If you think you have a problem with codependence, treatment is available and can help you feel better. Healing takes time and hard work, but talking with other codependents and seeing a therapist are two of the best ways to start your recovery.
Treatment may consist of individual therapy, group therapy and, eventually, couples and family therapy. A clinical social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist with experience treating codependents and families of addicts can help you identify and discuss the feelings, thoughts and behaviors that you and others find troubling.
Many advocates of the codependency theory view codependency as a type of addiction. Therefore, they maintain that codependents can overcome their symptoms with a 12-step process similar to that used by Alcoholics Anonymous.
Twelve-step recovery programs bring codependents together as a group to talk about their struggles and share hope and experiences. The 12-step recovery process involves spirituality and is nondenominational. Codependents Anonymous meetings can provide participants with a great source of emotional and practical support. Program recovery involves admitting your life has become unmanageable because of your codependence. It requires expressing your feelings, doing what you can to get better and letting go of things you can’t control. Familiar 12-step affirmations include “One Day at a Time,” “Easy Does It,” “Let Go and Let God (a higher power).”
If you are interested in going to a meeting, contact your local mental health center and ask where you can find a Codependents Anonymous meeting in your area.
If you are confronting codependence issues as well as mental illness such as a depression or anxiety disorder [Link to articles on Depression and Anxiety Disorder], you might want to see your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist. He can determine whether medication such as an antidepressant might help you. Often those who take medication and attend therapy and 12-step sessions find this combination to be the fastest and easiest way to get well.
The key to healing a “wounded self” is to change the distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that result from having grown up in a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive and spiritually hostile environment.
Most therapists agree that part of this healing process must involve grief. Grieving for the pain that caused the codependence and for the difficulties you suffered is a difficult but rewarding process. Learning to love yourself requires acknowledging your shame, disowning it, grieving the emotional damage you have sustained and healing the emotional wounds.