Recovery from Codependency, Relationship Addiction, and the Family Disease



What are these conditions? The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. The Family Disease specifically refers to persons who are affected by someone who is an alcoholic or addict-- whether or not that person is in recovery. The other two terms also include relationships with persons who are not an alcoholic or addict. The person may be completely normal when it comes to drinking alcohol, but they are abusive, have anger issues, are controlling, and are causing a great deal of harm. Common symptoms of these conditions:

  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others

  • A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue

  • A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time

  • A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts

  • An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment

  • An extreme need for approval and recognition

  • A sense of guilt when asserting themselves

  • A compelling need to control others

  • Lack of trust in self and/or others

  • Fear of being abandoned or alone

  • Difficulty identifying feelings

  • Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change

  • Problems with intimacy/boundaries

  • Chronic anger

  • Lying/dishonesty

  • Poor communications

  • Difficulty making decisions

I pulled the above list from https://www.mhanational.org/issues/co-dependency. They go into codependency in great detail. http://coda.org/ and https://www.codependencynomore.com are also very helpful. If you, or someone you know, is affected by an alcoholic, or a person who drinks, and it is having a detrimental effect https://al-anon.org/ is an excellent resource. Each of these organizations uses a different approach. The path to recovery is not a one-size-fits all deal. In general, I suggest that a person give a program at least a 3-6 month consistent trial. One session, or meeting, is usually not enough to make an informed decision. I also suggest, just as I do to those wanting to recover from an alcohol use disorder, or substance addiction, please seek out some kind of support group. It is often more difficult for persons who are codependent, struggle with relationship addiction, or have “the Family Disease” to do this, because these conditions involve people, not substances. These persons may feel completely cut-off from others. If you know someone, or are someone, in a position where the abuser controls every, single move-- a more serious intervention must happen before recovery can be addressed. In this case I suggest contacting The National Domestic Violence Hotline

No matter which terminology rings true for you, or possibly someone you know, please understand these conditions are every bit as life-threatening as a practicing alcoholic, or addict. My posts this week will talk about a few of the MANY ways that Naturopathic Medicine can assist persons in these situations. As licensed doctors, we are well-equipped to help identify effective treatments for the medical toll these conditions take on a person, such as:

  • chronic anxiety

  • sleep issues

  • hypertention

  • depression

  • and the list goes on…

As your friendly, neighborhood ND-- I am also happy to be there, if you want to come in, and use a visit with me as an excuse to get a moment away from the harmful relationship. I can’t give you a free visit, but I can give you a space to make a phone call to any of the above organizations Help is available, no matter your situation. There is hope.

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