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Codependency: what it is, how it begins, and how to stop it

October 29th, 2020 by

The term “codependency” is often thrown around loosely, and it always brings with it a negative stigma. This term may seem straightforward, but it’s actually more complex than it appears.

What is Codependency?

According to Psychology Today, “codependency”  is a term used to describe a relationship, by  “being caring, highly functional, and helpful, one person is said to support, perpetuate, or ‘enable’ a loved one’s irresponsible or destructive behaviour.”

It is important to note that codependency is known as “relationship addiction” because those exhibiting codependency often have emotional, destructive, one-sided relationships. 

Examples include enabling a drug addict or alcoholic by covering up for them out of fear of losing them or saying “yes” even when you want to say “no,” out of fear of others’ disapproval.

What are Codependency Traits?

Extensive research has been done, and books and articles have been written on the extensive list of codependency traits. Sharon Martin, LCSW from PsychCentral and Dr Shawna Freshwater, a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist from Spacious Therapy, provide a myriad of codependent traits, and while these lists are far from exhaustive, here they are in categories:

Poor Emotional and Physical Boundaries

whiteriver manor - personality disorders

Codependents struggle with poor emotional and physical boundaries, which can cause problems in relationships. This can unfold in ways like the following:

Unhealthy Emotional Dependency on Others

Codependents feel a strong need to take care of others because they need to feel needed.

They frequently befriend people who have ongoing problems in order to help, but really, this “helping” is unhealthy for the codependent.

This emotional dependency manifests in the following ways:

Controlling Behavior

The codependent doesn’t realise that because they so deeply need others’ approval, they are exhibiting controlling behaviour. They often possess perfectionistic tendencies and stress when their expectations are not met. Codependents often:

Weak Sense of Self

Codependency behaviour results from a weak sense of self, which causes emotional pain and the need to control others. This means that codependents often:

Emotional Pain

When you lack a sense of self, emotional pain is sure to be present. Codependents often struggle with understanding and expressing their true feelings, which causes the following:

How are Codependency Traits Formed?

Like many human traits, codependency forms in infancy and through childhood. The core of personality is formed by age five, and the years that follow are adaptations to supplement the already established personality.

Codependency is formed early on in one’s life as a way to cope with trauma of any kind. This is a good time to define trauma, as while it could mean growing up in an alcoholic and abusive home, it doesn’t have to be. Trauma is the Greek word for “wound,” and it encompasses physical, mental, and emotional wounds.

Perhaps you grew up with a sick family member who was everyone’s primary focus, and you felt neglected. Maybe there were serious issues in your family dynamics, but no one addressed them. Maybe you felt unloved or misunderstood. All of these examples can create long-term effects.

Recovery Connection mentions that research has shown that codependency is generational, meaning it is learned from the family of origin.

One important point is that many times codependents will turn to addictive behaviours to “negotiate their unsolved feelings,” according to Recovery Connection. Codependents may begin a pattern of addiction with alcohol, drugs, food, or other risky behaviours, quickly causing a downward spiral.

How Do You Get Help For Codependency?

If you are reading this article and seeing that you exhibit codependent traits, first know that codependency is not a biological illness. Rather, it is a learned behaviour used as a coping mechanism.

It is quite common, and the first step is realising it’s an issue in your life. BetterHelp, the world’s largest online counselling program, gives this advice for getting help for codependency:

Research: Learn more about codependency and understand how it starts. Read self-help books, research online, talk with others about it. The more you understand, the better.

Recognise: Recognising means that you are not in control of others, their reactions, their happiness, etc. When you think thoughts that foster codependency, recognise and reframe them. For example, My friend is not returning my calls, but that doesn’t mean she is upset with me. She may be busy or having a hard day, but I cannot control her thoughts, feelings, or behaviours. 

Regroup: Once you identify a codependent thought, replace it with a healthy one. This will seem unnatural at first, but it gets easier with practice.

You may also want to seek out professional therapy or codependent support groups, as these can be an enormous step in the right direction and facilitate healing.

This entire article could be summed up in one sentence: Codependency traits stem from a root issue of one’s difficulty loving, accepting, trusting, and being true to self.

Once this key point is identified, healing can begin.

You cannot change others, but you can change you.


We’re here to help. Contact us today for a free and confidential chat with one of our clinical team.

Is rehab good for treating depression?

August 27th, 2020 by

Many people think rehab centres are solely to help people suffering from an addiction. But in fact an increasing number of people are seeking treatment for depression at recovery and wellness centres such as White River Manor.

Depression is a potentially life-threatening mental health condition. In all cases it should be treated immediately by professionals who understand it.

Everyone feels sad at times as it’s a completely normal emotion. It helps us deal with certain situations – and we were give tears for a good reason.

However, depression is totally different to feeling sad for a few days about something. For a start, sometimes someone who’s depressed cannot even pinpoint any specific reason for why they are feeling so low.

It is a burgeoning major global mental health problem. According to WHO (the World Health Organization), depression is a mental disorder that affects 264 million people of all ages worldwide.

Depression can cause someone to suffer terribly. It may mean they function poorly at work, college, in the family and their community.

At its worst, depression can lead to death by suicide. Around 800,000 people die from suicide each year. 

Signs of depression

depression white river manor

Clearly it’s vital to know depression symptoms. If you or anyone you know shows these signs for more than a few days – especially if it’s for two weeks for most of each day – it’s essential to seek professional help without delay.

One of the great advantages of seeking treatment at a rehab centre is that our team is here to help 24 hours a day. We are very experienced in helping treat people with depression and have had great success in ensuring enduring recoveries.

Tailored programme

We have specially devised treatments for depression. Initially our team will establish what type of depression anyone has that seeks our help.

There are several kinds of depression including major depressive disorder (MDD), situational depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), persistent depressive disorder (PDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

As soon as we establish which depression a guest is suffering from we will also look to see if there are any co-occurring disorders. These can include such as burnout, anxiety and addiction.

Then an individual treatment plan will be created. This is tailored to each guest’s therapeutic requirements and specific needs.

We know that everyone reaching out for our help is unique. We always treat the entire person.

So that means each guest will see our complete expert team. That includes psychologists, counsellors and nurses plus therapists in such as music and art

Then our gourmet chefs will ensure every meal has excellent nutritional value. As well as, of course, being delicious.

We also have a spa to give you luxury treatment such as full body massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. There’s a fully equipped private gym and a swimming pool too. 

Then there is our expansive and tranquil 21-hectare gardens, perfect for yoga, meditation or just reading a book. Or you can take a relaxing walk in nature along any of our extensive trails or try canoeing on the Sabie River.

In addition, there’s a mountain bike trail as well as other sporting options including golf, tennis and horse-riding. There’s also always excursions to the nearby stunning Kruger National Park where you can see zebras, elephant and lions.

Our guests have agreed with us that South Africa’s year-round sunny climate and the natural beautiful environment here are all great healers too. The sunshine is fantastic for helping with all mental health conditions, especially depression.

We’re fortunate to see sunrises and sunsets most days that are priceless. Another added consideration is that presently South Africa is unbelievable value for money.

Group therapy

Depression can leave someone feeling totally isolated. Being here with us all will immensely help alleviate that.

There’s the knowing that you’re surrounded by people who care 100 percent for your wellbeing and recovery. Then there are the other guests who have similar aims of recovery.

We have such as group therapy as part of our treatment. This is when guests under the guidance of one of our team will listen to and help each other.

Group therapy has been proven over the years to be extremely beneficial. We can also introduce guests to the 12 Steps recovery programme, one aspect of which involves a form of group therapy as well.

Lifetime recovery

one to one therapy on the patio at White River Manor

We will also offer our guests other therapy suitable for their personal recovery. That includes such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness therapy, adult-child therapy and solution-focused therapy.

All of these have been shown to help people to a long-lasting recovery.

That is always our ultimate aim – that when one of our guests leaves here they have the knowledge and skills to deal with anything in life that could otherwise lead to depression again. We want their recovery to last for the rest of their lifetime.

Of course, all of this is set among our five-star manor house with its first-class luxury accommodation. Relaxation and good sleep are vital factors for a strong recovery.


Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you or someone you care about.

How to know if you’re enabling addiction

July 6th, 2020 by

An “enabler” is a person who encourages or allows self-destructive behaviour in another. That means any habit that’s detrimental to the person and usually those around them too.

It’s most often used around someone addicted to alcohol or drugs. By enabling the addict it means the addiction is more likely to continue.

For instance, it’s when an alcoholic’s partner does things for the alcoholic they could do for themselves if they were not drinking so much. That is such as repairing something they damaged in a drunken state.

Many people would see this as just being helpful. But there’s a big difference.

What does enabling someone mean?

Helping is doing something the addict could not do for themselves. Enabling means you do something they could do themselves if their addiction wasn’t in the way.

Common traits of enablers are:

It’s very hard not to do everything you can for someone who’s clearly struggling. But an addict needs to realize that their behaviour has consequences.

They never will if someone else is always mopping up their mess. That means they will be much less likely to seek the help they desperately need.

Stopping being an enabler can be extremely difficult. An alcoholic’s partner may, for instance, fear the family income will be lost if the alcoholic loses their job. Or that the alcoholic will have a terrible accident or end up taking their life.

It’s such a recognized problem that in 1951 Al-Anon was formed. It’s an organization that helps anyone who is worried about someone with a drinking problem.

One of its strongest suggestions is not to cover for a problematic situation that an alcoholic’s behaviour causes. That’s described as “putting pillows under them”. This means the heavy drinker will never feel any of the pain caused by their actions.

How to stop enabling an addict

While we cannot change other people, we can always change our attitude, behaviour and reactions towards them. We need to learn the difference between enabling and helping.

It’s important to remember you can choose not to accept or tolerate certain behaviour. You can “detach with love”.

This means you are letting go of solving the addicted person’s addiction and all its difficulties. But you still love that person.

Make sure not to:

Make sure to:

Everything needs to be assessed as it arises. You cannot say such as that you will never give the addicted person a lift anywhere. For instance, if they ask for a lift to a 12 Steps meeting you would be helping if you took them. But giving them a lift to somewhere they could visit a bar would make you an enabler.

Many addicts become skilled manipulators and regularly deceive to keep their addiction going. This could be such as saying they need money for food when it’s really for a drink.

Many people in a relationship with an addict discover they are a co-dependent person.

A co-dependent is someone characterized by excessive psychological or emotional reliance on a partner, usually one who requires support for an illness or addiction. Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) is a group that helps co-dependent people.

Many times when an addict’s enabling system is removed, it causes them to seek help. But it’s not guaranteed. This is often very difficult to accept.


We are experienced in all aspects of addiction. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you or someone you care about.

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