Several years ago I was presenting my Disentangle material at a conference on addiction and recovery. My session was full with around 30 participants. As we started the session, I asked the participants to give me some comments about why they had chosen to attend my session. Several hands went up right away. The first man I called on said, “I am here, because the primary reason for relapse is codependence.” A number of people nodded and agreed.
This man worked in a treatment center for substance addictions. And though much of the treatment offered to patients in such a setting is directed at education about and treatment for specific substances, this counselor knew that the treatment of this process addiction of losing our self in someone else is essential to sobriety from those substances.
Then within the past month, I ran into an article also saying this same thing. In a blog appearing in Sober Living Outpatient, David Kolker, therapist states, “The number one cause of relapse is codependency.”
These statements are emphasizing the importance of understanding and treating codependency for solid recovery. As you know, I speak of codependence as loss of self in someone else. If I am not able to listen to, to attend to, and to cultivate my self, I am very likely to fill those needs through things outside of my self. This external meeting of my needs can range from tangled relationships to return to substance addictions.
It is completely normal for me to have my needs for love, connection, attention, safety, security, and encouragement – to name just a few of these human needs. It is just important for me to be learning how to offer these things to my self as a cornerstone of my own health and recovery. My potential to be in a healthy relationship and substance free is greatly increased by this loving work on my own behalf first.