Emotional codependency treatment

Codependency: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What Is Codependency?

Codependency refers to a complex emotional and behavioral condition that affects a person’s ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. Codependency can affect a wide range of relationships including parents and children, siblings, friends, significant others or co-workers. It is not uncommon for the dependent party to additionally suffer from either a chronic mental illness or an addiction. 

Relationships formed through codependency are often characterized as abusive, one-sided or emotionally destructive. If you suspect you or someone you love is in a codependent relationship, the experts at Banner Health have the resources you need to get help. 

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency was first identified after years of studying the interpersonal relationships of people with alcohol addictions. Codependency is learned behavior, usually during childhood, that can develop while growing up in a dysfunctional family or by watching and imitating family members who also display codependent behaviors.

Originally, a codependent personality was only used to describe the partners, family members or friends of an addict. Today, the term is used to describe a codependent person from any dysfunctional family. A dysfunctional family is described as a family whose members suffer from pain, anger, fear or shame that is denied or ignored due to underlying issues. These problems can stem from a mentally or physically ill family member, an abusive family member or a damaging parental relationship.

In dysfunctional families, these issues are not addressed or confronted. As a result, emotions are repressed and needs are disregarded. Patients suffering from codependency often believe their needs don’t matter or that they are the root of the family issues. In turn, the codependent person’s attention shifts to caring for the person who is addicted or ill. These relationship dynamics are usually carried into adulthood, which can result in relationships that elicit repeated scary, unsatisfying and confusing feelings.

Signs of Codependency

Signs, symptoms and indicators of codependent behavior can include:

  • Poor boundaries with others
  • Low-self esteem
  • Caretaking
  • Obsessions
  • A need for control
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Trouble identifying or communicating thoughts, feelings or needs
  • Chronic anger or strong, emotional reactions
  • An extreme need for approval or recognition
  • Denial of problems
  • Anxiety or fear about being rejected, judged or abandoned
  • Intimacy or relationship issues
  • Lying

Screenings and Diagnosis for Codependency

Currently, there’s no official screening or diagnosis for codependency as a lot of the traits for codependency overlap with other mental illnesses. If you think you or a loved one show signs of codependency, talk to your doctor.

After an initial assessment, your doctor may diagnose you or refer you to a mental health specialist who can further test and treat codependency using a series of questions to rule out other mental illnesses.

Treatments for Codependency

The best treatment for codependency is psychotherapy. Therapies focused on noticing behaviors and changing reactions, like cognitive behavioral therapy, can help all parties involved in a codependent relationship.

Sobriety is necessary if substance abuse is involved in the codependent relationship. This can be difficult for people who suffer from codependency and exhibit enabling behaviors, as they can feel a sense of reward for helping the addicted person acquire drugs or alcohol.

The first step to recovering from codependency is acknowledging that codependency exists. You can trust the caring and compassionate staff at Banner Health to be with you every step of the way through recovery.

What Is Codependency Treatment? Tampa FL Center

Written by: Editorial Staff

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

A person who is codependent experiences a need to feel depended on to feel loved. This typically occurs with a spouse or romantic partner, but codependency can also involve children, parents or other family members. These kinds of relationships are generally imbalanced — one person’s needs often go unmet in order to meet the needs of the other — and can perpetuate cycles of challenging behavior and addiction.

Codependency can be difficult to recognize and often requires professional treatment. Fortunately there are several effective treatment options available to help you overcome codependent patterns and restore balance to your relationship. 

In some cases, people who develop codependent behaviors grew up in a household with a parent who struggled with addiction, so they are used to the process of caring for a person while they are intoxicated and finding other ways to control their lives. As a result it’s not always obvious when a person is in a codependent relationship. However, being able to identify the signs of codependency can help break out of patterns that may be harmful.

The signs of codependency include:

  • Dependency. A person struggling with codependency needs others to depend on them to provide help, structure, nurturing, support, and more.
  • Low self-esteem. A codependent person may not feel that they are good enough or worthy of love. They may depend on the needs and opinion of others to feel some measure of self-worth.
  • Poor boundaries. People who struggle with codependency will have a poor sense of boundaries — either for themselves or others. In contrast, they may have rigid boundaries and become withdrawn or resentful when the boundary is crossed.
  • People-pleasing. A person struggling with codependency will have a hard time saying “no” to requests. It can lead to feelings of resentment, guilt, shame, or feeling violated because the person pushed themselves too hard to accommodate the needs of others.
  • Caretaking. People who have a codependent relationship style feel like they constantly need to take care of others even when it is to their own detriment. They may even feel rejected if their partner does not need their help.
  • Control. People struggling with codependency over-help to feel in control of the situation.  They may develop their own substance abuse problems to control their moods, they may over-schedule themselves or others, or they may be bossy or emotionally manipulative to control others outside of the codependent relationship.
  • Obsessions. When a person struggles with codependency, they may spend a lot of time thinking about other people’s behaviors and relationships.

Treatment for Codependent Behaviors

While some individuals may be able to break out of patterns of codependent behavior on their own, often it requires professional treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps individuals focus on understanding behaviors and changing reactions.

Other types of therapy can include couples therapy to help both partners in people in codependent relationships; or family therapy to help reduce the impact of codependency among parents, children, and extended family.

Steps that you can take on your own to break out of codependent behavior patterns include:

  • Carving out time alone to explore oneself
  • Reconnecting with work or hobbies outside the codependent relationship
  • Finding ways to say “no” to requests for help
  • Reconnecting with outside friends and family

If anyone in the codependent relationship struggles with substance abuse, it will be imperative to get treatment for this condition along with treatment for codependency.

Codependency and Substance Abuse Treatment

A person working to overcome substance abuse needs support from friends and family. However, it is vital that family support involves boundaries in order to reduce the risk of relapse. People who struggle with enabling or codependency may not be able to appropriately moderate their emotions and boundaries, which can be detrimental to the recovery process.

Codependency is harmful to the person who struggles with it, and it is a hard behavior to change without help. When a person struggling with substance abuse seeks help, this changes larger relationship patterns, and it may be difficult for individuals people who struggle with codependency to change as they feel unsafe or unloved.

However, codependent relationships can be changed for the better. This work requires both parties getting help. In some cases, this may also involve one or all people in the relationship entering treatment for substance abuse.

The Four A’s for Codependency Recovery

Some approaches to codependency treatment involve four steps, called the Four A’s:

  1. Abstinence. This involves taking steps to abstain from codependent behaviors, including “me time” or reinvigorating interest in hobbies.
  2. Awareness. Acknowledging that codependency is a problem, much like acknowledging that substance abuse is a problem, is an important step to getting help and ending problematic behaviors. Awareness includes noticing when you engage in codependent behaviors, like controlling others or overexerting oneself for another person.
  3. Acceptance. Overcoming a mental health condition or substance abuse problem is a lifelong journey that includes therapy at various times, self-care and self-help.
  4. Action. After accepting the condition and being aware of behaviors, it is important to take action to change them. Working with a therapist will help this process.

Contact one of our admissions navigators at to find out about our treatment options for you or your loved one struggling with codependency or addiction. They can help you navigate payment options, the admissions process, or help you find out if your treatment is covered by insurance. 

Reaching out to get help is one of the toughest steps for people struggling with codependency, but it can make all the difference in the world. If you believe that you are struggling with codependency, River Oaks Treatment Center can help. Call us today to learn more about our Tampa addiction recovery center and comprehensive treatment programs.

We've helped over 8,000 people start recovery

We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Let us help you get started with the rest of your life! Retreat to the sunny climate near Tampa, Florida for a stay at the gold standard of treatment facilities. At River Oaks, we offer customized care plans to help you on your recovery journey at our beautiful Hillsborough County campus.

Emotional Addiction Treatment | Dealing with codependency in relationships

Emotional addiction counseling

Codependency in relationships Enroll

The term "emotional dependency" can be used in two situations:

  • co-dependent relationships - formed between a pair of people when they depend on each other;
  • clinical dependence due to medical or mental disorders, alcoholism, gambling.

In Balashikha (Zheleznodorozhny microdistrict) you can get qualified help from a psychologist. The task of the specialist is to help the client change behavior. Working with codependency involves focusing not only on the client, but also on his family members.

How to book an addiction counseling session

Sign up in one of the following ways:

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Codependency: Signs

Codependency in psychology and narcology is understood as a person's dependence on something, in which relatives are dependent on him. For example, the husband suffers from alcoholism, and the wife is interested in him to continue to abuse. While he is drunk, she feels himself needed by him, significant, a kind of savior.

People who become codependent in relationships have characteristic behaviors. Psychologist will help to work through:

  • A constant striving to please a person, to get his approval of the correctness, the necessity of actions, the desire to play the role of a "savior".
  • Often fear of loneliness. A person cannot get out of a relationship, even if the relationship is difficult.
  • No concentration on one's own needs, loss of the ability to experience personal emotions, a person lives the life of another.
  • Craving for the ideal, fear of making a mistake, not meeting someone's expectations. nine0024
  • Painful perception of criticism of one's own actions.
  • Rejection of personal problems.
  • The desire to solve other people's problems, forgetting about oneself.
  • Feeling guilty, taking responsibility for the inconvenience of strangers.
  • Unwillingness to express one's own thoughts and feelings because they may be unpleasant to outsiders.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Self-flagellation.
  • nine0021 A constant desire to take on the burden of someone else's responsibility.
  • An urgent need to control the lives of others.
  • Determination of personal importance in accordance with the care shown towards outsiders.
  • Confidence that they are unworthy of personal happiness.
  • Constant care for people suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism.

Emotional dependence on a man is also common, the symptoms of which are easily recorded in speech. A codependent woman will not say “my husband got into a fight yesterday”, but “we got into a fight again”, which is a clear parallel with how a mother says about her child: “we went to the pediatrician”. The main nuance: one of the couple is a naughty stupid child, the second is a guardian. nine0015

An experienced psychologist will help you deal with all the above problems during a consultation.

Psychological consultation online (via Skype) and in Novi Sad (Serbia)

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Causes of codependence

The roots of the problem are in childhood. Children most at risk:

  • Growing up in families of drug addicts or alcoholics.
  • Experienced violence.
  • Faced with the indifference of relatives. nine0024
  • Forced to meet inflated parental expectations. A child, guarded by adults, obliged to meet their expectations and standards, gradually gets used to giving up his own desires, not showing emotions. In adult life, he only "gives care", having no idea about alternative options.
  • Punished for expressing their own feelings and emotions.

Victims of sexual violence sometimes cannot understand the role of sexual relations, they do not know how to enjoy themselves, they are guided exclusively by the needs of their partner. nine0015

Codependent people enter into such relationships all the time. After parting with an alcoholic, they will find a gamer. The root of troubles is directly in the person.

Addiction and codependency: psychology

We have already determined that the addicted person suffers from addiction (computer games, alcohol, etc.). Codependency is a problem of a different nature when close people from the environment are involved:

  • Legal spouse, mistress, common-law wife. nine0024
  • Parents or children of a dependent person.

Sometimes even addicts themselves become co-dependent in the early or late stages of a disease.

Co-dependent relationships between a man and a woman lead them to:

  • Depression.
  • Negative perception of the world.
  • Lack of sexual contact.
  • Suppression of expression of emotions and feelings.
  • Loss of contact with each other, the ability to communicate calmly. nine0024

Co-dependency in relationships: how to get rid of

Psychological help is the only right solution in a difficult situation:

  • Working with a psychologist will have a positive effect on all family members.
  • The specialist will also help children who, in the absence of proper attention, can grow up to be workaholics-careerists who fall into a love addiction or are obsessed with some kind of obsession.
  • Dependent people, first of all, will have to give up their old habits, since otherwise the probability of relapse is too high. nine0024
  • Assistance will also be provided to women who are in difficult relationships with dependent men.

Psychologist consultation online (via Skype) and in Novi Sad (Serbia)

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How to determine codependence: testing

You can determine codependency by analyzing the signs indicated above and passing a special test. To access it, click on the button below.

Test "Are you codependent?"

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How to get rid of codependence

Is it possible to get rid of codependence and how to do it? What is the essence and basic principles of the "12 Steps" program, according to which the communities of Anonymous Co-Dependents work? A brief historical digression into the beginning of the formation of self-help groups and the further development of communities of anonymous addicts and co-dependents. A detailed description of the specific steps of the program and its results. We decided to get information on this topic from the Chief Physician of the Health Harmony Medical Center, a practicing psychiatrist, psychiatrist-narcologist and psychotherapist Vladislav Sipovich. nine0015

Can a person get out of a co-dependent relationship on his own?

First, let's remember what codependency is. Previously, it meant the psychological dependence of relatives and friends of a person suffering from chemical dependence, associated with the assumption of responsibility for his fate. At the same time, a person devotes himself entirely to solving this problem, and not infrequently it stretches for a lifetime. A co-dependent person forgets about himself, his interests, other family members, cannot perform other social functions, loses his own self. Such a deep and strong dependence on another person and his actions is pathological and destructive for the personality of a co-dependent person. nine0015

Now codependence is understood as dependence not only on a person suffering from addictions, but also on any other person. Moreover, codependence has different components - financial, physical, social, emotional, etc. The Other, and not the personal Ego, becomes the meaning of the life of a co-dependent. The problems, thoughts, feelings and needs of the other are perceived as their own, and his emotions are instantly copied and transmitted to himself. By the way, do not identify the ego with egoism. The essence of the Ego is to protect and preserve the mental health of the individual. In fact, this is the true essence of a person, which, when entering into a co-dependent relationship, is repressed or transformed with very negative consequences for the individual. nine0015

Many people understand the perniciousness of such relationships and try to get rid of them, but few people manage to do it on their own. It is especially difficult to get out of the vicious circle of codependency if both the object and the subject of codependency suffer from addictions. For example, the object has a chemical addiction, and the subject has a love addiction to it.

In psychology and psychotherapy, an opinion is gradually being formed that codependence is the strongest, most persistent, insurmountable human addiction, often hardly noticeable to the person himself and others. It affects and involves two people in the psychopathological process, gradually spreading its negative to the whole family, depriving children of parental care and attention, and elderly family members of decent treatment and peaceful old age. The decision to seek help from specialists is often delayed or does not occur at all to co-addicts, because they are not able to assess the situation, themselves and their actions objectively. Illumination, or better to say insight, will come sooner or later, but the sooner the better for everyone who suffers or may suffer as a result of co-dependent relationships. nine0015

Currently, various social programs for overcoming addictions have been developed and are being developed. Some of them turned out to be so successful that they spread all over the world, became part of rehabilitation measures in psychotherapy and the lot of not only public and religious organizations, but also official medicine. One of them is the 12 step program.

Tell us more about the history of this program.

It all started with the creation of the community Alcoholics Anonymous (hereinafter AA), uniting those who decided to get rid of the common problem of alcoholism forever through joint efforts and the exchange of successful experience in such attempts. They accepted into such communities everyone who wanted to stop drinking, and without any restrictions, payment of entrance and membership fees. The goal of AA was to achieve and maintain a sober lifestyle, as well as the complete rejection of alcoholic beverages. nine0015

Why did I emphasize successful experiences? Because stories about failed attempts and complaints about life can negatively affect the healing process. The number of recoveries is significantly higher in groups where such behavior is prohibited. Information about successful attempts to fight alcoholism contributes to recovery, as it inspires hope and faith in the power of the human will. A person thinks something like this: “If he or she could, then why can't I? It means that not everything is lost and there is hope that I will cope.” nine0015

The first Washington Society was formed in 1840 and united alcoholics on the idea of ​​mutual aid. The end of the 19th - the beginning of the 20th century was the time when Christian organizations were involved in the problem of alcoholism. But in its present form, the history of the AA organization began in the thirties of the 20th century with the American Bill Wilson, who repeatedly ended up in the hospital due to alcohol addiction. He managed after the last hospitalization not to drink for six months. But the craving for alcohol remained so strong that Bill tried to turn his attention to helping other alcoholics. So he met Dr. Bob Smith, a fellow drunkard. The result of their acquaintance and conversations was the idea of ​​salvation by following the basic spiritual principles - faith in God, helping people, honesty, etc. 06/10/1935 AD Bob Smith drank his last bottle of beer and that day became the date of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. The basis of recovery in A.A. is the 12-Step program for alcoholics, described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, a collaborative effort among recovering addicts. The text of the program was developed at the end of 1938.
Since then, the program has been adapted and extended to other types of addictions - drug, food, sexual, gaming, informational, as well as workaholics and codependents. nine0015

In fact, the 12 Step Program for Addicts is being developed in response to current societal issues affecting all types of addictions. At the same time, their features are taken into account, but the main spiritual values ​​on the basis of which the program works do not change.

What are the main 12 steps for codependents and how to get rid of codependency with their help?

Before talking about the specific 12 steps of the program, I want to focus on the following basic principles:
• Lack of a hierarchical system of relations - all participants have equal rights and a voice.
• Openness in words and opinions.
• Readiness for action, exit from social isolation.
• Mutual help, psychological support and raising the spirit in the group.
• Development of the capacity for introspection.
• Unlocking pent-up emotions and feelings.
• Stress relief and withdrawal from depression.
• Participation is free.

Separately, I want to emphasize that the groups of co-dependents function on a secular basis. The use of rituals, the use of religious cults and fanaticism is unacceptable.

So, the 12-step program for co-dependents includes the following steps:
• The first step is, paradoxically, to admit one's powerlessness to influence a person with addiction, since this is, first of all, a disease that is almost impossible to control and contain for loved ones. After all, we cannot get into the “skin” of an addict, change his perception of the surrounding reality, influence his thoughts and actions. Attempts of total control can only aggravate the situation. Therefore, letting go of a person, realizing your powerlessness and entrusting him to higher (in your understanding) forces is the first step on the difficult path of transition from destructive relationships to healthy ones. You should not take this as a betrayal, you simply admit your defeat in the struggle and lay down your weapons even before you yourself become a person with a destroyed psyche. And in this state, you simply will not be able to help those loved ones who were able to provide support and pay attention - children, parents, friends. nine0015

• The second step is to recognize that your "mentee" has their own inner world, wants and needs. Indeed, in addition to purely biological needs (eat, drink, sleep, etc.), he has a need for deeper and more complex relationships - recognition, love, respect, significance in this world. Therefore, you should not mix your and his feelings, try to control them, impose your opinion. Respect and take care of the personal position of a person, do not try to change his inner world with your pressure, respect him and your boundaries. From this point on, the program moves to the next step. nine0015

• The third step is to learn to respect and value yourself. After all, the main problem of codependents is that they neglect their own feelings, interests, desires and needs. The desire to please everyone, the fear of offending, hurting the conceit of others, not only give rise to disrespect for others, but co-dependents themselves cease to respect themselves. But ask the question, how can a person who does not respect his “I” and does not take care of himself help an addict? No way - he does not have enough mental energy and health to do this. Because low self-esteem is a direct path to depression and the extinction of the psyche. There is only one way out - to stop pleasing and start taking care of yourself, so previously “unloved” and “not worthy” of a better fate, except for taking care of an alcoholic or drug addict. In the classes of codependents, a person learns to say: “No”, to defend their interests and the right to privacy and freedom. You may have to say to a loved one: “Despite the fact that I love you, I have my own life and I must take care of myself”, “I will no longer solve your problems, you are an adult - learn to be responsible for yourself on your own." I am sure that the dependent person will not like it, but you will begin to respect yourself and others around you will begin to respect you. Otherwise, lack of will will lead to depression and various psychosomatic diseases, which will turn your life into continuous suffering. It may be worth it for the sake of your own future to show firmness of character and remember that you are also a person who must develop, and not get hung up on the Other. nine0015

• The fourth step is to change your behavior to a more calm and balanced one. Of course, it is difficult to do this when a loved one literally kills himself with alcohol or drugs, loses his personality due to gambling or other addiction. But it is simply necessary to stop tantrums, screams and resentment. Otherwise, you simply will not be able to think and act rationally, which obviously will not help you in the fight against the addiction of a loved one. We must pull ourselves together and act within the framework of tough love. What does it mean? Do not follow the lead of the addict - do not give money, do not please, do not cover, do not repay debts, i.e. don't indulge addiction. To establish a constructive dialogue not with addiction, but with the person himself, to break through to his suppressed addiction "I" with his balanced and calm attitude. In fact, you will do everything in your power to help the person, but nothing more. If attempts prove fruitless, have the courage to put an end to the relationship. Of course, parents have the hardest time, they cannot just step aside and leave their child to his fate. But no one forbids them to turn to specialists for help, no one prevents them from assisting in rehabilitation after treatment and following the recommendations of psychotherapists. More drastic measures may be required - be prepared to take them. nine0015

• The fifth step is to ask your loved one to participate in solving your problems. The approach: "Let him do nothing, just do not drink or inject" does not justify itself. Inactivity, irresponsibility and laziness are the best soil for the progression of addiction. If you have to live with an addict under the same roof, then he must also fulfill his duties of maintaining a common life. Let them be minimal, but they should be. Most importantly, do not let yourself sit on your neck, do not pull the strap of household chores only on yourself and at the same time do not boast of your virtue. Otherwise, soon such self-sacrifice will begin to give pleasure and stimulate codependency. nine0015

• The sixth step is to give up the role of the pursuer. In the well-known phrase "execution cannot be pardoned," a comma must be placed after the words "execution cannot be." Quite accurately, the no less famous expression of a popular comedian, who, to the question: “What to do with you?”, fits this situation quite accurately. replies: "Understand and forgive." This is the whole point of overcoming codependent relationships. Not reproaches, not resentment for unjustified hopes and unfulfilled plans, but only true love can work wonders. Do not be afraid to forgive your loved one, be friendly, praise and encourage his attempts to escape from the captivity of addiction, support him with your smile and kind attitude. True forgiveness is your path to a true understanding of the problem and your next steps. nine0015

• Seventh step. Objectivity in assessing the situation and your capabilities, a real look at things happening to you and your loved ones will help determine the boundaries of acceptable behavior. If you can not influence the disease, then you can set limits on its manifestations. First of all, the family must be protected from night drinking and orgies, preparing a drug mixture at home, scattering syringes throughout the apartment, etc. Say your strong "No" to all this! and stop this madness at any cost, even if you have to turn to law enforcement for help. nine0015

• Eighth step. Recognition of one's right to make a mistake, its objective assessment and the desire to learn from one's failures for the sake of developing one's own personality. Think like this: “No one and nothing is perfect in this world, including me, but no one will forbid me to strive for self-improvement and become better. First of all, I look for the cause of the problem not in others, but in myself, but at the same time I will not wallow in self-flagellation and guilt, but I try to objectively evaluate my behavior, analyze miscalculations and draw conclusions for the future. To help your addict, you need to have a sober view of life and help at the very moment when the sufferer is especially inclined to break out of such "sweet" embraces of his addictions. nine0015

• Ninth step. Without refusing to help, the codependent must shift the responsibility for the dependent from himself directly to him. A loved one must be responsible for their own behavior. It is important to stop patronizing him and solve all his problems. It's time to stop encouraging addiction and indulgence. Let him set limits to his actions or be responsible for them. It is extremely difficult to do this, but it is possible and necessary, otherwise you will never budge and you will not get out of codependency. nine0015

• Tenth step. Make it a rule not to indulge the addict. If you do not, then his demands will grow like a snowball, and impudence will be unlimited. Possessing an exceptional ability to manipulate a loved one, completely getting rid of ordinary human attachments, the addict will twist ropes out of you. Say "pass" in this endless game and by doing so, take another step towards killing addiction.

• The eleventh step is to recognize that the only person you can be responsible for is yourself. If you are unable to change your partner, if he is steadfast in his unwillingness to get rid of addiction, then it may be time to separate and move away from his problems. Let him go, and you will notice a clear relief, you will begin to breathe deeply, and he will stop suffocating under your care. It has been noticed more than once that when a co-dependent person let go of his ward and began to live in his own interests, then the addict got rid of addiction. nine0015

• Twelfth step. At this stage, the co-dependent must feel his involvement in the community of Anonymous Co-Dependents, which is reflected in the desire to develop the personality of both his own and other participants in the program. Having gone through all these stages of getting rid of codependence, a person not only becomes more confident, ceases to be shy and ashamed of himself, he begins to feel not alone, feels his need and usefulness for others. Very often, former co-dependents do not leave the community, but stay in it, helping new members gain freedom from destructive relationships, telling them about their experiences and encouraging them in every possible way along the way. nine0015

What can be achieved with the 12 Step Program?

In addition to answering the question: codependency - how to get rid of it, with the help of the program you can solve a number of problems, namely:
              Make a person socially active, stop his self-isolation from society.

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