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

Being addicted to anything is cry for help. Here, we challenge anyone struggling with co-addiction to change. Are you choosing pain over a new life?

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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.

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.

About the author
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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