less than 1 minute read


Codependency And The Family System: Related Terms And Synonyms, Codependency: Popular Definition And Usage

The concept of codependency in the family system emerged from the study and treatment of alcoholism (Gorski and Miller 1984). In the alcoholic family system, codependency may be defined as a particular family relationship pattern in which the alcoholic is married to a spouse who, despite being a non-drinker, serves as a helper or facilitator to the alcoholic's problem behavior (Scaturo and McPeak 1998). The spouse, therefore, plays a role in the ongoing chemically dependent behavior of the alcoholic. The spouse's behavior may, unintentionally, foster the maintenance of the drinking problem by enabling the drinking pattern to continue. For example, the codependent spouse may make "sick calls" to the alcoholic's workplace following drinking episodes, thereby delaying the problem from coming to the foreground. Thus, the spouse is said to be a "co-dependent" of the alcoholic's chemically dependent behavior.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationships