How to get out of codependent relationships? Step-by-step action plan

How to get out of codependent relationships? Step-by-step action plan

The term “codependency” is often mentioned in the texts of scientific and popular publications. This is increasingly discussed in the professional community of psychotherapists, and this shadow a painful subject finally begins to leave the space of cabinets and available for people interested in their psychological well-being. In this article we will try to understand what is codependency, what it is dangerous and, most importantly, how to help those who have been involved in this issue and wants to get out of codependent relationships. This will help us a few stories from life.

Story No. 1

23 years of marriage – is a significant term in the case of Camila is exactly half her life. Most likely, such a family has developed its own sustainable system of role-playing interaction. And in this context it is impossible not to recall the well-known model of co-dependent relationships proposed by Stephen Karpman, which involves three main roles: Victim – Persecutor – Rescuer. The role is extremely agile, and one flows into the other and creates long-term pathological scenario of family interactions1.

According to the International classification of diseases (ICD 10), alcoholism officially recognized as a disease2.

This trend usually progresses. Toxic damage to the cerebral cortex under the influence of alcohol aggravate the disease pattern.

Long-term stay next to the active dependent causing serious damage to both mental and physical health of those people who are involved in such relationships. Life with an alcoholic – chronic stress, insecurity, life in constant anxiety. Most people who find themselves in a situation of cohabitation with the chemically dependent person, I believe that the problem is only in use, but they are completely healthy. However, it is impossible to live in a pathogenic environment and not be exposed to its influence.

Constant companion chemical dependency is the phenomenon of codependency. The term codependency has many definitions and interpretations. Here is the one that seems most versatile. It belongs to Marilyn Murray is an American psychotherapist, author of the method of assistance to persons with psychological trauma.

So, codependency consists of three parameters:

  • to do for another what he can and should do for himself;
  • do what supports his dysfunctional;
  • to do for the other person something to the detriment of their health and well-being3.

And here is one of the most important criteria is the obsession with the object of his affection and the shift of focus from my life to the life of the dependent person and control his behavior.

In addition to the program “12 steps” for alcoholics, there is such program of recovery from codependency. And this is a great opportunity to get a totally free help in solving your problem. However, the situation of our heroine can play a cruel joke habit to save her husband from troubles, ignoring yourself.

So the first thing you need to take in a situation of Kamila, is to ask yourself the question: “How can I under the circumstances to protect ourselves from the psychological damage my life with a dependent person? What kind of help do I need?”

Story number 2

Of all forms of chemical dependency narcotic, as a rule, most acute and obvious dynamics. Under the influence of drugs life drug is rapidly destroyed, and in most cases neither he nor his family is not able to stop this process. And most attempts to independently control only aggravate the situation.

The situation is compounded by the fact that most chemically dependent people do not recognize the danger of problems and are not motivated for treatment and assistance. Therefore, the urban self-help groups may not be enough. Need help of qualified professionals.

In such cases, their efficiency shows a long-term inpatient care, combining pharmacological and psychological components.

However, often this is not enough. Experts in the field of addictive care patients recognize the impact of family factors on the development and course of the disease. One of the concepts of family therapy suggests that addiction is a systemic family disease and affects all family members. However, the active carrier of symptoms is very dependent.

Thus, for effective care to the dependent person requires the inclusion of other family members in the healing process for complex correction of dysfunctional patterns that contribute to the further relapses.

Story No. 3

Gambling in its devastating impact on the lives addict and his family are not inferior to chemical forms of dependence. However, gambling has a significant difference – there is no use of toxic substances, pathogenic affects the brain, and hence the critical thinking of the player suffers less pronounced. In most cases do not require pharmacological treatment.

To help the gamblers there are also specialized support groups, as well as specialists, psychologists and psychotherapists. And there are groups for family members of gamers.

This form of dependence is also much better is correctable, if the process included the family of the compulsive gambler. Often in therapy, such families can be detected a kind of pattern – the fear of close relations and the substitution of emotional interaction financial. That is money are the equivalent of love, affection, power, control, manipulation and so on.

Frequent recourse to the psychologist with the request “to withdraw from co-dependent relationships” suggests that dysfunctional relationships are recognized as themselves and not their members. This is certainly true, however, the yield of co-dependent relationships is not the way out of codependency as such. Often it is only a change of agent dependent behavior, like the addict – the change of form of the drug. The problem is localized deeper and is not solved by the mere break of contact with the other person.

Codependent people genuinely and selflessly trying to help the dependent person, while their own needs are sidelined or altogether ignored. Besides the obvious socially acceptable pattern of a man who devoted himself to the service for the benefit of others, in the case of codependency lurks so-called secondary benefits – caring for another person creates the conditions in which it is impossible to deal with their own problems and start solving them.

The experience of psychological assistance to affected people shows that the protective mechanisms of the psyche that support dysfunctional patterns of codependency, in most cases much more stable than they themselves are dependent.

3 important step of codependency

Psychological assistance to affected customers can be divided into several stages:

  1. The rejection of illusions – working with dysfunctional beliefs and protection mechanisms. Among them are common such as: “He promised to stop drinking”, “In bad company”, “I Have everything in order need help my son” and so forth.
  2. The recognition of powerlessness and giving up control – awareness of their inability to control another person’s life and return him to responsibility for it.
  3. A gradual return to self – move the focus of their attention on their own lives, regain responsibility for their lives (out of the triad “Rescuer – Victim – Persecutor”).



  1. Klysis Bulletin. 1968. 7(26). 39-43.
  2. The Internlth Problems. 10th revision (ICD-10), 2016.
  3. Murray M. The Murray Method. SPb. : Sandal, 2012.
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