Codependency — or, as it used to be called, co-addiction or co-alcoholism — is one of the more difficult concepts to grasp in the area of addiction and recovery. The reason for that is simple, really, because codependency is just normal behavior taken to extremes.
I like to speak of it in terms of addiction because it is, in a very real sense. There are two concepts that we need to understand when thinking about it in those terms, best expressed by two well-known recovery sayings:
- Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results; and
- Addiction is when something causes problems and you continue to repeat the behavior and, thus, the problems.
Both of the above, of course, are contingent upon the idea that there are alternate courses of action. In practically all cases, such different avenues exist; we are simply not conditioned to look for them — in fact, often precisely the reverse. This is sometimes due to lack of information, but more often because of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” skewed by long experience dealing with situations that defy logic. That’s why sayings like these are valuable. They give us a quick, easy reality check once we learn how to use them. The trick is in giving ourselves permission to think outside the codependent box.