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What Is Counter-Dependency?

What Is Counter-Dependency?

Counter-dependency, in simple terms, can be defined as a lack of trust or a feeling of detachment from other people

Most of us are familiar with the term dependency and its implications when it comes to drug addiction. We may have come to learn that a person becomes dependent on a certain substance after abusing it for a period of time and now his body requires a consistent supply of said substance to be at ease and function correctly. This happens because, as explained in MedlinePlus from the National Institutes of Health, the brain’s function and structure can be modified after continually using alcohol or a psychoactive drug — either a prescription medication or an illegal counterpart.

Many others are familiar with co-dependency too. Co-dependency can be defined as a big fear of separation and a lack of healthy autonomy. For example, a person may tolerate a loved one’s addiction problem because he or she feels that separation from said person will only cause negative consequences. A co-dependent person may make excuses for the addicted person while believing this is only a temporary problem. Such a person may even tolerate verbal or physical abuse, or may become an enabler for the other’s person addiction. Psych Central lists “caretaking” as one of the symptoms of co-dependency, meaning that the co-dependent person may give everything of himself to dangerous levels while trying to help someone who clearly doesn’t want any help.

By knowing what these two aforementioned terms mean and imply, it is easier to grasp the meaning of counter-dependency. Counter-dependency, in simple terms, can be defined as a lack of trust or a feeling of detachment from other people and what they can offer. It can also be explained as an autonomy that is exaggerated to the point of believing any kind of external help is unnecessary and emotional reliance on others is nonexistent.

The Difference of Counter-Dependency and Healthy Autonomy

Not all levels of autonomy are counter-dependency. Healthy autonomy is a level of self-reliance that is useful to recognize our own separation from others in terms of decision-taking, controlling one’s life and developing values, abilities and an emotional stability. Healthy autonomy is also necessary to reaching full potential while at the same time regulating the development of healthy interpersonal relationships in a social environment. A person with a healthy level of autonomy has no problem relying on others whenever it’s necessary to do it.

Counter-dependency and healthy autonomy are similar in the sense that the counter-dependent person seeks autonomy as an important value. However, counter-dependency makes a person develop a level of autonomy that makes him completely separate from others because of an intrinsic fear of relying on others or trusting them in any way. The reason behind this is that a person with this issue believes that trusting in others, such as by becoming intimate or opening up in terms of feelings and emotions, will only bring negative consequences. A person with this condition could even fake reliance on his partner causing further problems of trust and a lack of connection on an emotional level.

It is sometimes hard to effectively detect counter-dependency in a person who has learned to hide his condition. Four common symptoms of counter-dependency are:

  • Refuses to ask for help until it is absolutely necessary
  • Egotistical traits always thinking about his own gain or protection
  • Unable to form emotional connections with others
  • Cannot show vulnerability and becomes extremely uneasy when possibly appearing weak

Although it might be hard at the beginning, it is important to provide help for a person suffering from this condition as it is a mental issue that could develop into further, more debilitating consequences. Family counseling and therapy sessions have been effective in helping a person find the underlying causes for his condition, such as emotional problems while growing up due to detachment from parents or abuse. Prompt treatment is valuable if we consider that counter-dependency and addiction become related after suffering from this condition for a period of time.

Counter-Dependency and Addiction

The connection between mental issues and resulting substance abuse and addiction has been subject to many studies in the past years. For example, a study published in 2008 and discussed by the National Institute of Mental Health showed evidence that clearly links mood disorders with the probability of drug dependence problems if the condition remains untreated. It was concluded that early detection of mental health issues should be a priority in order to avoid future problems of drug abuse.

It is not hard to understand why isolation and addiction can become an issue. A person who is trying to keep his autonomy may find himself suffering from the consequences of mistrust and isolation. After the consequences start piling up and other negative issues take place, the sufferer may try to cope with such problems by abusing drugs.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that an effective treatment plan for addiction must address the psychological health of the individual. By doing so, not only is addiction treated, but also any underlying cause that could be causing it. Finding addiction help in these instances is important, but it might be necessary to first learn to accept help from others in order to fully benefit from the treatment program.

Call us today by using our toll free helpline that is available 24 hours a day if you or someone close to you has problems with counter-dependency or drug addiction. We can help you find the right program according to your needs and will direct you to the best services available — from family counseling to the best match from a national network of rehab facilities. Give recovery a chance and call today.

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