Addictive Agents

If you're reading this it probably means that you or someone you love is already involved in or considering joining a Twelve Step program of recovery. We embark on recovery as a means of seeking freedom from anyone or more of a number of addictive agents. Addictive agents are those persons or things on which we form an excessive dependency. The catalog of addictive agents includes:

Alcohol or drugs

Work, achievement, and success

Money addictions, such as overspending, gambling, hoarding

Control addictions, especially if they surface in personal, sexual, family, and business relationships

Food addictions

Sexual addictions

Approval dependency (the need to please people)

Rescuing patterns toward other persons

Dependency on toxic relationships (relationships that are damaging and hurtful)

Physical illness (hypochondria)

Exercise and physical conditioning

Cosmetics, clothes, cosmetic surgery, trying to look good on the outside

Academic pursuits and excessive intellectualizing religiosity or religious legalism (preoccupation with the form and the rules and regulations of religion, rather than benefiting from the real spiritual message)

General perfectionism

Cleaning and avoiding contamination and other obsessive-compulsive symptoms

Organizing, structuring (the need always to have everything in its place)


Most of us can see ourselves somewhere in this list. And all of us can benefit from the truths that emerge from the Twelve-Step Recovery, because all of us are, to some degree, codependent. What does that mean? We define codependency as being an effort to control interior feelings by manipulating people, things, and events on the outside.