A compilation of Public Domain
Publications about CODEPENCE.
Dr. Irene Matiatos Ph.D.
Daniel Ploskin, MD
Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.
By Dr. Irene Matiatos Ph.D.
Some of the nicest people I know are codependent.
They always smile, never refuse to do a favor. They are happy and
bubbly all the time. They understand others and have the ability to make
people feel good. People like them!
So, what is wrong with this?
Nothing, really, unless the giving is
one-sided and so excessive that it
hurts the giver. Then, the giver is
showing the signs of codependence.
Partners who go out of their way
for each other are interdependent.
Only relatively healthy people are
capable of interdependent
relationships, which involve give and
take. It is not unhealthy to
unilaterally give during a time when
your partner is having difficulty. You
know your partner will reciprocate
should the tables turn.
Interdependency also implies that you
do not have to give until it hurts. By
comparison, in a codependent
relationship, one partner does almost
all the giving, while the other does
almost all the taking, almost all of the
By giving, codependent people avoid the discomfort of entitlement.
Giving allows them to feel useful and justifies their existence. Rather than simply
approving of themselves, codependent people meet their need for self-esteem,
by winning their partner's approval. Also, because they lack self-esteem,
codependent people have great difficulty accepting from others. One must feel
deserving and entitled in order to accept what is offered.
Codependent behavior is not easy. It requires a lot of work.
It hurts. These individuals typically suffer with low self-esteem, depression,
anxiety, and especially guilt, as well as other painful thoughts and feelings. They
judge themselves using far stricter criteria than they use to measure the
performance of others. While they are brutally critical of their own misbehavior,
they are very good at justifying and excusing the misbehavior of others.
Codependent people misplace their anger.
They get angry when they shouldn't, and
don't get angry when they should. They have
little contact with their inner world and thus
very little idea about how they feel. Usually,
they don't want to know because it gives rise
to painful emotions. It is easier to stay on
the surface and pretend things are peachy
keen, rather than deal with the stuff going on
If they were to look inside, they would
find their emotional starvation.
They are busy taking care of others. Yet,
they do not meet their own needs!
They may put up with abusive relationships
or relationships that are not fulfilling because
any warm body beats (gasp) no warm body.
Being alone is perceived as scary, empty,
depressing, etc. After all, who will deliver
supplies? Who will distract them so there is no time to deal with their inner life?
Even an abusive relationship is better than no relationship.
These loving, giving people find interesting ways of explaining their
behavior to themselves.
Loyal to a fault, a codependent individual is likely to rationalize a loved one's
disrespectful behavior by making excuses for them. quot;He doesn't mean it.quot; quot;It
was not done with malice.quot; quot;It is the best he can do.quot; quot;She had such an awful
childhood.quot; Etc., etc., etc.
The central concept is that the codependent individual quot;takes itquot; and
understands,quot; despite feeling hurt.
Waiting for brownie points in heaven, or for a loved one to be magically healed
through their persistent love and care taking, they accept disrespect from others.
It does not occur to the codependent person that it is not OK to quot;take itquot; and
quot;put upquot; no matter what!
Much of this abuse acceptance occurs without the codependent
individual feeling abused!
More accurately, these individuals do not feel OK enough to expect respectful
treatment at all times, and to notice when it is not forthcoming. Having grown up
in a home where a parent or sibling demanded inordinate attention (due to
addiction, illness, anger, or other problem), the codependent person is trained to
care for others. Having grown up in a difficult environment, a negative emotional
climate is experienced as normal and familiar.
This is why there is often little recognition of disrespect. If their partner is angry
or upset, the codependent individual will implicitly assume that they did
something to cause the anger. It does not occur to them that it is their partner's
responsibility to deal with their problem and to treat others respectfully. It does
not occur to them that it is their responsibility to themselves to stop another
person's demeaning behavior toward them. But, how can stop disrespect when
misbehavior is not perceived as disrespectful or abusive? Disrespect is normal.
An unfortunate side effect of the codependent person's willingness to
ignore, excuse, or otherwise allow the partner's abuse or disrespect,
enables the misbehavior directed at them to continue and intensify.
Implicit or explicit permission to continue misbehaving
is granted since the codependent partner
Because codependent individuals are approval-driven,
they cannot stand it when others are angry at or
disappointed with them.
As such, they unwittingly place themselves in a
position to be taken advantage of. The more approval
is needed, the less likely is the individual to realize the
extent of their self-sacrifice in favor of tending to the
needs of the other. This hurts (quot;Ouchhh!quot;), and
creates or maintains depression and low self-esteem,
in a vicious, downward spiral.
While abuse, disrespect, or unrequited sacrifice angers them, as it
should, codependent people do not realize how angry they are and at
whom they are angry!
Targeting the appropriate person may jeopardize a source of approval and self-
esteem. To avoid facing reality, they distort it.
Codependent individuals are likely to somehow blame themselves and rationalize
their quot;over-sensitivity.quot; They justify the other person's behavior by thinking they
must deserve the treatment they are getting. This is preferable to facing the
possibility that an individual who provides a measure of their self-esteem is
quot;Anger...is a signal that something is wrong and needs attentionquot;.
Anger is healthy. It is a signal that something is wrong and needs attention.
However, if the source of anger is not articulated, how can it be fixed?
Codependent people are expert at denying anger and turning it against the self -
into sadness and depression. Instead of asking themselves why are they are
putting up with... (fill in the blank), they ask themselves how they could have
behaved differently - to obtain a more favorable reaction from their partner!
Unarticulated anger is often misdirected and expressed inappropriately.
Anger may be experienced as resentment, expressed as an aggressive blow-up,
or in passive-aggressive acting out. The cognitive and verbal skills to
appropriately assert oneself are lacking.
Since codependent people are experts at controlling other people's
thoughts, feelings, and behavior, they feel hurt that others don't
reciprocate and quot;knowquot; what they need.
quot;If they really loved me, they would know.quot; Not so! Since codependents do not
have the self-esteem to ask for what they secretly want, they are unlikely to get
it. If they do make a request, it is often a roundabout hint. If their partner
cannot decipher the request, they feel hurt and unloved. They believe they
conveyed their desires, when, in fact, they have not!
Because most codependent individuals are control-oriented, they are
They are great employees. Tasks are done thoroughly and on time. Even parts of
the job that are not theirs get picked up if coworkers are neglectful or slow. They
try to control outcomes, whether those outcomes are completed job tasks or
reactions from other people. Anything for approval.
However, some codependent individuals are very irresponsible, in select
or diverse life areas.
They don't know how to or don't feel the need to take care of some of their own
basic needs, especially if there is another person to care for instead. Why spend
the time trying to figure out what the self needs, when
the self doesn't really matter anyway? It is far more preferable to be out
avoiding one's own issues: out having fun, hunting for a partner, or self-
Codependent people are addiction prone.
They may drink too much, shop too
much, eat too much, etc. Dulling the
senses is a great way to avoid
knowing yourself and dealing with
Intimacy is avoided.
Intimate behavior requires familiarity
and comfort with one's internal world.
Since the codependent person regards
ordinary human needs as shameful,
embarrassing, dangerous, or
otherwise uncomfortable, meeting
basic needs are often dismissed.
Any relationship that ignores the self is superficial.
Unfortunately, superficial relationships are safe...but empty and unfulfilling.
Control is central to the quot;MOquot; of the codependent person.
They control their self-esteem by catering to others' needs.
They control by their over-responsible performance, picking up where others
They control by avoiding intimacy or by clouding the mind.
They control by advising others on what to do.
These individuals work very hard to control everything and everybody.
Yet, they neglect the one person they do have control over: themselves.
Why Be Codependent?
Why would anybody spend time and energy to control outcomes, while
actively neglecting the inner self? How can they do this and not realize
they are selling themselves short?
The Why: they know no other way;
The How: they received very good training early in life.
Any dysfunction in the family predisposes a child to codependent
Children are biologically programmed
to seek love and approval. They have
to be cared for or they will die.
When a parent or family member is
dysfunctional, the child tends to focus
on this person--rather than on
enjoying a carefree and joyful kid
existence. The child has to worry: if
the caretaker does not care take, the
child dies. For example, in an
alcoholic home, little Sally has to
worry about whether she can bring
friends home - because daddy may be
in a bad mood and embarrass her.
Such events are training her in
codependent thinking, the art of
anticipating the other person.
If mom is physically ill, Teddy has to worry about exerting her. Who would care
for him if anything happened to her? If daddy is angry and controlling, Timmy
needs to worry about pleasing him to avoid punishment and humiliation - and to
get his conditional love and approval.
Children are naturally egocentric.
That means that they see the world
revolving around them. If mom and
dad fight, children feel that it is
somehow their fault. Julie may try to
make her parents happy by getting
straight As in school in an attempt to
keep the parental marriage together.
Another child may have an abusive,
or simply overactive older sibling.
Since the parents cannot be there at
all times to police the situation, the
younger sibling may learn to
anticipate the sib's moods and to
behave in ways that might increase
the probability of quot;safety.quot; Or,
perhaps daddy is depressed. Jennifer
may tiptoe around him wondering if he is unhappy because she is not good
enough. And so on.
In sum, codependent thinking tends to develop any time a child is
growing up in a home where life is not care free.
Often, addiction can be traced in the family tree of these dysfunctional families,
whether there is an active addict in residence, or not. Nevertheless, these kids
have an adult they have to worry about!
The codependent-in-training is taught to walk on eggshells.
To ensure survival, the child learns to be extraordinarily sensitive in reading the
moods and thoughts of others. The child learns very early to pay attention to and
tiptoe around the dysfunctional family members - at the child's expense. These
interactions take place silently, implicitly. The child learns to ignore the self's
inner needs, instead pretending that all is OK.
When I tell my clients that codependent adults were once children who
had an adult to worry about, some sharply disagree.
They tell me about the loving families they came from and insist that their family
members were quot;wonderful,quot; etc. As denial melts and self-awareness develops,
they begin to recognize the failings in a caregiver that spawned their
selflessness. Sometimes, both parents were codependent, modeling no other
behaviors for the child to learn.
Help! Can I Fix it?
Good news! You certainly can! You can get control over your life!
You can stop trying to control the lives of others and take charge of
While children are truly not
responsible for their actions, adults
To experience a more satisfying life, it
becomes incumbent upon the adult to
take control of the unavoidable childhood
or present-day scars they experienced.
Parents don't set out to hurt their
children; neither do abusive partners! We
get hurt and we in turn hurt others
because we are imperfect. We may never
achieve perfection, but we can improve.
It is important to remember that we are
in part a product of our environment.
If we mis-behave, we have learned to do
so. The good news is that what was
learned can be unlearned or modified.
The best news is that, in my experience,
codependency issues are in most cases not particularly difficult
problems to deal with.
I find a blend of cognitive behavior therapy with an emphasis on cognitive and
verbal skills training combined with a 12-Step approach very effective. Many self-
help resources are available from books to support groups, as well as
quot;Codependencequot; is cocktail party talk. Walk into your local book store's self-help
or psychology section and look around. Melodie Beattie and Pia Mellody are two
of my favorite authors in the field. Also, check out some of Albert Ellis'
cognitive-behavioral work that helps in stamping out irrational codependent
Self-help groups such as ALANON and CODA are 12-Step programs that have
their own formula help change codependent behavior.
So, go to therapy. Read, get to a meeting. Get yourself evaluated for medication
if you are depressed. Do whatever you need to do. As an adult, you have
options. You can take control of your life! You are the only one who can take
control of your life.
by Daniel Ploskin, MD - August 21, 2007 – A.O.
What Is Codependence?
While not recognized as a diagnosable illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (a professional reference used
to make diagnoses), codependence generally refers to the way past events from
childhood “unknowingly affect some of our attitudes, behaviors and feelings in the
present, often with destructive consequences,” according to the National Council on
Codependence. Certain signs can help us identify a tendency toward codependence.
Self-worth comes from external sources
Codependent people need external sources, things or
other people to give them feelings of self-worth.
Often, following destructive parental relationships, an
abusive past and/or self-destructive partners,
codependents learn to react to others, worry about
others and depend on others to help them feel useful
or alive. They put other people’s needs, wants and
experiences above their own.
In fact, codependence is a relationship with one’s self
that is so painful a person no longer trusts his or her
own experiences. It perpetuates a continual cycle of
shame, blame and self-abuse. Codependent people
might feel brutally abused by the mildest criticism or
suicidal when a relationship ends. In his 1999 book,
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, author
Robert Burney says the battle cry of codependence is:
“I’ll show you! I’ll get me!”
Examples of codependency
Health professionals first identified codependence in the wives of alcoholic men. Through
family treatment, they discovered that spouses and family members were codependent,
or also had addictive tendencies. Co-addiction occurs when more than one person,
usually a couple, has a relationship that is responsible for maintaining addictive behavior
in at least one of the persons.
For example, co-addicted people might believe that, at some level, getting a partner or
family member to become sober or drug-free might seem like the one goal which, if
achieved, would bring them happiness. But on another level, they might realize they are
behaving in a way that enables the addict with whom they live to maintain their
For instance, they might never confront the addict about her behavior. Or they might
become her caretaker, spending limitless time worrying about her. They might assume
it’s their responsibility to clean up after and apologize for their loved one’s behavior. They
might even help her continue to use alcohol or drugs by giving her money, food or even
drugs and alcohol, for fear of what would happen to her if they did things differently.
Many codependents come to believe they are so unlovable and unworthy that to stay in a
dysfunctional, destructive relationship is the best and safest way to live.
Codependent people who believe they can’t
survive without their partners do anything they
can to stay in their relationships, however
painful. The fear of losing their partners and
being abandoned overpowers any other feelings
they might have. The thought of trying to
address any of their partner’s dysfunctional
behaviors makes them feel unsafe. Excusing or
denying a problem like addiction means they
avoid rejection by their partners.
Instead, as in the example above, co-addicted
people often will try to adapt themselves and
their lives to their partners’ dysfunction. They
might have abandoned hope that something
better is possible, instead settling for the job of
maintaining the status quo. The thought of
change might cause them great pain and
Codependence works the same way, whether
the addiction is drugs, alcohol or something
else, such as sex, gambling, verbal or physical
abuse, work or a hobby. If the addicts’ behavior causes worry, forcing the partners to
adjust to and deny the problem, they are at great risk of becoming codependent. Those
who were abused as children face an even greater risk.
Checklist for family members of
people with Mental Health Disorders
by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.
I wanted to touch on codependency. It seems like an old subject yet people are hurt by
this quot;conditionquot; so often and so many of us have these issues and are not aware.
Why do I bring this up in a mental health website? Most person with a mental health
disorder has a family member. If you are the family member, check yourself out for
these behaviors quickly and if you can't relate then move on.
Just because those of us who have mental health disorders may not be a family member
of someone with a mental health disorder, doesn't mean we don't have a problem with
codependency and it is very difficult to work on recovery when our focus is always on
someone else. In fact, downright impossible.
So many family members are focusing completely on the person who has the mental
health disorder that they are not in touch with their own needs at all. This is not only
unhealthy for the family member but for the person with the disorder as well.
You must learn to get your life back and as the author Melodie Beattie says quot;lovingly
detaching.quot; You are not on this earth to take care of your partner or your daughter or
your cousin, etc. Let me repeat that. You are not on this earth to take care of your
partner or your daughter or your cousin, etc.
That may be a part of your life and a very important part of your life. But that is not the
only reason you are on this earth and that is not the only thing that defines you. You
must find out who you are and become that person once again. You must be that person
you were before you knew quot;that personquot; and have that person in your life as well.
What does it feel like if you have been around someone strongly
I felt violated. My boundaries were crossed. I felt extremely angry and upset. I felt
manipulated and power was taken away from me that belonged to me.
I had always heard that 50% of chemically dependent people are codependent. My
husband who attends AA says the joke there is that it is 100%. So I do not know what
the exact figures are.
Let's review some basic codependency behaviors.
What do Codependents try to do? Control others or situations.
Do they really think they can control others? Yes.
Can anyone ever control others? No
Do they cross our boundaries? Yes
Do they mind their own business? No
Do they manipulate? Yes
Do they know what is best for you? Yes
What do they say when we get angry with them for crossing our boundaries?
I was only trying to help.
What are some reasons they do this?
To avoid their own issues. To get their mind off of themselves.
What does Al-Anon and CoDa tell them to do?
Butt out! Mind their own business. Get the focus off of them and back on their selves.
What do codependents do when they can't control you? Get angry.
Characteristics of Codependency
1. My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you
2. My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you
3. Your struggle affects my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your
problems/relieving your pain
4. My mental attention is focused on you
5. My mental attention is focused on protecting you
6. My mental attention is focused on manipulating you to do it my way
7. My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems
8. My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain
9. My own hobbies/interests are put to one side. My time is spent sharing your
10. Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires and I feel you are
a reflection of me
11. Your behavior is dictated by my desires and I feel you are a reflection of me
12. I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
13. I am not aware of what I want - I ask what you want. I am not aware - I assume
14. The dreams I have for my future are linked to you
15. My fear of rejection determines what I say or do
16. My fear of your anger determines what I say or do
17. I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship
18. My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you
19. I put my values aside in order to connect with you
20. I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own
21. The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours
Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More developed this check list:
Website Links for Codependents: http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/coda/
Are You Codependent?
By Royane Real - Published: 5/6/2006
Do you feel like you give and give in your relationships but you get very little back? Are you always
trying to save somebody or rescue somebody that doesn’t have their life together? You may be co-
dependent. Take this quiz and find out.
In a relationship between two emotionally
healthy adults, the roles of giving and
receiving help are balanced. Both people offer
help and receive help from each other in
approximately equal amounts.
However, there are some people who always
take on the role of being the helper, no matter
what relationship they are in. These people
give, and give, and they always seem to get
involved with people who have very serious
emotional problems, such as addiction. And
they exhaust themselves trying desperately to
save the other person, even at tremendous
cost to their own health.
These people have friendships that focus
exclusively on trying to solve the problems of
their friends. We sometimes call this quality
quot;co-dependencyquot;, and we may label people
who are obsessed with helping others quot;co-
A person who is co-dependent will tend to have relationships with people who have a lot
of problems – emotional, social, familial and financial. The co-dependent person may
spend much of their own time, money, and energy helping other people who have
problems, while ignoring the problems in their own life.
Why would somebody be co-dependent?
A person who is co-dependent often suffers from a deep sense of worthlessness and
anxiety, and tries to derive a sense of self-worth by helping or rescuing others. A person
who is co-dependent may not know how to relax and feel comfortable in a friendship
where both people are equals and the relationship is based on enjoying each other’s
Co-dependent people may even feel anxious if someone they have been helping gets
their life in order and no longer wants their help. The co-dependent person may
immediately look around for someone else they can quot;savequot;.
If you frequently take on the role of helping the people who are your friends, how can
you tell if you are acting out of genuine kindness and concern, or whether your behavior
is in fact co-dependency?
When is it healthy to put the needs of other people first, and when is it unhealthy?
There aren’t really any hard and fast lines between the two.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see whether your
quot;helpingquot; behavior may actually be co-dependency:
- Do you have a hard time saying no to others, even when you are very busy, financially
broke, or completely exhausted?
- Are you always sacrificing your own needs for everyone else?
- Do you feel more worthy as a human being because you have taken on a helping role?
- If you stopped helping your friends, would you feel guilty or worthless?
- Would you know how to be in a friendship that doesn’t revolve around you being the
- If your friends eventually didn’t need your help, would you still be friends with them?
Or would you look around for someone else to help?
- Do you feel resentful when others are not grateful enough to you for your efforts at
rescuing them or fixing their lives?
- Do you sometimes feel like more of a social worker than a friend in your relationships?
- Do you feel uncomfortable receiving help from other people? Is the role of helping
others a much more natural role for you to play in your relationships?
- Does it seem as if many of your friends have particularly chaotic lives, with one crisis
- Did you grow up in a family that had a lot of emotional chaos or addiction problems?
- Are many of your friends addicts, or do they have serious emotional and social
- As you were growing up, did you think it was up to you to keep the family functioning?
- As an adult, is it important for you to be thought of as the quot;dependable onequot;?
- Do you feel responsible for other people--their feelings, thoughts, actions, choices,
wants, needs, well-being and destiny?
- Do you feel compelled to help people solve their problems or by trying to take care of
- Do you find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others than
about injustices done to you?
- Do you feel safest and most comfortable when you are giving to others?
- Do you feel insecure and guilty when someone gives to you?
- Do you feel empty, bored and worthless if you don't have someone else to take care of,
a problem to solve, or a crisis to deal with?
- Are you often unable to stop talking, thinking and worrying about other people and
- Do you lose interest in your own life when you are in love?
- Do you stay in relationships that don't work and tolerate abuse in order to keep people
- Do you leave bad relationships only to form new ones that don't work, either?
If you answered quot;yesquot; to a lot of these questions, you may indeed have a problem with
This does not mean that you are a flawed person. It means that you are spending a lot of
energy on other people and very little on yourself.
If it seems that a lot of your friendships are based on co-dependent rescuing behaviors,
rather than on mutual liking and respect between equals, you may wish to step back and
rethink your role in relationships.
If you suspect that your helping behavior is a form of co-dependency, a good therapist or
counselor can help you gain perspective on your actions and learn a more balanced way
of relating to others.
What does a healthy friendship look like
compared to a codependent friendship?
I'm just at the beginning stages of discovering what that's like. From what I know so far I
can say that you should not have such high expectations of your friends. You should
value the differences you see in them.
Also, you should not depend on
them. You can depend on them to
a certain extent, but with a
healthy relationship it's not life or
death if you are not with them.
Obviously love is a part of a
friendship, but now I'm learning
to love others by faith
unconditionally. We all fail but you
have to leave room for failure in a
we're all human so
disappointment and mistakes are
bound to happen.
I've also discovered
that relationships are not all
about me. It's about how loving
and serving the other person. Also a good friendship is really about how we can build
each other up.
I have learned a lot about forgiveness too. I had to forgive people in my past for what
they did to me. Now I have to forgive myself for what I did to Anna.
Holding onto my past hurts facilitated a lot of my actions. I know that a healthy
friendship brings freedom. I'm so much more relaxed now. I have lots of friends but I
don’t feel as if I really need any friends or one best friend.
How can someone recognize this pattern in their own life?
I think there always has to be a more
dominant person in a codependent
relationship. You could be the dominant one. I
was the dominant one. The dominant one
takes the initiative. The dominant one has all
the expectations of the other person and can
feel like the other person doesn't measure up.
Often as the dominant one I felt sad or lonely.
When I hung out with other people I would
think of her. My heart would not be fully
engaged with other friends. People considered
us to be so close so the thought of even
breaking away from each other was
horrifying. I invested a lot in her. I shared
my emotions with her. I never got close to
anyone as I did with her.
That's another pattern of codependency - only
letting that one person get close and not letting others get close to you.
Even if someone were to show me, I still didn't see at all how I was codependent on
Anna. It is very much a process of discovering on my own the kind of lifestyle I was
I am a stubborn person too. I didn't quite want to give her friendship up, as unhealthy as
it was. I knew I had a problem, but I didn't want to break from this friendship
because I was scared of the unknown.
All I knew was what I was comfortable with and I didn't want to separate myself from
that comfort. I wanted to change my life but it took months and months before I could
take the necessary steps, which made me realize just how unhealthy my relationship had
What are some key questions that would help someone realize if they are in a
• How much time am I spending with this friend? That determines a lot right there.
• Am I neglecting other friends?
• Do I think this relationship is healthy? What do others in my life who care about
me think about this relationship?
• Are there questions about the past that I need to answer for myself?
• Have I forgiven people in my past that have hurt me, and moved on?
What addictive behaviour were you struggling with?
A codependent friendship.
How did it start?
Six years ago I met a person I thought would be my best friend for life. I was going
through a huge transition in my life coming home from college and having to start over in
building friendships. Although I graduated, all my friends were still in college and my old
friends from high school had all changed. It was hard for me to identify and connect
again with my old friends.
I connected with a few of my old friends
from high school, and through one of
them I met Anna.
At the beginning of our friendship Anna
and I connected really well and we had a
lot of fun. We spent a lot of time
together right from the
beginning. She too had just come home
from college and didn't know anyone.
We started hanging out 2-3 times a
week, but I started calling her more and
By the second year of our friendship we
hung out every night and were
communicating thoroughly every day.
We became inseparable to the point that people thought we were sisters. Neither of
us had been in an unhealthy friendship before and because we shared a deeper
dimension of life in our friendship (faith and spirituality), we never thought our
attachment to each other was unhealthy.
But, over time, I started becoming more manipulative over her and placed higher
and higher expectations on her. I figured that if she knew me best she should know how
to treat me perfectly.
She was the one that I thought had to give me what I needed and I would get upset if I
didn't get it. I demanded a lot from her and she complied most of the time with
what I needed.
What kinds of needs did you want her to meet?
I was really looking for Anna to meet my emotional needs. I wouldn't go to God first at
all. I thought about praying but the first person I thought of was Anna.
Ultimately, I thought Anna could help me and pray with me. We were there for each
other spiritually, but only in a selfish way.
Why did you feel quot;addictedquot; to this relationship?
Because I felt I needed. It seemed to be a safe place to go for refuge. To me, she
seemed like a safe haven.
I tried to find my satisfaction and fulfillment in Anna. But, she could hardly meet a tenth
of what I expected or thought I needed from her.
When did you start to see a problem with your relationship?
Anna's relatives and close friends would say that we hung out too much. But both of us
were too entrenched in our friendship to think anything was really wrong. We were both
needy and we both fulfilled needs in each other. But, at the same time, we weren't
satisfied because there was a void there that we could feel and sense, especially
spiritually. We knew that only God could fill that void and fulfill our needs, but we went
to each other instead of to God.
We began to realize that we were becoming too dependent on each other. At first there
was no way I'd drop her friendship, because she still meant the world to me. But after
spending more time with God and reading bookson friendship and codependence, we
were both seeing just how unhealthy the relationship had become.
Describe what your relationship looked like in its most dependent
Often Anna would get angry
easily because I was
manipulative and possessive.
I was outgoing and dominant,
and she, being opposite, was a
good follower. Our difference
in personality made it easy for
our friendship to get out of
Throughout this time I was
blinded to my other friends. I
didn't see how my other
friends were really important
to me. I also neglected to
value my own family. I cared
more about Anna coming over
on a family day more than I
cared about seeing my family.
I wanted to be with her all
the time. I would shower her with cards and gifts. She would do the same for me.
When I was hanging out with Anna I would try to control who she hung out with and
control how deep her friendship with others would get.
I would ask her what she was doing during the week and made sure she spent the most
time with me. I continually re-affirmed in my mind that I was number one in her
Throughout all of this, I didn't realize how manipulative I had become.
Looking back I can see how much of what I did had an ulterior motive. I wanted what
was best for her, but I was the one who determined that. I figured what was best for her
was to build our friendship.
I tended to see myself as a needed person in
her life. If I wasn't in her life I thought she
would be weakened and not grow to her
potential. It was selfish because I
thought I was everything to her.
But often, our friendship was disappointing.
When we spent time together, I would
expect it to look a certain way and would be
angry, sad, or disappointed when it didn't go
the way I expected.
I would analyze our time together and
question if our time together was quality or
deep enough. This wore me out and made
me anxious. It felt like the end of the
world when we couldn't hang out
together. Overall, my self esteem
How would you feel if she wanted
to leave you?
We constantly confirmed with each other that we would never be separated. Any time I
would panic she would always affirm that quot;I'll always be your friend, I'll always be there
But, you can't make promises like that to a friend because you don't know where you'll
be or how you'll change. We made these promises to each other to give each other a
sense of stability.
What steps did you have to take to get back out of this
Through mentorship, reading the Bible and reading books I learned that our friendship
About 5 months ago she took an important step and asked to take time away from our
Since then, we haven't communicated or talked. God has done so much in both our lives
in the last 5 months. It was the best thing we've ever done.
For me, it is a daily decision to look to God instead looking to others. I've given Anna to
God every single day since our separation. Each day I have to decide that God is the Lord
of my life, not Anna. I made the mistake of considering Anna to be God to me.
It has been a grieving process as well. God's been showing me more and more
what a real friendship, what a God centered friendship, looks like. Now I love God
more than I ever did before.
Did you notice a pattern of control in your past relationships?
Yes, it started immediately after
high school. High school was a
crucial time in my life and I never
felt accepted. I felt rejected
basically for who I was and felt
very alone. I tried really hard,
and was afraid I wouldn't have any
friends. I wanted to ensure that I
had friends so I was always trying
to be in control.
In college I became dependent on
friends. But, this dependency
didn't reach its peak until I met
Anna because at that point I really
wanted a best friend. Anna was so
compliant to go along with all my
suggestions and I was not allowing
God to direct my heart or mind.
There were so many things I
didn't believe about myself so
my mind was really left unaffected
by God. I didn't let him take over my thoughts and this affected my feelings. I loved
others but I loved wrongly. My love was misdirected.
After turning my life back over to God, my mind changed from one that was very selfish
and focused on me, to having God as the center of my thoughts.
Instead of caring mainly about what people think about me, now I think of what pleases
God and how He would want me to love. As I love myself and others the way God wants
me to love, I reflect His image and love.
Helping a Person Who Is Codependent
If someone in your life is codependent -a spouse, parent, child or friend- your support
may be an important part of recovery. Here are some ways you can help.
Begin a dialogue about childhood and
messages your spouses might have received
from his parents that could have caused
shame. You might want to share your own
experiences of shame and how they affected
you. If you are recovering from an addiction, it
might be useful to discuss how most spouses
are affected by their partner’s addiction and
what might be helpful to him (Al-Anon
Meetings, Codependence Anonymous
Meetings). Attending therapy with a spouse or
buying a book on codependence and reading it
together are other ways to begin to help.
You might want to get a friend to open up to you by sharing your own
insights with him. You can offer to go to a Codependents Anonymous
Meeting with him or buy him a book to read about codependence. You
also could offer him a place to stay (if he is living with an addict and
could benefit from time apart) or a referral to a mental health
professional. Sometimes making the first phone call for help can be the
first step toward empowering the person to get well.
Helping a child, unless it’s an adult child, might not be
appropriate since codependency as dysfunctional behavior is hard
to distinguish from normal dependency when a child is still young.
If you are the parent of an adult son or daughter who is now in a
codependent relationship, you could help by telling your child how
much you love her and that getting well is possible. Remind your
child of the strengths and positive qualities that sustained her
through other difficult times. Offer a place to stay or to go to a
12-Step meeting with her.
Helping a parent often is like helping adult children. Parents may resist taking advice
from their children. But if, together, you can go to a 12-step meeting, go to therapy or
read a book on codependence, you may begin to stir up a desire for recovery.
Helping a coworker might include sharing information over lunch or inviting her over for
coffee after work. If you are aware of a codependence problem with a coworker, chances
are she already has entrusted you with some intimate information. However, work might
not be the best place to discuss a topic as personal as codependence. Often, you can
help just by offering to listen outside work or to be an escort to a 12-step meeting.
Treatment Options for Codependence
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
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
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
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.
The Twelve Traditions
The Twelve Steps are accompanied by The Twelve Traditions of group
governance as developed by
Alcoholics Anonymous through its
early formation. Most 12-step
fellowships also adopted these
principles as their structural
governance. In AA, the empathetic
desire to save other drunks resulted
in a radical emphasis on service to
other sufferers only. Thus “the only
requirement for AA membership is the
desire to stop drinking”. Similar
membership guidelines were adopted
by other fellowships, with particular
emphasis on freedom from alcohol because of the formative history of these
traditions (note that alcohol is considered a drug in most substance-related
The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous:
− Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends
upon A.A. unity.
− For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving
God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders
are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
− The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
− Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other
groups or A.A. as a whole.
− Each group has but one primary purpose to carry its message to the
alcoholic who still suffers.
− An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to
any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money,
property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
− Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside
− Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our
service centers may employ special workers.
− A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service
boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
− Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A.
name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
− Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than
promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of
press, radio, and films.
− Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever
reminding us to place principles before personalities.
One of the most widely-recognized
characteristics of twelve-step groups is the
requirement that members focus on the
admission that they quot;have a problemquot;. In this
spirit, many members open their address to
the group along the lines of, quot;Hi, I'm Pam and
I'm an alcoholicquot; — a catchphrase now widely
identified with support groups.
Attendees at group meetings share their
experiences, challenges, successes and
failures, and provide peer support for each
other. Many people who have joined these
groups report they found success that
previously eluded them, while others —
including some ex-members — criticize their
efficacy or universal applicability. This varied
success rate, along with the fact that twelve-
step programs have been associated with the
belief in a higher power -- a belief often
associated with religion -- has caused some
Twelve Step process
Twelve Step programs
symbolically represent human
structure in three dimensions:
physical, mental, and spiritual.
The disorders and diseases the
groups deal with are
understood to manifest
themselves in each dimension.
For addicts the physical
dimension is best described by
the quot;allergy-like bodily
reactionquot; resulting in the
inability to stop using
substances after the initial
use. For groups not related to
substance abuse the physical
manifestation could be much
more varied including, but not
limited too: agoraphobia,
forgetfulness, hyperactivity, hypomania, insomnia, irritability, lack of motivation,
laziness, mania, panic attacks, poor impulse control, procrastination, self-injury,
suicide attempts, and stress. The illness of the spiritual dimension, in all Twelve
Step groups, is considered to be self-centeredness. This model is not intended to
be a scientific explanation. It is only a model that members of Twelve Step
organizations have found useful.
In time, the process is intended to replace self-centeredness with a growing
moral consciousness and a willingness for self-sacrifice and unselfish constructive
action. In Twelve Step groups, this is known as a spiritual awakening or
religious experience. This should not be confused with abreaction, which
generally only results in temporary change. In Twelve Step groups, quot;spiritual
awakeningquot; is believed to develop, most frequently, slowly over a period of
In twelve-step programs, a sponsor is a more experienced person in recovery
who guides the less-experienced aspirant (quot;sponseequot;) through the process of the
steps as a program of personal recovery. One of the first suggestions newcomers
to 12-step meetings are offered is to secure a relationship with a sponsor.
A vast array of publications from various fellowhips emphasize that sponsorship
is a quot;one on onequot; relationship of shared experiences focused on working the 12
Many forms of sponsorship exist. Sponsors and sponsees participate in activities
that lead to spiritual growth as defined by the twelve-step process. These may
include practices such as literature discussion and study, meditation, and writing.
Part of the final of the twelve steps is often interpreted to imply becoming a
sponsor to newcomers in recovery. quot;Sponsorship, with its continuing interest in
another alcoholic, often develops when the second person is willing to be helped,
admits having a
and decides to seek
a way out of the
strength, and hope
sponsor’s role is
not that of a legal
adviser, a banker, a
parent, a marriage
counselor, or a
social worker. Nor
is a sponsor a
some sort of
professional advice. A sponsor is simply another addict in recovery who is willing
to share his or her journey through the Twelve Steps.quot;
– from NA's Sponsorship: Revised
Sponsees typically do their Fifth Step with their sponsor. The Fifth Step, as well
as the Ninth Step, have been compared to confession and penitence. Many, such
as Michel Foucault, noted such practices quot;produces intrinsic modifications in the
personquot; and exonerates, redeems, purifies them; it unburdens them of their
wrongs, liberates them and promises their salvation.
The personal nature of the behavioral issues that lead to seeking help in 12-step
fellowships results in a strong relationship between sponsee and sponsor. As the
relationship is based on spiritual principles, it is unique and not generally
characterized as quot;friendship.quot; Fundamentally, the sponsor has the single purpose
of helping the sponsee recover from the behavioral problem that brought the
sufferer into 12-step work, which reflexively helps the sponsor recover.
Acceptance of a Higher Power
A primary tenet of 12-step recovery requires a member to surrender willful self-
reliance (a characteristic of afflicted persons) and adopt a practice of reliance
upon a quot;Higher Powerquot; of the member's own understanding. Proponents of
twelve-step programs allege that agnostics and even atheists can be helped by
the program, as a member’s concept of a Higher Power may focus on the 12-step
group itself. With time, any other entity, thing(s) or object(s) that aid a member
in accepting their powerlessness over their problem, are claimed to become the
Higher Power that will help them to recover. It is colloquially stated that any
Power perceived as being greater than oneself will do, provided the power is not
any other, single individual, or one's own unaided will.
Literature studied in
most 12-step groups
is limited to their own
publications, as these
groups claim no
outside affiliation. The
members of 12-step
groups make the
distinction that the
groups are spiritual,
and not religious.
Some members of 12-
step groups are also
members of a wide
variety of religious
bodies. Nearly every
meeting begins with
the Serenity Prayer, a prayer addressed to quot;God.quot; Some critics also question the
idea of giving up on self-reliance, which, they argue, results in a form of
idealized despair. Others acknowledge a debt to the twelve-steps movement but
do not have a culture of belief in God.
Court-mandated Twelve-step attendance
The success of twelve-step programs in aiding the recovery of chemically-
dependent persons is an argument of significance in jurisdictions of some
criminal justice systems. The criminal justice system of the United States has
ordered attendance at 12-step meetings to convicted criminals as well as
inmates as a condition of parole, condition of shortened sentence, or as an
element of a sentence. Four courts have ruled that Alcoholics Anonymous groups
are religious organizations. The New York Court of Appeals ruled in Griffin v.
Coughlin, 88 N.Y.2d 674 (1996) that doing so compromises the Establishment
Clause of the United States Constitution on the grounds that A.A. practices and
doctrine are (in the words of the district court judge who wrote the decision)
quot;unequivocally religiousquot;. The Supreme Court of the United States denied US
Legal Certiorari and allowed the New York court's decision to stand. Such a
denial quot;imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case, as the bar
has been told many times.quot; Missouri v. Jenkins, 515 U.S. 70 (1995). Denial of
certiorari means that no binding precedent is created, and that the lower court
decision is authoritative only within its area of jurisdiction -- in this case the
State of New York. However, the decision does create a persuasive precedent for
These are some versions of the Twelve Steps from different
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics The 12 Steps of Co-Dependents
1. We admitted we were powerless 1. We admitted we were powerless
over alcohol --- that our lives had over others --- that our lives had
become unmanageable. become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power 2. Came to believe that a Power
greater than ourselves could restore greater than ourselves could restore us
us to sanity. to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and
3. Made a decision to turn our will
our lives over to the care of God as we
and our lives over to the care of God
as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, to another human being the exact
and to another human being the nature of our wrongs.
exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God
6. Were ready to have God remove remove all these defects of character.
all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked God to remove our
7. Humbly asked Him to remove shortcomings.
our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had
harmed, and became willing to make
8. Made a list of all persons we had
amends to them all.
harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people
wherever possible, except when to do
9. Made direct amends to them so would injure them or others.
wherever possible, except when to
do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal
inventory and when we were wrong
10. Continued to take personal promptly admitted it.
inventory and when we were wrong
promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and
meditation to improve our conscious
11. Sought through prayer and contact with God, praying only for
meditation to improve our conscious knowledge of God's will for us and the
contact with God as we understood power to carry that out.
Him, praying only for His will for us
12. Having had a Spiritual awakening
and the power to carry that our.
as the result of these steps, we tried to
12. Having had a Spiritual carry this message to other co-
awakening as the result of these dependents, and to practice these
steps, we tried to carry this message principles in all our affairs.
to other alcoholics, and to practice
these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 Steps to Recovery for 16 Steps for Discovery and
From: Choicemaking by Sharon From: Many Roads, One Journey;
Wegscheider Cruse Moving Beyond the 12 Steps by
Charlotte Kasl Ph.D.
1. We acknowledge and accept that we
are powerless in controlling the lives of 1. We affirm we have the power to
others, and that trying to control others take charge of our lives and stop being
makes our lives unmanageable. dependent on substances or other
people for our self-esteem and security.
2. We have come to believe that a
power greater than ourselves can 2. We come to believe that God /the
restore enough order and hope in our Goddess /Universe /Great Spirit /Higher
lives to move us to a growth Power awakens the healing wisdom
framework. within us when we open ourselves to
3. We make a decision to turn our
lives over to this power to the best of 3. We make a decision to become our
our ability, and honestly accept that authentic Selves and trust in the
taking responsibility for ourselves is the healing power of Truth.
only way growth is possible.
4. We examine our beliefs, addictions,
4. We make an inventory of ourselves, and dependent behavior in the context
looking for our mental, emotional, of living in a hierarchical, patriarchal
spiritual, physical, volitional, and social culture.
assets and liabilities. We look at what
we have, how we use it, and how we 5. We share with another person and
can acquire what we need. the Universe all those things inside of
us for which we feel shame and guilt.
5. Using this inventory as a guide, we
admit to ourselves, to God as we 6. We affirm and enjoy our strengths,
understood him, and to other caring talents, and creativity, striving not to
persons, the exact nature of what is hide these qualities to protect other's
within that is causing ourselves pain. egos.
6. We give to God as we know him all 7. We become willing to let go of
former pain, hurt, and mistakes, shame, guilt, and any behavior that
resentments and bitterness, anger, and keeps us from loving ourSelves and
guilt. We trust that we can let go of the others.
hurt that we cause and receive.
8. We make a list of people we have
7. We can ask for help, support, and harmed and people who have harmed
guidance and be willing to take us, and take steps to clear out negative
responsibility for ourselves and to energy by making amends and sharing
others. our grievances in a respectful way.
8. We begin a program of living 9. We express love and gratitude to
responsibly for ourselves, for our own others, and increasingly appreciate, the
feelings, mistakes, and successes. We wonder of life and the blessings we do
become responsible for our part in have.
relationship to others. 10. We continue to trust our reality
and daily affirm that we see what we
9. We make a list of persons to whom see, we know what we know, and we
we want to make amends and feel what we feel.
commence to do so, except where
doing so would cause further pain for 11. We promptly acknowledge our
others. mistakes and make amends when
appropriate, but we do not say we are
10. We continue to work our program, sorry for things we have not done and
each day checking out our progress and we do not cover up, analyze, or take
asking for feedback from others in our responsibility for the shortcomings of
attempt to recover and grow. We do others.
this through support groups.
12. We seek out situations, jobs, and
11. We seek through our own power people that affirm our intelligence,
and a Higher Power, awareness of our perceptions, and self-worth and avoid
inner selves. We do this through situations or people who are hurtful,
reading, listening, meditation, sharing, harmful, or demeaning to us.
and other ways of centering and getting
in touch with our inner selves. 13. We take steps to heal our physical
bodies, organize our lives, reduce
12. Having experienced the power of stress, and have fun.
growing toward wholeness, we find our
bodies, minds, and spirits awakened to 14. We seek to find our inward calling,
a new sense of physical and emotional and develop the will and wisdom to
relief which leaves us open to a new follow it.
awareness of Spirituality. We seek to
explore our meaning in life by honest 15. We accept the ups and downs of
sharing with others, remember that life as natural events that can be used
BECOMING WHO WE ARE is a lifetime as lessons for growth.
task which must be done one day at a
time. 16. We grow in awareness that we are
interrelated with all living things, and
we contribute to restoring peace and
balance on the planet.
12 Steps for Kids The Twelve Steps of Non-
From: Kids' Power: Healing Games for Recovery
Children of Alcoholics, by Jerry Moe Evidently originally called the Twelve
Steps to Insanity From the March 1990
1. I am powerless over alcohol, drugs, Issue of the ACA Communicator,
and other people's behavior and my life published by the Omaha - Council Bluffs
got real messed up because of it. Area Intergroup.
2. I need help. I can't do it alone 1. We admitted we were powerless
anymore. over nothing, that we would manage
our lives perfectly and those of anyone
3. I've made a decision to reach out for else who would allow us to.
a Power greater than me to help out. 2. Came to believe there was no
power greater than ourselves and the
4. I wrote down all of the things that rest of the world was insane.
bother me about myself and others, 3. Made a decision to have our loved
and the things that I like too. ones and friends turn their will and their
lives over to our care, even though they
5. I shared these with someone I trust couldn't understand us.
because I don't have to keep them a 4 Made a searching moral and immo-
secret anymore. ral inventory of everyone we knew.
5. Admitted to the whole world the
6. My Higher Power helps me with exact nature of everyone else's wrongs.
this, too. 6. Were entirely ready to make others
straighten up and do right.
7. The more I trust myself and my 7. Demanded others to either shape up
Higher Power, the more I learn to trust or ship out.
others. 8 Made a list of all persons who had
harmed us and became willing to go to
8. I made a list of the people I hurt any length to get even with them all.
and the ways I hurt myself. I can now 9. Got direct revenge on such people
forgive myself and others. whenever possible, except when to do
so would cost us our lives, or at the
9. I talked to these people even if I very least a jail sentence.
was scared to because I knew that it 10. Continued to take inventory of
would help me feel better about myself. others, and when they were wrong
promptly and repeatedly told them
10. I keep on discovering more things about it.
about myself each day and if I hurt 11. Sought through complaining and
someone, I apologize. nagging to improve our relations with
others as we couldn't understand them,
11. When I am patient and pray, I get asking only that they knuckle under and
closer to my Higher Power, and that do it our way.
helps me know myself better. 12. Having had a complete physical,
emotional and spiritual breakdown as a
12. By using these steps, I've become result of these steps, we tried to blame
a new person. I don't have to feel it on others and to get sympathy and
alone anymore, and I can help others. pity in all of our affairs.
12 Step Process
THE BIBLE & THE TWELVE STEPS
The 12 Steps, properly
understood, are actually twelve
verses of scripture specifically
chosen and simplified for
the addicted one. When properly
applied, they have the ability to
walk a man out of bondage, clean
him up, teach him how to live,
and equip him to effectively help
others find freedom. A physically
sick person would go to a doctor
and get a medicinal prescript-
ion, and if taken as directed, would
hopefully recover. The addicted
one on the other hand has damage
in all three areas (body, soul, and
spirit) and is in need of healing in
all three areas. The problems
burried deep within the soul and
spirit are spiritual and thus require
a spiritual solution. The only One
that can expose and dispose
(surgically remove them) is
the Spiritual Surgeon, Jesus.
The twelve steps, quot;a spiritual prescription of scripturequot; are twelve verses of
scripture simplified for the alcoholic and the addict to understand, accept, and utilize.
This process, Biblically speaking, is known as deliverance.
This simple formula has the ability to deliver an abuser from a life of bondage
and insanity, to a place of freedom, peace, and joy. We find in Jesus, what most have
been searching for in the bottle, a needle, and a pipe.
Steps 1 through 3 have the ability to take a person from a state of selfish self-
centeredness, powerless, helpless, and hopeless, to a Christ-centered life, hopeful and
all-powerful in Christ Jesus. At step three, the all-powerful Helper comes to live within.
quot;Made a decisionquot; has deeper meaning to it. To decide actually means to kill off the
other option or options. In the process of deliverance, this term is called renounce.
When we decide to turn our will and life over to the care of God, we are
actually renouncing the connections we have made with the other gods we were
worshiping such as alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. The Gate Keeper, our Lord Jesus Christ, the
only One with the power to get them out, can and will get them out and will keep them
out but only if He is asked. He is the giver and respecter of free will, leaving it up to us
to choose how we want to live. When a spirit is removed (in the power of Jesus), the
only way that spirit can return is through a conscious or unconscious invite back. God
has given man a free will and He will certainly respect and protect it.
Steps 4 through 9 are house cleaning steps, a time to utilize the Helper (the Holy Spirit
living within) in the cleansing process of inner self. First, immoral behavior (sin) is dealt
with, then the sinful nature (the defective character living within) that leads us to
sin, and finally we face those that we have harmed with our sinful destructive behaviors.
Admitting our wrongs, repenting of that behavior, forgiving one's self, forgiving others,
and receiving God's forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of others is the key to
freedom. What a freeing experience it is to clean up the wreckage of our sinful
Step 10 is the maintenance step, teaching us to evaluate our daily behavior, while
encouraging us to clean up potential problems before they become problems. Diligently
revisiting this step keeps us from building a new inventory of lingering unresolved
Step 11 encourages continual spiritual growth, continuously improving our personal
relationship with God. It is His desire to have an ongoing personal relationship with each
of us, and healthy relationships require good communication. We communicate with
Him through prayer and meditation. In prayer, we speak to Him, and through
meditation, He speaks to us. Some of our biggest lessons come directly from Him
through prayer and meditation.
Step 12 is all about trying to help those still suffering in bondage to their addiction. We
become living, breathing testimonies of God's transforming power. Carrying the
message of freedom, Biblically speaking, is known as the great commission. Those that
have experienced this new found freedom can't help but want to share it with others.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles for recovery from
addictive, compulsive, or other behavioral problems, originally developed by the
fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (quot;A.A.quot;) to guide recovery from alcoholism.
The twelve steps were first published in the text Alcoholics Anonymous (quot;The Big
Bookquot;). This method has been adapted as the foundation of other twelve-step
programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Marijuana
Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous and Emotions
Anonymous. Mandated court involvement with 12-step fellowships is a
controversial practice of some governments; as stated in the Twelve Traditions,
Twelve-step fellowships have no opinion as a group on issues other than
personal recovery. As summarized by the American Psychological Association,
working the Twelve Steps involves the following.
• admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion;
• recognizing a spiritual higher power that can give strength;
• examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced
• making amends for these errors;
• learning to live a new life with a new code of behaviour;
• helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.
Overview of Twelve-Step Programs
The way of life outlined
in the 12-steps has
been adapted widely.
The effects of A.A.
recovery within the
family unit providing
improved quality of life
resulted in fellowships
people who did not
relate to the specifics
of alcohol dependency
together as Narcotics
groups were formed
for sufferers of cocaine
addiction, crystal meth addiction and many other behavioral problems.
Behavioral issues such as compulsion and/or addiction with sex, food, and
gambling were found to be solved for some people with the daily application of
the 12-steps in such fellowships as Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, Overeaters
Anonymous and Emotions Anonymous. Other groups addressing problems with
certain types of behaviors include Clutterers Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous
and Gamblers Anonymous. Over 50 fellowships composed of millions of recovery
members, all based in the same principles, are found around the world.
quot;After a while I began to wonder why I was not [happy] ... I decided to strive for
my own spiritual growth. I used the same principles [Bill] did to learn how to
change my attitudes. ... We began to learn that ...the partner of the alcoholic
also needed to live by a spiritual program.quot;
– quot;Lois's Storyquot; in the Al-Anon quot;Big Bookquot;, a typical story of a sufferer finding
fulfillment through application of the 12 steps
The Twelve Steps
These are the original Twelve Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore
us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God
as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the
exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to
make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when
to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal
inventory and when we were wrong
promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and
meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood
Him, praying only for knowledge of
His Will for us and the power to carry
12. Having had a spiritual
awakening as the result of these
steps, we tried to carry this message
to alcoholics, and to practice these
principles in all our affairs.
Other twelve-step groups have adapted these steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as
guiding principles for problems other than alcoholism; in some cases the steps
have been altered to emphasize particular principles important to those
The first such program was Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), which was begun in
1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, known to A.A. members as quot;Bill W.quot; and
quot;Dr. Bobquot;, in Akron, Ohio. They established the tradition within the quot;anonymousquot;
Twelve-step programs of using only first names. The Twelve Steps were
originally written by Wilson and represented Wilson's incorporation of the
teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker about the Oxford Group's life-changing
As Alcoholics Anonymous was growing in the 1930s and 1940s and definite
guiding principles began to emerge as the 12 traditions, a singleness of purpose
emerged as tradition five: quot;Each group has but one primary purpose to carry its
message to the alcoholic who still suffers.quot;  Consequently, drug addicts who do
not suffer from the specifics of alcoholism involved in Alcoholics Anonymous
hoping for recovery technically are not welcome in 'closed' meetings for
alcoholics only. The reason for such emphasis on alcoholism as the problem is
to overcome denial and distraction. Thus the principles of Alcoholics
Anonymous have been used to form many numbers of other fellowships for those
recovering from various pathologies, each of which in term emphasizes recovery
from the specific malady which brought the sufferer into the fellowship.
Key Recovery Concepts
There are five key recovery concepts that, through her research, Mary
Ellen found to be essential to effective recovery work. They are:
Hope - People who experience mental health difficulties get well, stay well and go on to meet their
life dreams and goals.
Personal Responsibility - It's up to you, with the assistance of others, to take action and do
what needs to be done to keep yourself well.
Education - Learning all you can about what you are experiencing so you can make good decisions
about all aspects of you life.
Self Advocacy -Effectively reaching out to others so that you can get what it is that you need,
want and deserve to support your wellness and recovery.
Support - While working toward your wellness is up to you, receiving support from others, and
giving support to others will help you feel better and enhance the quality of your life.