Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

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by Melody Beattie

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Is someone else's problem your problem? If, like so many others, you've lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else's, you may be codependent--and you may find yourself in this book--Codependent No More.

The healing touchstone of millions, this modern classic by one of America's best-loved and most inspirational authors holds the

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Is someone else's problem your problem? If, like so many others, you've lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else's, you may be codependent--and you may find yourself in this book--Codependent No More.

The healing touchstone of millions, this modern classic by one of America's best-loved and most inspirational authors holds the key to understanding codependency and to unlocking its stultifying hold on your life.

With instructive life stories, personal reflections, exercises, and self-tests, Codependent No More is a simple, straightforward, readable map of the perplexing world of codependency--charting the path to freedom and a lifetime of healing, hope, and happiness.

Melody Beattie is the author of Beyond Codependency, The Language of Letting Go, Stop Being Mean to Yourself, The Codependent No More Workbook and Playing It by Heart.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

In Newsweek magazine, Dr. Drew Pinsky named Melody Beattie's Codependent No More one of the four essential self-help books available today, calling it the "grandaddy of addiction tomes."

"Melody Beattie is an American phenomenon....She understands being overboard, which helps her throw best-selling lifelines to those still adrift."

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Hazelden Publishing
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5.38(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.68(d)

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BACK in the early eighties, when I first envisioned writing a book about codependency - when I was desperately struggling to sort through my own pain - I vowed that if I ever figured out what happened to me and what I needed to do to get better, I'd write a book about it. That book, I decided, would be warm, gentle, nonjudgmental, nontechnical.

It would be kind. Because that's what I needed - information and kindness. I needed help with my healing process from my codependency issues.

About five years later, I sat down to write that book. Just separated from my husband of ten years, I went on welfare for four months, to help me support myself and my two children, Nichole and Shane, while I wrote Codependent No More.

When I wondered how I, a nonexpert, could write a book like that, I took comfort by telling myself that it was okay to say what I thought because only a few people would read it anyway. I also spent a great deal of time on the introduction, striving not only to introduce the book, but to introduce the concept of codependency - the word - to a world that, for the most part, had not heard about it.

Now, another five years later, I've been asked to write an anniversary preface to a book that has sold over two million copies.

"What do I put in it?" I asked my editor and friend, Rebecca Post, from Hazelden.

"Tell about the changes that have happened - to women, to people in our country, to you, since you wrote that book," she suggested.

"Hmmm," I pondered. "What changes have happened besides the Persian Gulf War, the breakdown of communism in the Soviet Union, and the Hill-Thomas hearings?"

I turn on the television. The movie of the week, I can't remember the name, is a story about a teenager struggling to deal with her alcoholism and the impact of being raped. Her mother, a nurse, has worked valiantly to break free from a dysfunctional and abusive relationship with her husband, the girl's father. Throughout the movie, mother and daughter talk directly about not rescuing each other because of the diminishing effects of such behavior. The movie ends with the daughter playing a guitar and singing a song she's written about not being a victim anymore.

I walk into a church, one I haven't attended for a long time. The sermon is somewhat unusual this cold, Sunday winter morning. The minister is speaking from his heart, telling the congregation that he is done leading a church that's based on shame, fear, guilt, and dishonesty. He wants instead, he says, to be part of a church that's based on equality, honesty, intimacy, acceptance, and the healing power of God's love. He wants to be part of a church where he can have his own issues and problems, and where people are functioning in healthy, honest relationships with each other and God.

My daughter comes home from her first week at a new school. "Guess what, Mom?" she says. "We're reading a meditation each day in homeroom class from your book, The Language of Letting Go. And at my friend's school, they're talking about codependency issues in health class."

Codependent No More, with a picture of handcuffs broken apart on the front cover, makes the best-seller list in France.

Catdependent No More, parodying the title of my book, makes the 1991 Christmas book list here in Minnesota.

Some things have changed. I've written four more books, traveled the world, divorced (but not remarried), and paid back the welfare department for the financial help they gave me.

I feel more passionately about the importance of healing from our abuse issues. I feel more passionately. I've become more spontaneous, embraced my femininity, and learned new lessons along the way - about boundaries, flexibility, and owning my power. And about love. I'm learning to respect men. My relationships have deepened. Some have changed.

The most significant change in my life has been the loss of my son, Shane. As you may have heard or read, in February of 1991, three days after his twelfth birthday, my beloved Shane - so much a part of my life and work - was killed suddenly in a ski accident on the slopes at Afton Alps.

I'm learning about death and life.

I've grown and changed. I've watched my friends grow and change. Many of you have written to me about your growth and change.

I still struggle with feeling feelings and trusting my process, my path, and my Higher Power. I still feel afraid at times. Sometimes I forget and try to control everything. I may become obsessive, unless I catch myself.

And, despite its years on the best-seller list, the most common question I'm still asked by people and the media is, "Just exactly what is codependency?"

Some things haven't changed, at least not a lot. I still refuse to be an expert and permanently decline the title of "guru." But I'm still willing to tell you what I see, and believe.

Although some things appear not to have changed, things are constantly changing. Our consciousness, as individuals and as a society, has been raised. We've realized that women have souls, and men have feelings.

And I've gone deeper into my healing process than I ever intended.

* * *

I don't know how much my writing has contributed to this consciousness-raising, and how much the consciousness-raising has contributed to my writing. But I'm grateful to be part of what's happened.

I'm honored to be part of a movement influenced by people such as Anne Wilson Schaef, John Bradshaw, Patrick Games, Earnie Larsen, and led by people such as you, my readers - the real heroes - quietly and profoundly doing your own healing work and carrying the message to others, most significantly by example.

I've met many of you in my travels across the country. Some of you have written to me. Thank you for the love, support, and compassion you've shown me not only over the years, but throughout the rough, raw months of 1991 after Shane's death.

Many of you have written to me, saying how much I've helped you. Well, you've helped and touched me, too.

One woman wrote to me recently, saying she had read all my books and had been recovering from codependency for years. "I want to learn more, though," she wrote. "I want to go deeper into my codependency. Please write more about that."

Maybe we don't need to go deeper into our codependency. We can, instead, march forward into our destinies. We can remember and practice all we've learned about addictions, codependency, and abuse. With compassion and boundaries, we need to commit fully to loving God, ourselves, and others. We need to commit fully to trusting God, ourselves, and our process.

Then we can be open to the next step. We are on time, and we are where we need to be. We can be trusted. So can God. And letting go and gratitude still work. Keep your head up and your heart open. And let's see what's next. Happy five-year anniversary, Codependent No More.

Melody Beattie

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Codependent No More 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 158 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I've ever read about letting go of unhealthy attachments to people and the pain associated with it. I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever loved an addictive person, an abusive person, or lived in a family with dysfunctional behavior. To me, the best lessons explained in this book are 'you cannot change other people - they will only change when they are ready' and 'detaching from an unhealthy situation doesn't mean detaching from the love you feel for a person, it means setting yourself free from the pain of your involvement with them.'
Mannadonn More than 1 year ago
This is the book that started it all. I know it is cliché but, this book has changed my life and my thinking¿

I was talking to my father on the phone one day and I was explaining to him how I have no problem exercising and eating right when Otty is gone but I can¿t seem to keep it up when he is home. My father then asked me if I wanted to know what that was called¿he told me it was called co-dependence and that I should start learning about this by reading a book called Co-dependent No More. I pretty much ran out right away and purchased the book.

Now, I have never been a big advocate for self-improvement books, but I have to say that this book was very enlightening. Co-dependency has a different definition for everyone. This book made me delve into my own retched thoughts and confront them head on.

This book made me realize that I have a voice and an opinion and both matter just as much as the next person. I realized that I can make decisions and not have to worry if my opinion is what other people may think or want. My opinion is exactly that¿my opinion. It is okay to have an opinion that is different than someone else¿s.

I also learned that I need to detach myself from the people in my life that cause me harm¿emotionally, physically, doesn¿t matter¿

Though I may not struggle with an abusive alcoholic, I still struggle with the internal doubts and feelings of self worthlessness. I have learned that I do not need to immerse myself so deeply in someone else¿s life that I lose myself. I can keep my individuality while sharing my life with another. If we have conflicting views¿that¿s alright.

When I first read this book, I figure that I would not post my feelings about it because they were too personal. However, now having some distance from the book and being able to employ the lessons I have learned, I am able to share myself with others.

I am not perfect and it is absolutely acceptable for me to let other people know this. Maybe, by sharing these thoughts, someone else might be inspired to read this book and better themselves as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For many years, I was in a completely codependent relationship and did not know how to break out of it. Then I figure a way out on my own. At least I thought I did... but what happened was that I just changed the people around me and the relationships were essentially the same. After reading this great book, I finally stopped blaming other people for my relatioship problems and began looking into myself. It was then that my life really began to make a positive change. I then read another excellent book called, 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato and I began seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It provided me the motivation to move on from my codependent relationships. It is a tough thing to deal with your own issues inside but it is the only way out and the only way to real happiness. Are you ready to do some real work and step out of your own misery? If your answer is yes, I recommend these books to you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you describe yourself as a "caretaker", you might NEED to read this book. If you have a substance abuser in your life, you NEED to read this. If you want your life back, read it now. So glad I did. Wish I had read it years earlier.
khohman More than 1 year ago
A Very Personal Perspective: I finally launched (well, compared to the tentative perusal I previously managed) into Codependent No More today. The initial pages of conversations with codependents are as expected in that they are generally about partners of alcoholics. Not only do I not identify with this, but despite my intellectual understanding of the fact that it isn't about the alcoholism, I dread each story. When you see nothing in common with the stories, it is difficult to find motivation to continue. By page 32, I am most thoroughly disenchanted with the conversations, although the "brief history" of the concept and naming of codependence is mildly interesting, based on the minimal description. And then on page 36, the author inks a single sentence definition of codependency. And I begin to pay attention. "A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior." By page 37, I am interested when the author acknowledges that she is not an expert on codependence, and does not know for a fact if it is an illness. And as she offers to continue the "brief history", it is evident that she is passionate about what is and is not real with regard to this apparently self-destructive predisposition. As she goes on to describe codependence, I am struck by the thought that she is describing every compassionate human being that ever lived, every humanitarian that made a difference, and every individual who ever reached out a hand to a person in need. I am reminded of a quote that has personified me and haunted me for most of my adult life."your greatest strength can become your greatest weakness." And I am compelled to read on, for how can something so purely benevolent become something so utterly self-destructive? I know that I am looking for an answer, and yet it is unlikely that I will find one. For if I have learned anything in this world, it is that there are no silver bullets, no ultimate solutions to end human mistakes, discomfort and error, to end human suffering and stagnation, or to remove roadblocks to human progress. There are only conversations and possibilities. Ultimately, we must choose our conversations, opt to expand our thoughts, and fearlessly open up to the possibilities. And so I read on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this audio book on CD for a friend and I've watched in absolute amazement at the emotional progress she has had since she received the gift. She said it was really hard to get through the first five chapters of the book because it hit so close to home. She kept telling herself that it would probably get better soon. These experiences of others (in the first chapters) made her realize that others had it worse than she did and to guard herself against further decline within herself. Then it started helping her in ways that she didn't realize could happen and in areas that she didn't know she even needed help. She told me she had the power to withstand abuse and the faith to move forward from this book. The road for her is still very difficult but this book gave her hope. I will probably give her the second book by Melody Beattie for her birthday. I think I will listen to it as well at that point! Thank you Melody for sharing your heart and hurt so others could heal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was perscribed while I was going through a divorce I did not want. It's written for everyone. If the title puts you off buy two copies! Keep a copy for reference. You'll want to share this book with people who feel bad about a relationship that doesn't work. Fantastic, a rare find and important peice of work.
Zo More than 1 year ago
Helped me understand what codependancy is all about. Opened up my eyes to a new world. Good reading for anyone that believes they need help with the following traits: depression, dependancy, always attracting the wrong people,and enabling everyone. This book has helped me to identfy the things I can not change and the ability to change things that I can. Great Read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This books examples and/or focus is mostly alcoholism. If that was an issue in my life I would give this book 5 stars. That being said I read the book anyway (recommended reading by my therapist). I was able to glean some useful and thought provoking ideas from it. I am not dealing with a family member with addictions. For those of you who are this can be a wonderful source.
BDwyer More than 1 year ago
This book opened my eyes to alot! Would definitely recommend it to anyone who's lived with an alcoholic or someone controlling, and who's in need of putting things in the right perspective.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books that i have ever read. I could not believe how much i could relate to it. I think that everyone should read this book even if they don't have addictions in there life. This book has made me under stand that i am inportant and i do not have to live a life that someone else has chosen. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Pat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me during a time of crises. I am truly grateful for everything that has come from reading this book. It has been life changing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. The quizes in the book are very enlightening and the questions at the end of the chapters are very probing and thought provoking. My counseler recommeded this book and it has been extremely helpful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was in a bad relationship and this book really helped us straighten it out. It was not easy but it helped us figure out why it wasn't working and what we can do about it. I think the author has important insights that all of us can learn from regardless of how healthy our relationships are. If you are interested in improving relationships, I would also recommend Rhythm, Relationships, and Transcendence by Toru Sato. It is a fabulous book that will take you closer to enlightenment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is indeed a great book for codependent individuals. The principles learned in the book got me started on the right path. I learned even more about these prinicples from the book An Encounter With A Prophet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me and reading it was like discovering a hidden treasure chest on an island. The wealth of information and practical exercises offered were very effective in my life...they changed my life for the better. This is an inspiring book! Another excellent book that I highly recommend and goes hand in hand with this one, and is also very helpful is Dietmar Scherf's 'Depression: Avoiding and Overcoming: I Love Me' also available at
Anonymous 7 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gives strength and support at exactly the right time! It gives the tools and teaches you how to use them while at the same time giving you comfort. It's like having an old friend right by your side, telling you what happened to them and giving advice that's greatly wanted and needed! Thank you Melody Beattie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is life saving! When a co-dependant comes to realize that their best efforts to love can in fact hurtful to everyone involved in an addictive situation, this is when change can begin to occur. Just as it is extremely difficult for an addict to stop using, it is equally almost impossible for the co=dependant to stop "helping". The good news is that when the dance chances by even one measured step, the whole dance changes forever. This book was my dog-earred constant companion during a dreadful period of my life. I am so grateful for it.
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Life changing