Late Stage of Codependency and Recovery

By Darlene Lancer

In the late stage of codependency and recovery, the contrast between disease and health are most pronounced. The untreated codependent’s world has significantly narrowed, and his or her levels of health and functioning have severely declined, while the recovered codependent’s world has expanded to include greater risk-taking, relationships, and new goals.

The disease process of codependency

As the disease progresses, anger and conflicts are more common, and self-esteem and self-care further decline. Hopelessness, emptiness, and depression prevail. The chronic stress of codependency manifests in new symptoms, such as stress-related health problems and new or more-progressed obsessive-compulsive behaviors and addictions. These behaviors and addictions may include monitoring the addict, enabling, cleaning house, dieting, overeating, having affairs, exercising, spending, or using legal or illegal drugs.

The recovery process of codependency

In the late stage of recovery, your self-esteem and confidence return. You’re empowered to pursue your own goals and are more expansive, creative, and spontaneous. You desire to fully express yourself for the sheer joy and freedom of it. As your focus shifts away from someone outside yourself, you fully understand that your happiness doesn’t depend upon others, and you no longer have a desperate need to be in a relationship. At the same time, you’re more desirous and capable of authentic intimacy.

The table shows the progression of codependency in the late stage if you do nothing and the rewards you reap if you stick with recovery.

Late Stage of Codependency and Recovery
Progression of Codependency Recovery from Codependency
Develops physical symptoms Happiness doesn’t depend on others
Feels angry, hopeless, and depressed Self-esteem and confidence return
Obsessive-compulsive behavior, addictions Has own power and pursues goals
Further decline in self-esteem Is expansive, creative, spontaneous
Despair and lack of self-care Experiences self-love
Increased conflicts Capacity for interdependency and intimacy

Recovery from codependency requires ongoing maintenance in or out of a relationship. This is why people continue in Twelve Step programs after they’ve left an addict or addiction behind. Only after a number of years do the changes and tools of recovery and health become part of you.