Are You a Misery Addict?

Misery addiction (or compulsive self-sabotage) is a hard label to own. It can be painful, shameful and even a little ludicrous to admit that we’re addicted to misery. Acknowledging the addiction, however, is the first step to recovery.

If you’ve tried everything and can’t seem to make progress in improving your life, work and relationships then read through this list. You may find yourself open to the idea that you could be a self-sabotager or misery addict.  If you do, welcome! You’ve found a group of caring, recovery-focused individuals that eagerly share our experience, hope and strength so that we all can heal.

This Welcome Reading composed by our membership might also be helpful.  Please give it a read.


Are You One of UsAre You One of Us?

Source: When Misery is Company, page 117

If you can answer “yes” to five or more
of these questions, you might want consider
checking us out.

  1. I often self-sabotage relationships, school, work and other positive opportunities and events.
  2. I avoid feeling or experiencing life fully.
  3. I often get side-tracked or distracted from the most important things.
  4. It is not uncommon for me to find or inject the negative into positive situations.
  5. I often derail positive momentum in my life or circumstances.
  6. I fear feeling too good, too happy or being too successful.
  7. I often procrastinate or delay rather than take required action.
  8. I am often indecisive.
  9. I am rarely sure how I feel about people, places, or things.
  10. I have goals and ambitions but don’t do the work required to attain them.
  11. I feel like I don’t get any breaks.
  12. I often feel incompetent and unworthy.
  13. I have difficulty changing my behaviors even in the face of repeated negative consequences.
  14. I don’t avoid situations that I know will cause me problems.
  15. I too often act on assumptions rather than facts.
  16. I resist change of any type.
  17. I get tied up in the details rather than looking at the big picture (I can’t see the forest for the trees.)
  18. I refuse (or “forget”) to take medications that are helpful.
  19. I often isolate.
  20. I find it difficult to ask for help or accept help if offered.
  21. I tend to push away or reject the people who care the most for me.
  22. I sacrifice my own desires and well-being for those of others.
  23. I am attracted to unavailable people.
  24. I rarely feel like I fit in or belong.
  25. I desire closer relationship but avoid the intimacy that ‘closeness’ requires.
  26. I am easily addicted to substances or behaviors.

What Next?

We invite you to explore this site attend any of our weekly Misery Addicts meetings and consider reading Anne Katherine’s book, When Misery is Company: End Self-Sabotage and Become Content available online and at many bookstores and public libraries.

23 thoughts on “Are You a Misery Addict?

  1. Hi,

    I’ve been seeing a psychotherapist for about 1 1/2 yrs. I thought that I was doing better with the depression that recurred & while I seeing my therapist last, week my therapist told me that I was addicted to misery. I,immediately felt incensed; one more thing that is wrong in my life when I thought things were getting a better.

    I read a little bit about misery addiction online, I feel overwhelmed with with this misery addiction bit. I want to email my therapist but, at the same time I don’t. I have a very, good relationship with my therapist.

    I do not like idea at all that I’m addicted to bad feelings. I understand it but, it is quite, weird to me.

    Sharon B

    • Dear Sharon,

      We’re so glad you found us. We invite you to attend one or both of our weekly meetings. You can see the meeting details on this page.

      We understand the ‘weirdness’ of this, it’s how must of us felt. We’ve shared the boat you’re in. What we’ve found in our recovery from Misery Addiction and compulsive self-sabotage is a sense of hope and even joy that now we know and by knowing we can take action – alone and in our fellowship – to get better. The fact that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t the only ones and that we can draw upon the experience, strength and hope of other misery addicts gives us a real advantage against the isolating aspect of our disease. Therapy and medications can be great tools but knowing that you’re part of a greater community that not only cares about your recovery, but understands, because we share your disease, makes a huge difference. We hope you join us.

      A good place to start in addition to attending a meeting is to get a copy of Anne Katherine’s book, “When Misery is Company: End Self-Sabotage and Become Content“. You can find it in bookstores on and off-line and many libraries have copies to lend. Ms. Katherine’s work led directly to the formation of this fellowship and provides great insight and guidance in dealing with this “weird” and life-deadening disease.

      We wish you the very best and hope that you join us in recovery.

      Misery Addicts/Self-Sabotagers Anonymous

    • Lea, we’re glad you stopped by. We’d love to have you visit either of or 2 weekly phone meetings for more information on Misery Addicts/Self Sabotagers Anonymous.

  2. I am currently in therapy and have been diagnosed with avoidant behavior disorder, my therapist recommended “When Misery Is Company” and I just finished reading it. I definitely recognize myself in many of the thoughts and behaviors. I am 59 years old and feeling devastated that so much of my life has been lived in the shadows of this condition. But, I feel hopeful that there is help, community and a program to aid in overcoming this half life way to exist. I will be attending the Thurs. night meeting.

  3. Glad to have found you offer this group. Would like to suggest to start a or a Skype group to make it more accessible to a wider audience, in any case much grateful you offer a phone group and will be glad to visit.

  4. Most of the questions, except perhaps two or three are a big yes. Many many years ago I bought a book on self-sabotage, but could never read it, except for a few pages. I lost it a number of times, “accidentally” threw it into the hot tub, so it is all wrinkled and, still, unread. It’s llike having the devil inside… seriously, to the point I was likely to ask an uncle of mine who is a priest and exorcist. Of course is just my mind, my inner sabotager. But if this page or the book are helpful “SHE” won’t let me come back or read (crying).

    • Thanks for checking in, Cristi. You’re definitely not alone. We hope you come to one of our weekly phone meetings. You’ll find a group of people who share your ‘disease’ and can offer you experience, strength and hope to overcome it.

  5. I have been looking for a community of this kind for a long time.
    I’ve been in and out of 12 step groups – primarily CODA and Acoa for nearly 20 years. Neither of my parents were alcoholic but our family was big time dysfunctional. Ever since I can remember I’ve sabotaged projects just as I got to the final hurdle. If I get a good introduction or a lucky break that could help in my career, I somehow sabotage it.
    Negative criticism is the truth, kind positive words of encouragement are just meaningless flattery. That kind of thing.
    I’ve just, unbelieveably, had a most wonderful wedding day to the man of my dreams after seven years of being together. The day went incredibly well – I enjoyed it and didn’t numb out and didn’t spill coffee on my dress or anything. That’s encouraging but there is still a part of me that’s saying “that’s enough happiness now”. I’ve always found sharing in the 12 step groups very helpful – certainly helped break the pattern of abusive relationships but last time I shared in a meeting about self sabotage, I just knew people didn’t understand. When I read the first page of the “Misery is Company” book, I got such identification, I know I am on to something. I just hope this group is still alive and functioning!

  6. Holy moly, I suspected I had a problem with self-sabotage as an aspect of my depression but 22/26 questions answered ‘yes’? Thank you for existing. I didn’t know this was a thing and I’ve been in a mad struggle for years, probably since my early teens (I’m now thirty). Extremely glad I found you.

  7. I am so glad to have found your meetings. I, like many of you, am working another Twelve Step program with enough success to want more. I am excited to have the chance to attack the root issue that set me up for my other addiction.

  8. I got cut off inadvertently, want to be sure my contact info
    was received. Thank you. Looking forward to connect.

  9. I’ve been relatively successful with career, raising kids and friendships. Have really faltered in picking spouses. Married twice. Both narcissistic and moochers. Is it uncommon to have one major area of sabotage vs several? Do you still have phone meetings?

  10. I looked at your websites and your programs, but honestly it looks like too much work. I’m struggling with every single one of the twenty six points above, but I have absolutely no motivation to fix this issue. I’m literally not even motivated enough to commit suicide, and hope that some one else will come along and murder me so I don’t have to do it myself. Really, I feel like I’m a lost cause. I want to be “normal” so badly, but I just can’t scrape together the energy to help myself. I wallow in self pity constantly, and there’s simply nothing I can seem to do about it. I’ve gone to counselling, because I’ve always assumed that I’ve had a worry and anxiety issue, but I’m finding that I thrive off of the pity I get, but always completely avoid all of the suggestions I get to get better. In fact, I’m trying to get pity through this post. My case, I guess, is an absolutely textbook case of self-sabotage addiction. How do I force myself to help myself, and stop all of this stupid self-belittlement?

    • I can really identify with you… especially about wanting pity not constructive advice from a counsellor. In fact my counsellor discharged me for that very reason as i wasnt folowing her suggestions. I have always found the sessions themselves fine, but after i struggle to even remember what was said, despite normally having quite a good memory. I think it is a ploy to avoid me having to get ‘better’. I have always felt that i am my own worst enemy and make decisions that lead to me being unhappy, and sabotage things when they are going well. It is not that i am unintelligent, but i seem to act irrationally whenever i have choices. I even ge tthe feeling that i will prove the medics wrong when they say that a paricular drug or practise will help. But proving them wrong only hurts me! When i am in good spirits, or a good phase, i can follow all the advice about food, exercise, etc… but there comes a point where i go off the rails and start the destructive stuff. I have thought that this was BPD but am now thinking it is more like things are going too well, so i stop doing them. I have searched for self destructive behaviour before but never addicted to misery… but today that was what i looked for and i found this site. I am hoping it will help. It already helps some to know that this condition is recognised. I only hope the meetings are still running.

  11. I am constanty punishing myself for past regrets. I won’t eat, I’ve abused drugs, I won’t clean, I’ll procrastinate, I’ll sabotage relationships and I’ll hurt those that care about me. I find it hard to forgive myself for my awful mistakes. And instead of choosing to be happy I find a comfort in the misery

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