Codependence In a Nutshell

This blog post was written by Amy Margolia, MSW.

Wikepedia may define the opposite of independence as dependence, but as an addictions specialist, I consider the opposite of independence “codependence!”  I treat a lot of clients in my practice struggling with this malady.  According to Melody Beattie in her bestselling book “Codependency No More” codependence is defined as “a psychological condition or relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition.” (such as an addiction to alcohol, gambling, sex, work, etc)

If you are wondering if you are codependent, see if you answer yes to these three questions. First, are you are a caretaker, always putting other people’s wants and needs above your own then feeling martyred and victimized? Second, do you have low self esteem, always looking outside yourself for validation of your worth?  Finally, are you  obsessive, always thinking about other people’s lives and problems even when you do not want to be?!

If you answered yes, you are not alone and there is lot of help available. When treating codependence, I always implement individual as well as group therapy.  In individual, you learn to focus on yourself, build your self esteem, explore your own wants and needs, and set appropriate boundaries.  In group, you learn to relate with others in new and healthy ways.  Instead of being a caretaker, you have a chance to be authentically who you are and be valued for just that!  As I always remind my clients, you have no control over other people’s behavior so put your focus where you do have power… over your own life!

Here is a list of resources to aid in recovery of codependency…



Twelve Step Programs:


Smart Recovery:


“Codependency No More” by Melody Beattie

“Facing Codependence” by Pia Mellody

“Homecoming” by John Bradshaw.

Elana Clark-Faler
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