps you will take is receiving guidance and support from a mental health professional. Sometimes we don’t even realize the depth of our behaviors or see how unhealthy they are for us. Codependency goes beyond being in an unhealthy relationship. These symptoms are deeply ingrained habits, and will be difficult to identify and change on your own, so meeting with a professional is highly recommended. Studies show that symptoms of codependency can intensify to dangerous lengths when left untreated. Through effective treatment, a person can explore the roots of their behaviors and learn skills that will help them learn to balance their needs with those of others. Don’t feel the need to break free from codependency all on your own. Let RECO Intensive be the ones to help you along this journey. Call (561) 464-6533 to learn more.

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