CNM 012: Parallels of Addiction and Codependency – with Christine Askew

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In this episode, I interview Christine Askew who founded as a result of realizing that many folks around the world needed access to confidential, high quality addiction treatment.

We learn from Christine that addiction is an effective short-term emotion regulation strategy, and that with codependency, even though you’re not talking about substances, the mechanisms are very similar.

Codependents have triggers in much the same way that substance addicts do, and their behaviors also follow a variation of the “addiction cycle”. In other words, with codependents there is a trigger followed by a compulsion to act, and then the activity itself, and then some emotion as an after-effect. The emotions that drive codependency can vary, but the predictable cycle is still there.

When a codependent tries to gain awareness of triggers and change their behavior patterns, he or she will often experience an anxiety associated with the urge to act much like an addict. It’s uncomfortable NOT to act out with the “helping” behavior.

Schema Therapy was developed by the creators of CBT as a way to deal with relapsing from CBT therapy. With research, they found there were 18 specific maladaptive behavior patterns that perpetuated the behavioral issues.

For example, one example of a behavior is called “abandonment”, the thought that “this person will leave me, I’m not good enough.” And when a person has this thought pattern, he or she naturally has a higher level of insecurity in relationships. So when this person gets into a relationship, it can be very difficult to manage the anxiety associated with these thoughts. This perpetuates behavior such as clinging, sabotage, or avoidance. And obviously these behaviors push people away or destroy relationships, so that person starts to believe, “of course, I’m always going to be abandoned, and the behaviors and anxiety get worse, so they get into these perpetual cycles that are very difficult to get out of, much like addiction. Schema therapy very quickly helps you identify the specific pattern that’s playing into your behavior, and allows you to go straight to the root of the behavior for healing.

Christine provides a unique approach to codependency and addiction recovery, and is also working to provide some free resources regarding schema therapy.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The parallels between codependency and addiction
  • Common triggers for codependents
  • The cycle of negative behavior patterns
  • How a codependent can gain awareness of their triggers
  • Schema Therapy – an effective way to deal with codependency and addiction
  • The 4 schemas that codependents tend to have
  • How to get an initial schema therapy consultation
  • Christine’s biggest piece of advice for codependents

Items mentioned in this episode include:

What do you think, is codependency an “addiction” or not? Leave a comment below.

  1. After working in rehabs in both Asia and Australia, it is clear to me that codependency and addiction coexist and are interdependent. Even if the addict is potentially not initially aware of this destructive pattern. With the right education and therapy they can begin to become aware of connection between their behaviors, beliefs and thoughts. Schema therapy is brilliant in uncovering these patterns and the cause quickly and offers existential, cognitive, behavioral and emotional interventions that produce results. is providing a much needed service that is offering a high level of knowledge and experience which is evident in this podcast with Christine. Great podcast, engaging content, Thanks.

  2. Hi Nerine, thank you for your kind words and feedback. You’ve clearly heard of schema therapy! It really is a good therapy in that it draws on a lot of other approaches and brings them together in a way that is very accessible and understandable . Thank you for taking the time to reply