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-What does codependency look like in 12-step programs (even in Codependents Anonymous)?

-What are common vulnerabilities of codependents in 12-step programs?

-How can codependents avoid their common pitfalls in 12-step programs to get the most out of them?

Welcome to Episode 149! This week, Natalie Friedman is back to discuss codependency in 12-step programs. You’ll hear about the history of 12-step programs and how the principles that helped alcoholics get sober also helped their loved ones with their relationships. Natalie describes what codependency looks like in 12-step programs and how members can be vulnerable to codependency due to an emphasis on giving service, helping others, etc. We conclude with suggestions from Natalie on how codependents can participate in 12-step programs while avoiding our common pitfalls like people-pleasing, self-sacrifice, and poor boundaries. It’s a must-listen!

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More on this week’s guest:
Natalie Friedman is a licensed marriage family therapist in private practice in Santa Monica CA. She has been in practice for about 10 years and is currently seeing people online and in person (prefers in person). Natalie loves working with highly sensitive folks who grew up in addicted/dysfunctional families.

Natalie’s initial interview on the podcast:

More deets on this week’s episode:
We revisit Natalie’s definition of codependency and she adds what she’s found on Google: that it is described as a pattern, a condition, a set of behaviors, and an addiction.

Natalie opens up about her codependent relationship with her mother, reflecting how “we were too close.” She shares how she merged her identity with her mother, was always about to “save” her mother, and felt she was the best caretaker/loyal daughter/needs-anticipator for her mom.

We shift focus to codependency in 12-step programs. Natalie provides some history on Alcoholics Anonymous and how a program for the loved ones of alcoholics, known as Al-Anon, began soon after since there was a recognition that they needed help too. In AA, alcoholics are powerless over alcohol, while in Al-Anon, members are powerless over people.

Natalie describes what codependency can look like in 12-step meetings: people-pleasing, self-sacrifice, a need to control, and having high expectations from the program. She discusses the vulnerability of participants in these programs since they are often newly sober, emotionally raw, and susceptible due to their fragile state. This can lead to over-helping, strict adherence to the principles, and neglecting other areas of one’s life.

Without addressing codependency in 12-step programs, participants are likely to end up feeling out of control, lost, frustrated, resentful, and dissatisfied in their relationships. In order to avoid these pitfalls, Natalie suggests practicing awareness, starting to read about the program (books like Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More), and putting language to what is happening.

Thanks for coming on Natalie! And thank you for being here, dear listener!

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