Codependency is a controversial concept for a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity.
Given its grassroots origin, the precise definition of codependency varies based on the source but can be generally characterized as a subclinical and situational or episodic behavior similar to that of dependent personality disorder. In its broadest definition, a codependent is someone who cannot function from his or her innate self and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, or even a process, or substance. In this context, people who are addicted to a substance, like drugs, or a process, like gambling or sex, can also be considered codependent. In its most narrow definition, it requires one person to be physically or psychologically addicted, such as to heroin, and the second person to be psychologically dependent on that behavior. Some users of the codependency concept use the word as an alternative to using the concept of dysfunctional families, without statements that classify it as a disease.