Co-dependency is a highly controversial struggle and so often misunderstood, misdiagnosed and all too often remains untreated.
One description is “addicted to the addict”, another is addicted to a person or relationship and often it’s a person who is addicted to control.
Co-dependency often means that a person sees the relationship or their “loved one” as more important than themselves. There is one person in the relationship that is trying everything in their power to make the relationship work but it is completely one-sided but they are often so deep in denial. Denying their own wants or needs, they simply just want to be loved. Unfortunately, by being co-dependent it causes more problems than solutions. If you are co-dependent you more than likely will be abused and/or taken advantage of. This is often not sufficient of a consequence and most co-dependents would just find excuses for it and continue being in denial.

Understand the Symptoms
Here is a list of some of the symptoms of someone who is co-dependent:
  • They are constantly taking care of their partner/child or loved on (almost acting as a mother figure or father figure)
  • They have low self esteem
  • They suppress their own needs
  • They may suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder and worry about everything
  • They suffer from denial
  • They rely on others to make them happy and give them what they need
  • They are bad at communicating
  • They do not trust themselves or anyone or will trust someone untrustworthy
  • They have sex just to make their partner happy whether they feel like it or not
  • They are either responsible or irresponsible
  • They find it hard to find happiness
  • Are often addicted to “HOPE”

The above mentioned symptoms will only become worse over time causing the co-dependent individual to become depressed, to start neglecting their own lives, daily routines as well as their family or friends and they could possibly even start abusing substances like over the counter or prescription medication or even start drinking in an attempt to make the situation better.
At CHANGES, we focus on helping the co-dependent as well as the chemically dependent, because we recognize the need for a holistic healing and without healing the whole family, recovery is very difficult.



Alcohol is one of the most cunning drugs available to man. It is socially acceptable, encouraged, celebrated with, commiserated with and abused by billions of people.
Most people don’t even realise that they have an alcohol addiction until it’s too late. Alcoholism has been recognised as having a genetic link to previous generations and the life long debate exists as to whether it is “nature or nurture” that causes it. Much like the chicken and egg fable, nobody knows exactly where it starts.
Should you have a grandparent or parents that are addicted to alcohol the chances of you becoming addicted is high. It could stem from how you were raised – if alcohol was available to you from a young age or if your parents tolerated or encouraged the use of it, the more likely you are to enjoy drinking. If you have an underlying psychiatric illness and struggle with emotional health, like depression, are dealing with stress, grief, loss, anger and even anxiety you are more than likely going to develop an alcohol addiction as an attempt to numb the emotional pain.
Drinking is something that is socially accepted and widely available. It is common and affordable in most cultures. A lot of people don’t seem to realise what the difference between social drinking and having a drinking problem is. If your life is affected by your drinking and the consequences are mounting up, this could be a sure sign that you have a problem.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse
  • Drinking more than you usually do
  • Drinking in order to feel better or calm down
  • Forgetting what happened whilst you were drinking
  • Feeling guilty about drinking
  • Suffering from physical or mental black outs
  • Lying about drinking
  • Sneaking a few extra drinks
  • Having loved ones who are concerned and talking about your drinking habits
  • Drinking more than usual to get the same effect
  • Mood changes when you drink
  • Drinking more than others without getting tipsy or drunk
Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the person. If you cannot go without a drink for 3-4 days, please seek medical help with the withdrawal. Rapid withdrawal from alcohol can induce seizures and it is highly recommended that you go to an addiction wise medical professional and never withdraw on your own.

  • Needing a drink in the morning to stop the shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Mood Swings
  • Lying to yourself or others about why you need to have a drink


There are numerous types of Narcotics/drugs available on the illegal market as well as legal drugs that can be purchased or obtained legally through a pharmacy or medical professional. All drugs are equally dangerous and cause various types of damage, no matter how they are used. Drug addiction starts as experimentation and nobody intends to become addicted at any point. The physical feelings drugs induce, are pure pleasure and most people who try drugs, believe that they have found the answers which they have been looking for. The use is all about pleasure seeking and there are no concepts of danger or consequences. They are still able to use with some success during the experimental phase. If you are finding evidence of drug abuse or paraphernalia at this point, it is no longer experimental and has probably moved to the next stage which is drug abuse. During this stage of the chemical dependency, a person goes out to seek the high and all that’s associated with it. There is a lot of manipulation, dishonesty, chaos and a person usually concoct reasons, outings, and events when it comes to drug abuse. There are significant personality changes and the family is often in crisis from this stage of the dependency. Here we find the Parental Enabling Syndrome also taking effect and the whole family focuses on this person and the family crumbles as well as the chemically dependent person. They then move to the end stage which is addiction. Here the person uses to feel “normal”, often using to prevent withdrawal as well as all the chaos they have created or are creating within their “system”. The family is also sick at this point and there is utter madness within the entire family/work/friends/community and culture. Each addict is said to affect up to 16 people in their close circles.

A drug can be classified as anything that ‘changes the way the nerve cells in your brain process information’ (anything that has the propensity for habitual use and which alters the mood or the mind). What makes drugs addictive? There are a few scenarios we can look at. If a person uses a drug, a chemical called dopamine is released in the brain, this is the “feel good” chemical that is usually released in times of euphoria for example laughing, exercising, after eating or having sex. When narcotics are used, this is one of a couple of chemicals which are released in larger amounts therefore making you feel powerful. Since this euphoric feeling is so amazingly wonderful, drugs are used more and more to obtain these feelings of joy, euphoria and power. Due to the nature of chemicals, it is almost a given that a person is going to become dependent on the drug. The longer narcotics are used, the user will become unable to function normally on or off the drug and the symptoms that are experienced during withdrawal can be so unbearable that it leads people to use more in-order to avoid these symptoms. It is much like a rollercoaster ride that terrifies you, but you feel the need to do it again but go higher each time. The guilt and shame are deep set by now but the need for more of the drug/alcohol is automatic, overwhelming, primary and permanent. Addiction is described as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward”. compulsive use of illegal drugs, alcohol, over-the-counter medications and other harmful substances despite the harmful consequences. like other chronic diseases such as Asthma and Diabetes, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Addiction is a progressive disease and can result in disability or premature death.


Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant druge made from the leaves of the Coca plant native to South America. Although health care providers can use it for
valid medical purposes, such as local anesthesia for some surgeries, Cocaine is an illegal drug.

Street Names:

Blow, Bump, C, Candy, Charlie, Coke, Crack, Flake, Rock, Snow, Toot.


White powder, Whitish rock crystal.

ways used:

Snorted, Smoked, Injected.

possible health effects:

Narrowed blood vessels; enlarged pupils; increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure; headache; abdominal pain and nausea; euphoria; increased energy, alertness; insomnia; restlessness; anxiety; erratic and violent behaviour; panic attacks; paranoia; psychosis; heart rhythm problems; heart attack; stroke; seizure; coma. Loss of sense of smell; nosebleeds, nasal damage and trouble swallowing due to snorting; infection and death of bowel tissue from decreased blood flow; poor nutrition and weight loss from decreased appetite. Withdrawal symptoms include depression, tiredness, increased appetite, insomnia, vivid unpleasant dreams, slowed thinking and movement and restlessness.


Kat is a stimulant. It is an amphetamine and has similar effects to Cocaine and Tik. Kat comes in two forms – the original (Cathinone) and artificial form (Methcathinone).

Street Names:

Jeff, Bathtub Speed, Wannabe-Speed, Kitty, Meth’s Cat, Meth’s Kitten.


White powder, Whitish rock crystal.

ways used:

Kat is taken into the body by snorting or inhaling. It is water-soluble, and can be taken orally when mixed with a liquid, and can also be injected into the veins.

possible health effects:

paranoia and delusions; hallucinations, including a sensation of bugs crawling under the skin; anxiety followed by depression; tremors and convulsions;
anorexia, malnutrition, and weight loss; sweating, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance; stomach pains and nausea; nose bleeding and eventual destruction of nasal tissues and erosion of the nasal septum elevated blood pressure and heart rate; body aches.


Marijuana is made from the Hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in Marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Street Names:

Blunt, Bud, Dope Ganja, Grass, Green, Herb, Joint, Mary Jane, Pot, Reefer, Skunk, Smoke, Weed, Hashish: Boom, Gangster, Hash, Hemp.


Greenish-grey mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and/or flowers; resin (Hashish) or sticky black liquid (Hash oil).

ways used:

Smoked, eaten (mixed in food or brewed in tea).

possible health effects:

Enhanced sensory perception and euphoria followed by drowsiness/relaxation; slowed reaction time; problems with balance and coordination; increased heart rate and appetite; problems with learning and memory; hallucinations; anxiety; panic attacks; psychosis; Mental health problems, chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections. Youth: possible loss of IQ points when repeated use begins in adolescence. Pregnancy: babies born with problems with attention, memory and problem solving. When used in combination with Alcohol there is increased heart rate, blood pressure; furtherslowing of mental processing and reaction time. Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, anxiety.


An extremely addictive stimulant amphetamine drug. methamphetamine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that is mainly used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity.

Street Names:

Crank, Chalk, Crystal, Fire, Glass, Go fast, Ice, Meth, Speed.


White powder or pill; crystal meth looks like pieces of glass or shiny blue-white “rocks” of different sizes.

ways used:

Swallowed, snorted, smoked, injected.

possible health effects:

Increased wakefulness and physical activity; decreased appetite; increased breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature; irregular heartbeat. Anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood problems, violent behaviour, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, wieght loss, severe dental problems, intense itching leading to sores from scratching. Pregnancy: premature delivery, seperation of the placenta from the uterus; low birth weight; lethargy; heart and brain problems. Risk of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases from shared needles. When used in combination with alcohol it masks the depressant effect of alcohol, increasing risk of alcohol overdose; may increase blood pressure and jitters. Withdrawal symptoms include depression, anxiety, tiredness.


An opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin, also know as diamorphine among other names, is an opiate most commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects.

Street Names:

Brown Sugar, China White, Dope, H, Horse, Junk, Skag, Skunk, Smack, White Horse.


White or brownish powder, or black sticky substance know as “Tar Black Heroin”.

ways used:

Injected, smoked, snorted.

possible health effects:

Euphoria; warm flushing of skin; dry mouth; heavy feeling in the hands and feet; clouded thinking; alternate wakeful and drowsy states; itchin; nausea; vomiting; slowed breathing and heart rate. Collapsed veins; abscesses; infection of the lining and valves in the heart; constipation and stomach cramps; liver or kidney disease; pneumonia. Pregnancy: miscarriage, low birth weight, neonatal abstinence syndrome. Risk of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases from shared needles. When used in conjunction with alcohol a dangerous slowdown of heart rate and breathing, coma, death. Withdrawal symptoms include, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhoea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumbs “cold turkey”, leg movements.


Prescription drug misuse has become a large public health problem, because misuse can lead to addiction, and even overdose deaths. Many people think prescription drugs are safe because they were prescribed by a doctor. But taking them for nonmedical use to get high or “self-medicate” can be just as dangerous and addictive as taking illegal street drugs.

Street Names:

Opioids: Happy Pills, Hillbilly Heroin, OC, Oxy, Oxycotton, Percs, and Vikes.

Depressants: A-minus, Barbs, Candy, Downers, Phennies, Reds, Red Birds, Seeping Pills, Tooies, Tranks, Yellow Jackets, Yellows, and Zombie Pills

Stimulants: Bennies, Black Beauties, Hearts, Roses, Skippy, The Smart Drug, Speed, and Vitamin R, and Uppers


Pill, liquid, tablet, chewable tablet, capsule, liquid lozenge, sublingual tablet, film, buccal tablet.

ways used:

Injected, smoked, snorted, rectal, swallowed, chewed.

possible health effects:

Erratic behaviour; Alterations in mood; Mental cloudiness; Confusion; Inability to sleep or excess sleep; Anxiety; Hyperactivity; Change in hygiene and appearance; Suicidal tendencies; Overdose; problems with personal relationships, employment difficulties or job loss, financial difficulties, legal issues, and psychological problems. Opioids can cause choking, changes in mood, decreased cognitive function, interruptions in the menstrual cycle, infertility and slowed breathing.


Gambling addiction can be classified as any form of betting that causes problems in one’s life such as financial problems, relationship problems and even problems with work. Whether you gamble every day or once in a while, it can still be a problem. Gambling addicts will gamble whenever they have the chance to and they are unable to stop until there are consequences. They will gamble even if they do not have the money to do so. As with almost all other addictions, they will make a plan to gamble, in other words, borrow money, steal, and even take out a loan.

Anyone can become a gambling addict

Obsessive gamblers/gambling addicts are not able to control the ‘craving’ to gamble. No matter what their mood or financial situation is, they will continue to gamble and that is how it starts to become a big problem and affect their work and personal lives. It is usually individuals that do not earn a large salary or that have financial problems to start with that develop a gambling problem. Some of the other reasons as to why individuals start gambling are; to get the ‘rush’ (feeling of adrenaline), to forget about problems, to cure boredom, perceived as a quick solution to money problems and to cure stress.
Gambling addicts land themselves in so much debt that in some cases they need to go to extreme measures to pay off the debt. It is recommended that families seek guidance to gain information to deal with this addiction.

Identify the symptoms of a Gambling Addiction
  • Secretive of whereabouts and where money is spent
  • Becoming defensive about gambling
  • Becoming defensive over money that is being used
  • Becoming desperate to make more money or get more money
  • Not being able to control the gambling
  • Ill health
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings
  • Lies



Anorexia Nervosa
  • Resistance to maintaining body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight
  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight
  • Infrequent or absent menstrual periods (in females who have reached puberty)

People with this disorder see themselves as overweight even though they are dangerously thin. The process of eating becomes an obsession. Unusual eating habits develop, such as avoiding food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating these in small quantities, or carefully weighing and portioning food. People with anorexia may repeatedly check their body weight, and many engage in other techniques to control their weight, such as intense and compulsive exercise, or purging by means of vomiting and abuse of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics. Girls with anorexia often experience a delayed onset of their first menstrual period.
The course and outcome of anorexia nervosa vary across individuals: some fully recover after a single episode; some have a fluctuating pattern of weight gain and relapse; and others experience a chronically deteriorating course of illness over many years. The mortality rate among people with anorexia has been estimated at 0.56 percent per year, or approximately 5.6 percent per decade, which is about 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females ages 15-24 in the general population. The most common causes of death are complications of the disorder, such as cardiac arrest or electrolyte imbalance, and suicide.

Bulimia Nervosa
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating, characterized by eating an excessive amount of food within a discrete period of time and by a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviour to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications (purging); fasting; or excessive exercise
  • The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviours both occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight
  • Because purging or other compensatory behaviour follows the binge-eating episodes, people with bulimia usually weigh within the normal range for their age and height. However, like individuals with anorexia, they may fear gaining weight, desire to lose weight, and feel intensely dissatisfied with their bodies. People with bulimia often perform the behaviours in secrecy, feeling disgusted and ashamed when they binge, yet relieved once they purge.

    Binge Eating Disorder
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating, characterized by eating an excessive amount of food within a discrete period of time and by a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode
  • The binge-eating episodes are associated with at least 3 of the following: eating much more rapidly than normal; eating until feeling uncomfortably full; eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry; eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating; feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
  • Marked distress about the binge-eating behaviour
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least 2 days a week for 6 months
  • The binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviours (e.g., purging, fasting, excessive exercise)
  • People with binge-eating disorder experience frequent episodes of out-of-control eating, with the same binge-eating symptoms as those with bulimia. The main difference is that individuals with binge-eating disorder do not purge their bodies of excess calories. Therefore, many with the disorder are overweight for their age and height. Feelings of self-disgust and shame associated with this illness can lead to bingeing again, creating a cycle of binge eating.
  • Facts About Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions
  • Eating is controlled by many factors, including appetite, food availability, family, peer and cultural practices, and attempts at voluntary control. Eating disorders involve serious disturbances in eating behaviour, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating, as well as feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.
  • Researchers are investigating how and why initially voluntary behaviours, such as eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, at some point move beyond control in some people and develop into an eating disorder. Studies on the basic biology of appetite control and its alteration by prolonged overeating or starvation have uncovered enormous complexity, but in the long run have the potential to lead to new pharmacologic treatments for eating disorders.
  • Eating disorders are not due to a failure of will or behaviour; rather, they are real, treatable medical illnesses in which certain maladaptive patterns of eating take on a life of their own. The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third type, binge-eating disorder, has been suggested but has not yet been approved as a formal psychiatric diagnosis.
  • Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. In addition, people who suffer from eating disorders can experience a wide range of physical health complications, including serious heart conditions and kidney failure, which may lead to death. Recognition of eating disorders as real and treatable diseases, therefore, is critically important.
  • Females are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder are male.



The symptoms of sex addiction are described as:
  • Compulsive searching for many partners
  • Compulsive fixation on an unavailable partner
  • Compulsive / excessive masturbation
  • Compulsive love relationships
  • Compulsive sexuality in a relationship
Excessive behaviours of Sex Addiction may include:
  • Masturbation
  • Repeated affairs
  • Pornography
  • Chat rooms
  • Many unknown partners
  • Unsafe sex
  • Sexualisation, objectification of partner
  • Strip clubs
  • Sexual aversion
  • Prostitution

Many recovering sex addicts admit that their unhealthy acting out sexually and how they used sex had become progressive over time. It may have started with excessive masturbation, porn, or relationships, yet, progressing to deep or dangerous behaviours.

Consequences of Sexual Addiction

The essence of sexual and all other addictions is the individual’s experience of the feelings of powerlessness of their compulsive and obsessive behaviour, resulting unmanageability within their lives. Complete loss of control is experienced and this results in having deal with feelings of, pain and self-loathing. Then they feel complete shame and guilt. The sex addict has repeatedly attempted to stop – often to no avail. Still progressively deteriorating and this often leads to the unmanageability of sex addict’s lives can become the major consequences of this addiction which deeply affects their lives in a negative way:

  • Ruining relationships
  • Problems at work
  • Arrests and convictions due to behaviour
  • Financial problems
  • A loss of interest in life areas that do not involve sex



For some people who are having difficulty coping with problems in their lives they go to extreme measures such as cutting themselves, abusing themselves, and inflicting violence on themselves. This is because they would rather feel physical pain than have to deal with emotional pain as it is too unbearable. They become addicted to hurting themselves as they feel some form of relief from it. Self-harm releases endorphins to counter act the pain, thus resulting in the addiction.
It would be wrong to say that there is one reason as to why people would rather inflict physical pain on themselves than deal with the emotional pain. Many people that are addicted to harming themselves are usually depressed and are therefore already in a bad place so harming themselves seems like a logical solution to their problems.

Get help before it’s too late
The signs that a loved one is hurting themselves are as follows:
  • Scars that cannot be explained
  • Blood on items of clothing or tissues
  • The person is in possession of sharp objects
  • Accidents happening often
  • Wearing long sleeves and long pants often if not all the time
  • Being isolated for a long time
  • Irritability

Self harm may be a way of dealing with problems but the after effects and the long-term effects will just make things worse. In most cases, self-harm is not a suicide attempt.

The after effects
Some of the effects are:
  • Feeling shameful and guilty afterwards
  • Keeping secrets will lead to loneliness
  • It is possible to seriously injure yourself
  • You don’t actually learn how to deal with issues
  • It is an addiction therefore stopping becomes a problem

For further reading on Addiction, please view our downloadble PDF below.

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