Monday February 19th 2018

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Co-addict recovery: Is it time to get help for co-addiction?

Addiction is Addiction

I noticed something in the last few years and that inspired me to write this article. Addicts have their drug. However, co-addicts (the enablers and loved ones of addicts) have their addict. The drama an addict brings is the co-addict’s drug.

In fact, they behave much like the addict does:

  • A co-addict who was once responsible and reliable begins to disappear from sight when there is a crisis with their spouse or partner.
  • The co-addict has highs and lows in mood depending on the addict’s state.
  • A co-addict, or person that lives life on the addict’s terms, will too become unreliable, may stop taking care of themselves and exhibit some unpredictable behaviors and erratic emotions.
  • Their life will, too, become unmanageable.
  • Enabling and loving an addict or co-addiction is also a sickness.

Patterns in behavior

As a co-addict for twelve years and now a resource for other woman and men in addictive relationships, I observe some patterns. A co-addict can become so addicted to the person that has the addiction (usually a spouse or partner) that their friends and family will no longer recognize them. Their behavior and moods can becomes erratic, similar to how we do not recognize a drug addict when their addiction takes hold.

“I feel like I am underneath water and can’t swim up to catch my breath!”
“It is killing me inside.”
“Some part of me is praying for a miracle that I don’t believe can happen. Please help!”

These are the words from the hundreds of people suffering who post on my blog and tell their story about living with and loving an addict. They all want to know how to let go of an addict and if it can really be done.

The Act of Addiction is a Symptom of Something Else

The path to recovery from co-addiction is not a straightforward journey because there are many hurdles and layers to this process. Some experiences and subconscious emotions may even resurface years later depending on the emotional, sometimes physical, and psychological abuse suffered. Other underlying factors are those individual experiences which led the co-addict to end up in this type of relationship and endure years with a person despite their unhealthy behaviors. If the addict is unhealthy, to some degree the co-addict may also have been before they entered the relationship.

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The term “healthy” is used a great deal in my articles. It is meant to be relative to the individual and not conclusive. There is no definitive description of what is healthy or not healthy; however, it is used to demonstrate a person who is not suffering in their life. There is no person unaffected by hardships, at least at some point in their life, but when the hardship is self-inflicted, does not end at some point or becomes all-consuming; this is the point at which it is unhealthy.

Is it time for a change?

Life is a series of ebbs and flows and how you handle those fluctuations says a great deal about your well-being. When you are living with an addict it is difficult to navigate life, however, what we do and how we act becomes a tell-tale sign of our own difficulties. If we continue to behave in the same manner and expect that the response we desire will miraculously change then a co-addict is either in denial or is not willing to put their own health and happiness on the forefront.

Are you choosing pain over change?

A co-addict feels comfortable choosing pain based on the fact that they feel being on their own would be more painful. Sometimes the thought of dealing with our own insecurities, lack of self-esteem, self-love and self-respect and being ALONE sounds more frightful than dealing with someone else’s problems. This may say much more about the deep-rooted issues a co-addict is suffering from. If you do not want to deal with yourself and extricate yourself from the cycle of the addictive relationship you are in; there is a most likely a great deal of self-help that should be initiated.

It may be time to analyze your own thought processes, behaviors and motivations in the actions of investing your emotions in a person who cannot truly love you back because they are not in long-term recovery. If you find yourself spending time worrying about the actions of someone else—this may be the exact time you need to start digging deeper into your own intentions and what they really say about you.

As a co-addict, sometimes you feel like you do not have choices or you are unable to leave the situation but that is not true. Although it may feel that way, life is full of choices and if something different is what you desire then you can make different choices in order to set out on that new road.

Questions About Recovery from Co-Addiction

Do you have questions about co-addiction or its treatment? Do you suspect that you may be a co-addict? Are you scared of what’s next? Please leave your questions or feedback in the comments section below. We try our best to respond to all comments with a personal and prompt reply.

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13 Responses to “Co-addict recovery: Is it time to get help for co-addiction?
8:16 pm July 27th, 2017

Your articles are helping me overcome an 18 year battle with my addict husband. I’ve read them all once and some twice or more. I want to ty and encourage you to continue writing and sharing (for my own selfish reasons of course).

6:54 pm September 21st, 2017

I’m a co-addict. And I’m suffering. I come from quite a conservative family where drugs are looked down on so bad to the point where that addict is shunned. Ive been in a off and on relationship with a heroin addict for 5 years, but was infatuated with him for years before that. So my feelings for him are concrete. I’ve tried every possible way to help him. I’ve tried rehabs, medications, bribing- anything. I want him back. I want the person I once knew back. I dont recognise him anymore but I love him for what he was and all the things he had done right. Hes cheated, lied, stole, hit me. But I’m so addicted to him- I dont want to leave him because I’m so scared of what might happen to him. He started meth and I got him back down to heroin after the awful effects. I know its unhealthy, I know I’ve stopped caring about myself, I know he manipulates me and the family. Ive fought, left him so many times. But its always back to him and wondering if hes okai. I keep this undying hope of his recovery-a fairytale, although it’s impossible. Help me. Im withering away

Amanda Andruzzi
2:25 pm October 6th, 2017

Amanda & MS,
Thanks for sharing here. I’m so glad to hear that the articles are helping the more you read them and my book the more the philosophies will resonate. This is about conditioning because you already have the want to change, now you just need to exhibit the behaviors by repetition until they become the norm. It is time for a change that is obvious, but only you are responsible for making that change, if you wait for the addict to do it you may be waiting around forever.
Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, AADP, author of Hope Street, http://www.hopestreetmemoir.con

4:32 pm October 8th, 2017

I fell in love with a man I thought was sad depressed who had survived a suicide attempt after resuscitation.. His behaviors were obsessive erratic and I got physically abused in some if his drug rages. Forever scarred. Multiple overdoses in a 6 month relationships, but I did not know he returned to cocaine and opiates. In last overdose I had to have him released into the streets. I had to make sure he hadn’t come near me. Now for two weeks I’ve barely eaten it showered Al I do is worry is he breathing and asking for pictures to know he is alive. He chose drugs and the streets over me and I am a highly educated girl but bit ONL did I choose him I miss him. I dream of seeing him alive. I did not see how dependent I was on. Saving his life and being the last one to never got up on him
But he has chosen the streets and I fear his death as my health gets worse daily. I was already sick with multiple diseases when I met him.. Why did I say hoe do I go on how do I. Find me again. I am lost. I was crazy enough to believe he’d be my husband. Please help

2:49 pm November 9th, 2017

I have been a co-addict for nearly 4 years now. I had no idea that’s what I was, until reading these articles just now. Wow..
My addict boyfriend went to another state for rehab and stayed there. Come to find out he continued using the whole time since, even while being away for a year and a half. He’s back now and I know my gut feeling was right, even though his family was convinced he was clean and I was made out to be the “paranoid” one pointing out all the signs; especially with his manipulation he easily sways people with.
I went through his phone this week for the first time ever and found out he had been cheating the whole time. Meeting up with female “junkies” (as even he calls himself and others) in hotels and having them stay at his apartment and getting messed up together.
He’s done horrible awful things that ruined my life and I still stayed by his side through it all. I believed that we had a love written in the stars, that’s what he made me believe on his end too, and so I thought it was worth staying through all the BS that comes with the territory. I thought the end game might be worth enduring the pain and all the bad. I have stayed loyal to a fault all this time, no matter how dirty he did me.
But finding the cheating.. the messages to exes claiming his love for them.. it’s put me on the path to get out and never look back.
Imagining a life without him before was something I couldn’t come to grips with, to me that thought was a pain I can’t even put into words. But imagining a life with him now, is something that I just don’t want to have anymore.. The chaos. The lies. The manipulation. The anger. The instability. Apparently the cheating… The erratic behaviors. The impulses. All of it. All I wanted was him, but he’s always given all of himself to the drug. That’s not someone I can have a happy stable normal life with. No matter how deep and unconditional my love runs for him. I don’t want it anymore..
I’m tired. I’m just tired. Tired of being told I’m insecure, jealous, crazy, paranoid. Tired of being the target of his anger and lashing out. Tired of getting the worst end of it all from him- because he knows- I’m the one person in this world that knows when he’s active and that I could tear down his facade he has up for his family. So he avoids me. He ignores me. He tries to make excuses. And I play pretend every single time with the lies, because if I don’t- he will “leave me” and take his anger out on me, because he got caught. It’s always an act. A charade. A game. And if i step in the wrong spot while I’m tip toeing around him- it’s like stepping on a land mine.
I was in a physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally abusive relationship before him. So I justified staying with him in my head, that this wasn’t as bad as that. But it’s come to the point where I realized it’s worse. With the other, I was stuck because of threats. This, I’m stuck because I actually love him and I can’t let go because everything always revolves around him and what he’s doing. After finding out he was an addict, and he pulled his first disappearing act 1 month into dating, I obsessively researched everything about his addiction. The more I read, the more questions I had, the more I wanted to know. I thought if I could find answers, if I could understand, that maybe I could save him. I thought I was the person in this life made to do that. And he made me believe he thought that too. So I grabbed the bull by the horns and have hung on for dear life for nearly 4 years now, and I can’t count how many times I’ve been impaled by that bull… too many times to count or keep track of..
I can’t talk to anyone I know, because they don’t understand it. They’ve never experienced this. I can’t talk to his family because they will believe him over me. Nobody has been this deep with him or stayed through all that I have with him. His exes were all one night stands and couple months flings.
I’m currently trying to still restart my life after he literally did something that tore my entire life apart.. he made me lose everything…And he’s still been dragging me down in the gutter with him since. Every time I’m doing something to better my situation, he reappears again to tear me down. And I get so caught up in what’s going on with him, that I neglect myself and whatever I was doing to try to dig myself out of my situation he put me in.
He always come back to me, because I’m the ONE person in this world that hasn’t left his side. I seen the messages to his addict exes or the ones who’d use him to screw behind their husbands back.. and they wrote him off. And all he could get his hands on in another state, were other drug addict females.. which isn’t material of somebody who can take care of him or love him or do anything for him.
As a clean person who’s never touched a drug in their life (which everyone he’s ever screwed or dated – have all done drugs and party or are addicts too) I’m the only person who can take care of him and the only sober person who’s stayed. But he’s so cruel and nasty and cold towards me, all the time.. the moment he sees me kinda slipping away from it- he feeds me the most tiny bit of affection and I’m reeled right back in because I crave that affection from him and he knows it. It’s a sick twisted game.
But I need to take my stand. I just can’t do it anymore.. not after what I just found..I just don’t know how. I’m afraid of his lashing out. I’m afraid of his anger. And now that he’s back and I have to deal with him face to face.. it’s worse. Because he always finds a way to contact me. Even when he was states away.. he tracks me down one way or another. I don’t know what the best way to do it is. I don’t know if I should slowly disappear from the picture, and never bring up all the things I found.. or if I should just abruptly end it, so he knows I won’t be back finding out what I did. I’ve been so in love with him from day 1.. and any time I suspected anything, he told me I was insecure and jealous and made me feel like a worthless POS for suspecting things.. but now I have physical proof I was right all along, I’m not crazy or paranoid, I need to use this as my way out. I just need to carefully plan it. Maybe a restraining order so he can’t contact me, and that way I can’t cave when he’s crying how he misses me and feeds me all that BS I believed for so long?
But afterwards.. I don’t know how to recover. What kind of options are out their for “co-addicts” after going through the trauma of being with someone like that?I already have diagnosed PTSD from my previous relationship. I don’t know if there’s any therapies specific to being a “co-addict” as well?
These articles have been so helpful. I’m so glad I came across them because it’s gave me some self-confidence that I lost in his addiction. I thought I was weak for always returning whenever he resurfaces and finds me every time. So thank you for taking the time to write these. I’m tired of suffering because of him and I realize now I’m not alone with it as much as I have felt all along.

5:48 am November 14th, 2017

I’m a co-addict. I’ve even taking drugs ( on occasion) just to be close to my now ex partner (2weeks ). I feel completely and utterly lost. It’s so easy to see this from the outside but when your in the middle of it , you’re blinded.
He says he wants to “enjoy himself “ and that means we can’t be together. Yes , we all know what that means. Why do I even want to be with a grown man who is always broke , is addicted to booze and cocaine and has never truly been present in 6 years.
My father was an alcoholic, exact same behaviour towards me and I felt abandoned and rejected as a child. I just need some words to help me accept that this end , is a good one. And understand why the hell I can’t let go.

8:39 pm December 17th, 2017

Hello! I’ve been with my husband for 15 years. He is a addict and I am definitely a co-addict!! His drug of choice is heroin. I just set some boundaries, he needs to sleep in the guest bedroom and I will no longer make everything comfortable for him, such as cooking for him. I now get it that I need to work on me and not allow his choices to consume my every thought. That said I need help, as I made the decision to not involve my family or friends. I search the web, read books but have not come across the co-addict term before and I am completely this to a T. I have read some of your articles and they make sense. Any advice on the whole living with an addict and setting the boundaries?? I can’t afford to move out and pay my mortgage and he refuses to leave, thus why I set the boundaries of him sleeping in the guest room and not cooking for him. Thanking you in advance!!

3:38 pm December 20th, 2017

My life doesn’t differ from any others, my story is the same as everyones. Why Do We Have eternal hope makes you wander who is the sick one. Run away fast don’t look back. Alone can’t be as bad as this, but you always think what if. Don’t waste your life as I have married to drug and alchol addict for 20 yr always hoping , now I’m old and broken mentally and physically. I changed he did not. Run. Run fast I didnt

Amanda Andruzzi
1:04 am December 24th, 2017

Erica, M, Shan, Jessica, Tanne,
I can give you the advice as Tanne has shared with us to Run and Tanne is right in a lot of ways but each co-addict (like an addict) has to come to realize their own behavior and unhealthy behavior on their own terms. Being co-addicted or addicted to an addict and their behavior is very similar to the addict’s addiction to a drug; hard to let go, keep chasing the initial high, no matter how horrible things get you make excuses a why not to stop right? co-addiction sounds similar to drug addiction and because of that it is hard to relearn how to be ourselves and not put this other person’s needs first. That being said, we have to be ready and not just want to change but 100% commit to it. doing it halfway won’t work. You set boundaries and if they are broken you impart the consequences previously agreed upon and/or you leave. There can no longer be a revolving door, it is as simple as that.
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer:

11:08 am February 7th, 2018

My wife began taking adderall in nursing school in 2010. She is in no way ADHD but felt that it would “help” her. I regret not having researched addiction years ago. I have a high sense of pride and feel that anything can be fixed with hard work. Addiction has proven me wrong, and destyoyed me as a person, friend, and father. maybe if i had known that all of these years of trying to “help” my wife would have the opposite effect, i could have avoided becoming this co-dependent person I hate. She has been abusing adderall ever since she began to take it, nearly 8 years ago. even through the births of our two youngest children. i asked her parents for help in 2013. “Our” solution, not my wife’s, was to move into her parents house temporarily so that my wife would not have to work, could attend rehab, and focus on recovery. she relapsed quickly and we are no better off now than we were when i asked for help 5 years ago. She is no longer, a mother, daughter, friend, or wife, she is an addict. sadly i’m just now realizeing that, and that nothing i’m doing will ever change that. i adopted her oldest child. she has another daughter that still sees her father occasionally but i am who she calls dad. we have two kids of our own, a six year old girl and a 4 year old boy. my heart breaks for them, mostly because i now know that i have created this situation for them, trying to “help”their mother. i need to make things right and get moving on a path to recovery for myself and for my kids, but it all seems so overwhelming. i know what i need to do, i don’t know how.
thanks for listening-Jason

7:24 am February 8th, 2018

Jason, amanda andruzzi can help you. She helped me. ! Read every ones story and you will know what to do. It’s only hopeless if you do nothing. Keep you sanity.

Britni (Jason’s addict wife)
11:21 am February 8th, 2018

i am fully aware of my addiction and want SO BADLY to stop it! i hate it and myself for allowing Adderall to control my life. I WANT MY LIFE BACK. That being said, i feel compelled to inform whoever reads these comments that, yes, i am the addict, but my husband, Jason, also takes the Adderall whenever WE have them. and even though i know what he says to me about his feelings towards my addiction, him taking them also makes me feel somewhat like it’s ok for me to continue taking them as well. i know that he is NOT addicted to them like i am, but by taking them himself, in my mind that makes it ok for me to continue with this vicious cycle of addiction.

6:23 am February 16th, 2018

I feel I’m in Co addict ..
Actually my relationship for 5 Years
And I wanted stop before I started it..
However I’m unable to stop..
We fight always because he never Care anything about me..
For 5 years we never spend a day or half day.. Only few hours maximum..
He never make priority for my things..
Always care for his business..
Actually I don’t want this kind of relationship..
But I’m unable to stop how much hard I try to stop this..
He always says he is busy… understand him.. Everyday fake words and fake promises
Plz help me to stop this .. It is destroy my life day by y day ..more than 5 Years gone I don’t wanna hurt my self any longer

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About Amanda Andruzzi

Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and two sons in Florida.

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