September 28, 2012

Are you ‘addicted’ to an addict?

Codependency can arise in any type of relationship, and it can be extremely damaging to both individuals. But when most of us think of codependency, we usually think of the addict and their enmeshed spouse or partner. to David Sack, M.D., by denying the existence of a problem in a relationship — or the relationship itself— trying to control the addict’s drug use or rescuing them from the consequences of their actions, the partner enables the addiction.

So, where do we learn codependent behaviors? Sacks says most people learn them from their role models growing up, especially if they were raised in an addicted or dysfunctional home. It’s important to recognize your codependent behaviors.

Sack, from Addiction Recovery of PsychCentral, outlines five signs that are warnings of codependent behavior.

No. 1 is if you find yourself taking responsibility for others.

“People who struggle with codependency feel a heightened sense of responsibility for the thoughts, needs and decisions of others, as well as their ultimate satisfaction in life,” Sack writes. “Often in a controlling or manipulative way, they try to solve other people’s problems and offer unsolicited advice, doing far more than their share to ensure the individual’s happiness.

“Although their efforts may at first seem noble, they are in fact driven by the codependent’s need to feel needed. Serving others, often to the exclusion of their own needs and desires, is the only way they feel valued and loved. All of this self-sacrifice leads to anger and resentment, which often manifests in other mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sex and relationship addictions, and substance abuse, as well as physical health problems.”

Click here to read the rest of Sack’s codependency warning signs.

David Sack, M.D., is board certified in addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine.

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