Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA)

CoDA wisely ducks the definition of codependency in its leaflet, “What is Co-Dependency.” Citing its Eighth Tradition (nonprofessionalism) this Twelve-Step organization says, “We offer no definition or diagnostic criteria for co-dependency, respectfully allowing psychiatric or psychological professionals to accomplish that task.” They go on to describe an honest self-diagnosis based on two destructive patterns of living that interfere with “healthy and nurturing relationships with others and ourselves.” These patterns are control (manipulating others) and compliance (pleasing others).


CoDA’s Step One says, “We admitted we were powerless over others — that our lives had become unmanageable.” Alcohol in Step Twelve has been changed to “other co-dependents.” All the rest of the Steps are identical to AA’s, except that all pronouns for God have been eliminated, a genderless trend that is common in recently developed Twelve-Step groups.


CoDA is one of the most universal Twelve-Step programs around. “The only.requirement for membership is a desire for healthy and fulfilling relationships with others and ourselves.” This is not a club that excludes anyone because they don’t qualify. You don’t even have to come from a very dysfunctional family.

Healing in CoDA comes about through the twin messages of identification and hope. Members who share are encouraged to identify their codependency, sharing how it developed in their lives and how they have carried it into adulthood. The hope is sharing how they are using the Steps, the fellowship, and other tools in recovery. Eliminating self-defeating lifestyles, affirmations, nurturing the inner child, learning boundaries, and assertiveness are typical results of working the Steps.

A Gentler Way

Melody Beattie (1990) describes codependency recovery as a way to learn a “gentler, more loving approach to self,” compared with the “hard line” approach that may be needed for alcohol or sex addiction. The fact that so many people belong to several Twelve-Step groups simultaneously shows that they may need both the close identification with very similar addicts and a place where they feel free to deal with much broader issues. CoDA seems to be such a place.

Co-Dependents Anonymous
PO Box 33577
Phoenix, AZ 85067-3577
(602) 277-7991

Co-Dependents Anonymous, see also: Adolescents, Al-Anon & Alateen, Children of addicts, Enabling, Families Anonymous, Meetings, Other support groups, Steps of AA.

Updated 12 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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