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Codependency & Control Issues

Rooted in dysfunctional relationship patterns

What Are Codependency and Control Issues?

Codependency is an emotional condition in which individuals frequently ignore their own needs while constantly fulfilling the needs of others. This is a learned behavior that comes as a result of dysfunctional relationship patterns, which can often be related to a loved one’s substance abuse. Individuals who have experienced trauma, especially physical, sexual, or verbal abuse due to a loved one’s addiction or mental health conditions, are at high risk for developing codependency and control issues. Codependency can often be passed down through generations of unhealthy family relationships.

One of our Senior Fellows at The Meadows, Pia Mellody, explains that the term “codependent” was once “co-alcoholic.” It became “codependent” to include those connected to drug addicts (with the word “dependent” being a nod to chemical dependency). Thanks to Mellody’s work with patients to uncover the complex roots of addiction and codependency, The Meadows Developmental Model of Immaturity was created.

Codependency and control issues

Negative Effects of Codependency and Control Issues

Codependency and control issues can have a wide-ranging negative impact. Because codependent people spend their time trying to accommodate and appease others in order to avoid negative outcomes, they often feel out of control. The need to exercise control becomes strong, and it is usually redirected into behaviors that can become compulsory. Codependents may rely on alcohol, drugs, food, or sex to find emotional relief. They may seek to control others or their environment in order to tame the chaos they experience internally.

Codependent individuals may find themselves caught up in addiction or further unhealthy relationships. Because their care-taking response is so strong, they may attract people who are needy, impulsive, and erratic. Broken or abusive relationships, poor decision-making, negative consequences, and personal loss may all come as a result of untreated codependency and control issues.

“It’s the nature of man to behave like a codependent.”

-Pia Mellody, Meadows Senior Fellow

Codependency and Control Issues by the Numbers

According to an analysis of several codependency studies:

  • In a survey of college students, 85% of men and 76% of women met the “high to middle” classification for codependency.
  • Family stress has been connected to a higher likelihood of codependency.
  • Codependency has been correlated with low self-esteem.
  • Traditional roles related to women (nurturing and caretaking) may elevate a person’s tendency to develop codependent feelings and behaviors.

Symptoms of Codependency and Control Issues

What are the symptoms of codependency and control issues? Meadows Senior Fellow Pia Mellody states that codependence has clear markers. If you’re codependent, “you have trouble esteeming yourself, have trouble with personal boundaries, have trouble with poor self-care, and have trouble with moderation issues,” she says.


According to Mental Health America, here are some other symptoms:

  • Lack of trust in self and others
  • A sense of guilt related to asserting one’s own needs
  • Always doing more than one’s share
  • Feeling hurt when one’s efforts are not recognized
  • An overdeveloped sense of responsibility for others (and the actions of others)
  • A need to control one’s environment or the behavior of others
  • Fear of abandonment or loneliness
  • A deep need for approval or validation
  • Difficulty establishing healthy boundaries with others
  • Chronic anger
  • Difficulty adjusting to change
  • Difficulty making decisions, identifying feelings, or communicating clearly with others

“It’s the nature of man to behave like a codependent,” says Mellody. “…You wind up marrying or being relational with people that replicate your family. You wind up replicating your childhood nightmare by marrying somebody who’s going to help you recreate your family of origin.”

Treatment for Codependency and Control Issues at The Meadows

If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for codependency and control issues, we’re here for you. The Meadows specializes in helping codependent individuals find the path to recovery, treating emotional conditions, addiction, and mental health conditions in the same setting for the best possible outcome. We are equipped to provide innovative, research-backed treatments along with individual, group, and experiential therapies. Call us today to find out more about our program and how we can help you or a loved one recover from codependency and control issues.

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Our Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and is experienced in assisting others with compassion, dignity, and respect — hallmark values of The Meadows for more than 45 years. The Meadows’ Admissions Specialists are here to help you on your way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. When you call, they will lead you through a series of questions to determine if The Meadows is a good fit, and how soon your treatment can begin. If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out an admissions form today!

If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one call or fill out an admissions form today!

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