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If codependency unfairly blames the loved ones of addicts, then prodependency tries to support them.

When people discuss harmful relationships, they often use the words “codependent” and “codependency.” These words suggest an unhealthy relationship – that one partner needs the other for total fulfillment, or that one partner enables the addictions of the other by “loving too much.”

The world of relationship recovery gets murky. But its stakes stay high. So how else can we see relationships more clearly?

Prodependency: Another Look

This clever little phrase comes from the book Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependence, written by Dr. Rob Weiss and Dr. Stefanie Carnes. It offers a new approach to the loved ones of those who suffer from addiction.

Dr. Weiss has written before on why the codependency approach might harm couples’ chances in therapy: if a therapist tells you that your desire to care for your addicted loved one rises from your own issues, even that you’re part of the problem, you likely won’t return to therapy. Confusing or condemning the caring partner won’t help the relationship recover, says Dr. Weiss.

This error, he adds, is where prodependency comes in. It theorizes that if you want to stay with an addicted loved one, your desire isn’t necessarily harmful. It may be perfectly healthy, but you’ll still need guidance to navigate your relationship through addiction. You’re attached to this loved one from genuine care, the theory suggests, and that’s something worth guiding and protecting.

What Does It Look Like?

It depends on who you are and who your loved one is. What a prodependence counselor might recommend would have to suit your relationship’s needs. But here are some ideas that Dr. Weiss suggests would not take place through prodependence:

  1. Codependence might dig into your childhood if you want to stay with your addicted loved one. That’s to decide whether there’s past trauma you’re recreating in this new relationship.
  2. A therapist would treat you as one half of the problem, even if your attachment is objectively healthy. That’s just what codependence assumes.

These sorts of unhelpful counseling tactics are what Dr. Weiss confronts with prodependence. You can learn more by reading the book for greater detail.

And did you know that Dr. Weiss leads a sex addiction meeting here at In The Rooms? It’s Friday nights from 9-10 pm EST, and under Dr. Weiss’s direction it promises genuine, shame-free discussion of difficult sex and relationship issues. If you sign up for the site, just look up the “Sex, Love and Addiction Meeting.” It’s one meeting out of dozens on the site, and like all the rest, it can help you sustain your recovery little by little.

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