Treating codependent behaviors

How can you stop obsessive thoughts and worrying? Learn how to treat codependent behaviors step-by-step here.

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How to stop obsessive thoughts and worrying

Do you want to stop obsessive worrying and start to live free of co-addiction? Are you ready to let go of an addict and start living your own life?  We offer a few suggestions on how to get started in co-addiction recovery, and then invite your questions or comments at the end.

The pattern of codependent behavior

Obsession, excessive concern and worry are just some of the emotions and fixations a co-addict will experience in a co-addictive relationship. There are many ways to deal with these feelings of intensity. First, a co-addict must recognize that their current methods of dealing with the addict are not working. Actions are ideas, thoughts or feelings that are executed in some way. The obsessive behaviors are unhealthy actions or reactions to an addict’s conduct. These actions may beharmful to you, your family members, or the addict. Even if you leave the addictive relationship, you can take these patterns with you for the rest of your life. Dealing with obsessive behavior is essential in breaking co-addictive patterns.

How to stop codependent behaviors

Start by taking away one negative behavior, just one. For example, have the addict change a password to some online bills you normally check. When you feel the urge, even if you try to look at a cell phone or credit card record, you will be forced to do something else. Behavioral change can come with repetition. In time, if you take something away, you will learn to live without it. One at a time, start eliminating destructive patterns.

Small steps: Envision a plan

Do not expect that you will have the self-control, right away, to stop all patterns instantly. Instead, be realistic and take small steps. At a time where you would normally be consumed with thoughts or worry, instead sit down and write a plan. Create an end goal of what you would like to do when dealing with the addict. Envision how you would like to feel or handle a future situation or incident. Design a plan where youbreak things into smaller steps.

Visualize actions you can take to stop the routine you go into when the addict upsets you. The next time you can see or feel yourself to go into your normal pattern, push yourself to stop, breath, and preoccupy yourself with something on your list. For example, if the addict confronts you with an argument and yournormal response is to scream, cry and fight back, take a different approach. Tell the addict, you are sorry, but you cannot entertain this right now, you have a more pressing issue, and then walk away.

You will feel the satisfaction of diverting crisis mode. You will be able to fill the time you almost spent being upset or fixated on disaster, instead, with something positive. You will be encouraged to keep acting or reacting this way. In time you will be effectively breaking patterns and changing negative and obsessive actions. Your new, positive, behaviors will promote a more healthy and sustainable you and the ability to move on to healthier relationships with others.

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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  1. Thank you for your insights. I have only been living with an addict for three months and already I am experiencing obsessive thoughts, distress with worry, depression and fear. You nailed the feelings I was going through. I didn’t know what these feelings were, but thank you for opening my eye that I have been enabling and am a co-addict.
    Thank you for some strategies to cope. I’ll try whatever it takes until I am at the point where I will tell him to find somewhere else to live, now he has a benefit from government which I helped him get! Mad, I know. The latest I’ve done for him is get some voluntary work so in the hopes he can earn money, to, yes that’s right, buy more drugs. What a cycle.

  2. Julie,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am so glad you are feeling relief. It is not always easy to leave but there is a lot of peace and calm that comes with it, especially in the long run. Keep heading down this road, find support if you need it but I am so grateful you decided to care for his grandchildren and give them a safe and stable home.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer:

  3. I really appreciate your words, they give me a lot of strength and courage! I finally decided to move out of our house after all 20 years of marriage to my alcoholic husband, we adopted 2 of his grandchildren, one 7 now and later one who is now 16 months old. It came down to thinking about the children and their safety. One night while working I tried to reach my husband by text several times by phone and no response after being sick with worry until I got off work and came home, my husband was hung over and my seven year old tells me that her brother woke up that night crying and she looked for her father who was no where to be found, turns out he was down in the shop getting wasted till the early morning! That’s when I knew I had enough! I could not go on any longer with the worries about him getting wasted and something happening to those defenseless children! It’s only been 4 days since I left, but I’m feeling so much relief already. Thank you for all the encouragement!

  4. Annie,
    It sounds like he may have an underlying mental issue and severe depression as a result of the drug addiction or perhaps he uses drugs to self medicate. Either way unless he gets the proper treatment I don’t think that things are going to change. You were on a vicious cycle that won’t end until you do something about it. I waited 12 years for something to change and it never did until I made the change. The choice is yours but if you keep allowing the same cycle to occur then it will gladly continue.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer:

  5. When he is normal, he cries and holds me and say nooo he can never loose me. We have such a unique love, and we do and my kids absolutely adore him. Then for weeks he will be positive, trying to do everything snd help everywhere, and love me and we are all on top of the world. And he promise that i dont have to live in fear anymore its all over, we can have the life we deserve. And he really really tries. And then comes the down, depressed state, before a fall. When the monster comes out and i cant do anything to stop it, i get blamed and verbally abused, not in front of kids. All our financial plans thrown out of the door, and more money lost. How how how do i let go of the kind loving father that i love with my whole heart?

  6. Leslie,
    You are not broken and you will heal, it just takes time and support. It would be good to find a therapist to talk to so you can really go through these emotions and work on getting on with your life. You should be tired of this because it sounds like you have endured a lot. Unfortunately addiction is a selfish thing and what an addict will do to you is not personal. Addicts just do what they need to to keep using no matter who they hurt. In their mind and with this disease, it is their only choice. You won’t get honesty or a real relationship with an addict so it is a good thing you recognized that you needed to leave. It does get easier.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the Video BOOK Trailer:

  7. Hi Amanda.. yes I now realize u was and am a codependent . I now obsess over things about the addict. Trying to control him. Thinking I can be stronger than his addictions. I now know I can’t be. We have hard and bad and a lit over the course of our marriage. He made seem as though it was all just me and I was an art person. I was angry, but couldn’t figure out why he was doing all these thing and lying all the time. And why he wouldn’t change. I didn’t realize he was an addict until a few years ago. We did have a pattern I would get mad at him for lying and we would fight. He would blame me and that would upset me even more. Then I would insult him and break him down. I am tired Amanda. I did finally leave and am trying to break that cycle. But I’m scared. I know I take some if this fear and interesting behavior to another relationship. I was not like this before him, but now I feel he has broken me. I am trying to strong.

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