Addicted to addiction (and the addict)

Are you addicted to addiction? Learn more about co-addiction and how to stop being addicted to the addict here.

3
minute read

Addicted to the addict?

Presently, we can see more addictions breaking the surface than ever before—drug, alcohol, sex, internet, gambling, pornography, shopping, exercise and food addiction are just some of the forms our society struggles with.

Co-addiction is similar. A co-addict is not just a victim of another’s drug dependency, they are themselves an addict. What’s a basic definition of co-addiction?  A co-addict is addicted to the addict. A co-addict’s behavior is directly influenced, not by a substance, but by another human being.

A Co-Addict is Flawed

Deep rooted in the theories of Al-Anon, a group which helps co-addicts; is the belief that the co-addict is the one with the problem. A co-addict is asked to look at howtheir flaws contribute to their dysfunctional relationship.

The first time I was told that I was the problem in my co-addictive marriage, I became irate. Not only was my husband making me feel crazy, but now a group of sober strangers were telling me that something was wrong with me. I felt like they were just furthering their co-addictive tendencies by letting the addict off the hook.

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I was angry at the addict and I was angry that a group of people who claimed they could help me, were telling me that my husband’s behavior was my fault. Although it took me a long time to reconcile, I did realize I was responsible. No one could keep me captive, and at any juncture, I had the right to leave him, and I didn’t. I was addicted to the drama, fights, commotion, crisis, peaks, and valleys of the addict’s behavior. If he was doing well, then I was happier than I could have imagined, and if he was using, I felt like I was dying inside.

Addicted to addiction: A Different Perspective

My journey to recovery deviated from the beliefs of Al-Anon. I knew I was flawed. I believed a co-addict was liable. My questions stood with some methods recommended for dealing with an addict. For me personally, I found the approach was too complacent. I wasn’t ready to take full responsibility and continue to love the addict. I wanted my life back and I found the only way to break my addiction to my husband was cold turkey.

For me, living with my husband, I could compare to an addict trying to recover, and living with their dealer. When I left my home with my child and stopped answering my husband’s calls, I started to act rational. In drug treatment facilities, all addicts must stop drugs and go through detox. This approach interested me. If I was an addict, I had to withdraw completely from the source of my addiction, detox and then deal with my underlying issues afterwards.

So I started thinking about leaving an addicted partner.  Although the process took a great deal of time, I realized, like an addict with their drug of choice, I couldn’t putter around with my addiction. When I was truly ready, I had to leave my substance of choice,my husband, so I could fully recover.

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An addict has many faces, and some are so spellbinding, exciting and magnetic, that they draw us in and fill whatever void, we, as co-addicts, have. Sometimes we convince ourselves that dealing with the dark side of the addict, is simply a consequence we must pay for those brief moments of ecstasy. What we end up with, is chasing the first high, the beginning of the relationship when things felt better than anything else. Those windows become smaller and smaller and we realize we are chasing a dream.

Co-addicts are addicts, perhaps not in the traditional sense, but they are addicts, nonetheless.

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Questions about co-addiction

Please share your experiences with us in the comments section below. We will try to respond to all questions 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.

14 Comments

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  1. Natasha,
    I didn’t have to stop contact with him because he stopped contact with us. He disappeared and never made an effort to see our daughter so that part was actually easier. For her sake though I wish he would have at least tried because I can’t imagine being abandoned by a parent. there is no situation is going to be easier, the best thing you can do is to not allow your focus to be on him and what he is doing. Focus on you and what you need to be doing. Have you read Hope Street, I really believe that will help you?
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  2. Hello, thank you so much for all your articles. I am so grateful to you for publishing them. My husband of 12 years is an addict. We are getting divorced. He accused me of an affair I never had and left me summer 2017. It was only later I discovered his 5 year cocaine addiction and £50000 debt! I starteddivorce proceedings. He begged to come back last Christmas and I took him bac on the condition he went to rehab. Long story short he started the all night absences etc and I gave the ultimate question. Me and our two boys (9 and 10) and he said he didn’t love me came back for the boys and because he was on a downer from come when he asked to come back.
    He also smokes weed daily. Funnily enough he has gone to Amsterdam for New Years Eve with god knows who. We have been separated f6 months and doing the divorce. My question to you is how did you manage to do the cold turkey when he still had contact with your daughter? My ex has moved two minutes up the road from me! The boys like to see him and we have fixed days but how do I separate and not see him? I don’t want to see him, know him, or what he is doing but with the children I seem to see him daily! I want him away from me.
    Please help me and tell me how you managed this without stopping contact with your daughter.
    Thank you again for sharing your story. Yours is the one that has made me realise I have a choice and need to be me again and I cannot thank you enough.
    Natasha

  3. Andrea,
    I am glad you are in counseling and al-anon but the truth is that you have to understand why this is affecting you so much. There is some underlying issue that you have not addressed that is creating this obsession with someone who has hurt you and does not deserve your love. I think you need to really explore this with your therapist or find a new one if they haven’t helped you understand why you cannot move on. It usually starts and ends with you and has little to do with the actual person.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  4. I am a mess! I just can’t let go of my x boyfriend. Thoughts of him consumes my mind all day. He is a drug addict, but he does function when it comes to work. We broke up almost 3 months ago. One night he just decided not to be clean, go out, and have a new girlfriend. He is now on his second girlfriend. Oh, and that they are so in love. I am so hurt and can not understand how he can go to a second girlfriend already. I really thought he loved me. I can not function in life and he is having a ball! I see a counselor and go to Al-Anon. I just feel like I want to die than deal with this pain anymore!

  5. Veronica,
    It sounds like you have come to the point where you are done with the cycle and tired of things not changing.
    I hope you find the support you need to let go. There are great resources here I have written to help you recover.
    Keep us posted, I am here to help.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  6. yes! chasing the high…memories of when we met etc etc It was like a drug… and I’ve continued to chase it for four years. Life is short and precious. Time for me. Im done….

  7. Gary,
    I wish I could tell you there is a way to make him stop. There is only help for him if he accepts that he has a problem and asks for help. Please read the other articles here, click on Amanda Andruzzi and all of my articles will come up, especially read “8 signs you are a co-addict,” “Zero Tolerance for Drug Abuse: Lessons for Families,” and “Helping Your Husband with Drug Addiction (by helping yourself).” I would create a plan of what you need and what you need from your husband. I would confront him and give him some options or let him know you will not be able to be with him anymore. The articles will help you create steps and a plan on how to do this. You have to help yourself and you cannot drown with him. Your life and possibly your health are at stake you are sleeping with him still. You are not letting him down, you are simply making sure you are okay. It is not our responsibility to run another person’s life. If every loved one could fix an addict, then we would not have so many addicts. Addicts have to come to the realization on their own. I hope this helps, keep me posted.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the video trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  8. I married my husband 18 months ago after 7 years of simple happiness. His father died and we both started using drugs, I stopped but he won’t. He wants a divorce and spends days with his friends who all use, deal and engage in sexual activity. I hate living this way and even though he is so nasty and occasionally aggressive I can’t leave him. I feel like I’m letting him down if I walk away. I fear he may end up dead. Please help

  9. Cintra,
    You are not hopeless, it only feels that way right now. When a relationship ends, especially with a person who you love so much but then becomes so toxic, this can be heartbreaking. There is no real closure and the feeling that if they could simply stop the addiction, you would be happy with them again.
    Those feelings are normal, especially when there is not closure to a relationship. However, it is much deeper than that. There is more going on than just being sad over the loss of a love. There is pain, hurt, and usually issues that have more to do with us, the co-addict, then the actual person abusing drugs. As a person who loves an addict, we are usually not healthy or at least become unhealthy with the life that addiction brings. We lose our self-confidence, our self-worth, our sanity and we too, can become diseases and sick over the addiction. Just because we leave, it does not always stop.
    We need help to, just like an addict does to recover and to heal ourselves.
    Cintra, you need to look at yourself and realize why this hurts so much, why you would want someone back who is actively abusing drugs instead of being with you and someone who is sick. These are questions you can now learn the answers to with some support (therapist, group support, self discovery) and knowing the answers might make the pain go away. Educating yourself on what has gone wrong with you and making it right may help you in the long run be happier and healthier and allow those same types of relationships in your life.
    Please pick up my book, Hope Street. It is my memoir of a very sad time in my life. I could not leave or give up on my crack-addicted husband, I traced his phone, tracked his credit cards, anything to try and control him or stay in touch. I know what you are going through, believe me. But the book ends with hope and that is why it has been helpful to other women and individuals going through this. The key Cintra, is to start worrying about yourself and looking in the mirror to figure out what you need to do for you.
    Keep me posted.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from a co-addict

  10. I have left my addicted husband who is still using but I find myself still wanting him I don’t know how to let go . I live with my kids away from him but I still call even though he never answers he lives at his parents and I use this as a excuse to see him I am hopeless

  11. Brandi and John,
    Leaving is the hardest thing to do with an addict and is usually the very last resort. If you have children then I can speak frankly as a mother; it is a good idea to leave your husband. Your children may be seriously harmed by watching their father use drugs in the home, be high in front of them, or perhaps come across a used needle or pills. It takes a ton of courage to get up and walk away and be a single mother but you owe it to yourself and your children to heal, to have peace and to not be responsible for the misery of another person’s problems, even if it is your husband. Most addicts hit their own bottom and what you do or how much you have to suffer usually has nothing to do with it.
    You can only help yourself and your children and become healthier and stronger and move on. The worst that can happen is that you leave and he gets better. I went through a similar situation, my book Hope Street, is a memoir of my journey with my addicted spouse. Either way, find support, know it may not be easy but that if you leave this situation, you have a chance to have a happy normal life–and if you stay in it, you may not.
    Best,
    Amanda Andruzzi

  12. Brandi,
    If you leave the worst that can happen is he gets better or worse and you have an option of if he can be in your life. By leaving you can clear your head, breath, and see how you feel living a life without addiction. It is tough, very tough at first but I think you will find that it is the best decision you ever made. Please read my newer article co-addiction get angry! It may help you look at your situation in a different light. It is hard to make decisions when you are in the situation and outside help from those who have already been there may be helpful.
    Amanda Andruzzi

  13. Hello Brandi. You can attend Al-Anon or Narc-Anon or other similar support groups. You can seek counseling. Or you can plan an intervention with a specialist. During an intervention, you address the drug use and ask that he seeks help. You line up drug addiction treatment for him, but if he doesn’t go….you leave. OR set up other consequences. You can find a clinical psychologist who can help you here: http://locator.apa.org/

  14. I have been with my husband since we were 15 he is shooting up. And I have found him in our bathroom almost dead I love him but I can’t keep putting myself and our kids through this. What can I do. Brandi

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