The alcoholic is wrapped around the bottle. The codependent is wrapped around the person.
Codependence, like addiction is a maladaptive way of coping with pain and discomfort.
Codependence creates a preoccupation with, over reliance of and intense relationship/attachment to other people and the externals as an avoidance tactic to skirt chronic discomfort, emotional pain, grief, shame, and possibly trauma.
It is understood as a state of distress commonly linked to dysfunction in childhood. Like addiction it creates distressing and unstable relationships both with others and with ourselves. Like addiction it touches the lives of everyone and has deleterious affects on loved ones.
Unlike many chemical addictions, its presence is often difficult to pin point. People often live their entire lives not realizing they suffer from it, especially as we live in a society and culture that very much reinforces its presence.
It exists on a spectrum, creating both subtle and potentially devastating consequences for the people suffering from it and those who around them.
Common symptoms of codependency include:
Self worth/self esteem issues
Over reliance/dependence on loved one(s)
Obsessive thought patterns
Difficulty setting boundaries and tending to ones needs/desires
Emotional highs and lows.
People pleasing behaviors
Substance abuse/other compulsive behaviors
Codependence is a painful way of existing and I treat it with the same seriousness as I would any addiction, - thoroughly and holistically.