People who are codependent in their personal relationships are dealing with issues surrounding denial, low self-esteem, compliance and control. They may have trouble identifying and expressing how they feel or remain in unhealthy situations due to a misguided sense of loyalty. Other people who are codependents in their personal relationships have a need to be "needed" in their relationships and may use gifts or sexual intimacy as a way to control the other person.
Codependents Anonymous Overview
Codependents Anonymous ("CoDA") is a group that is open to anyone who wants to develop healthy relationships. All you need to join is a desire to have a loving relationship with another person. Members attend meetings where they share their experiences to help each other develop a love of self and establish more positive personal relationships.
CoDA operates under the understanding that codependent behavior is a compulsion and is the result of the experiences that a person had growing up. Instead of having a sense that they have value simply because they exist, some people get their senses of self-worth from their relationships with their mate, friends, or children. CoDA members may be dealing with other addictions as well.
Traditions, Steps, and Process
CoDA was established in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1986. The organization has 1200 groups in the United States. CoDA groups are also active in approximately 40 countries.
The first step in the 12 steps that CoDA has adopted is to realize that members are powerless over others. People who have recognized that they have problems with codependency in their personal relationships are encouraged to go to a meeting and listen to other members' experiences. By listening and sharing, the group members can learn how to develop a sense of belonging and peace in their relationships. They are no longer controlled by fear, and accept themselves and others.
Effectiveness: Does Codependents Anonymous Work?
The organization claims to have helped millions of people to have healthy relationships, but the definition of success for CoDA members is a very subjective thing. Whether someone's relationships are better after joining CoDA is up to the member to decide for him or herself. Being able to maintain a relationship is a sign that the CoDA program works.
Controversy and Criticism
Like other 12-step programs, CoDA avoids speaking out about any causes or issues. The program does not charge any fees or dues to its members. Each group supports itself by accepting donations.
Getting a Sponsor
New members are asked to listen to the experiences of people who have been with the group for a while and spend time with them after meetings. Once the new members find someone they feel comfortable sharing with, then they can ask that person to sponsor them.
Find a Codependents Anonymous Meeting Near You
The CoDA web site has an online form you can fill in to find a meeting in your area. You can also find meeting in other countries by clicking on "World Meetings." The "Alternative Meetings" tab will show you a list of options, including online meetings (held in a chat room) and telephone meetings that you can attend.