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How to Help an Addict by Detaching With Love

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How to Help an Addict by Detaching With Love

April 04, 2019
detaching with love

If your spouse, child, parent or another relative is locked in a struggle with substance misuse and addictive behavior, you already know the strain it puts on your relationship. Often, the addiction begins to feel like a third person who has driven a wedge between you and the person you care about. This “third wheel” is selfish, reckless and demands all your loved one’s time and energy.

Unfortunately, when your loved one has developed an addiction, it affects your life in more ways than one. Trying to be selfless and give up on your goals to try to help an addict can often backfire, instead creating enabling, codependency, mental health issues and other unhealthy behavior. Not only are these problems harmful for you, they can also deepen the addiction even further. Detaching with love is a concept that refers to stepping away, separating yourself from the addict’s habits and understanding that there is no way for you to take control of the addiction.

Why Is Detaching With Love Important?

Your loved one may have already reached a point where the addiction has become almost an all-consuming focus of their life. Don’t make the mistake of letting it take over yours, too.

Detaching with love is not the same as cutting the person out of your life completely, and it doesn’t necessarily mean physically leaving. Instead, it allows you to set yourself apart from their choices and behavior and focus on your needs, as opposed to dedicating your life to providing for your addicted loved one.  

Detachment does not mean you have stopped caring about the person. Instead, it sends the message that you do not approve of their behavior, and that you are no longer willing to support it in any way. It involves becoming less emotionally involved, walking away from the cascading problems associated with addiction and ceasing any attempts to solve them in favor of prioritizing your self-care above all else.

How to Detach With Love

The process of stepping back is often very difficult, especially for parents and spouses, who are often deeply involved in their loved one’s life. However, it’s something you should commit to if you want to force the addict in your life to take responsibility for their actions while you take care of your physical and emotional needs.

You can start with a few simple steps that put you on the right track to preserving your quality of life, while still treating your addicted loved one with respect and love.

  • Prioritize your needs – Detaching with love involves ensuring your career and health come first. It may mean putting your foot down more often, or distancing yourself physically if necessary. You shouldn’t ignore your loved one, but you should stop getting distracted by things you can’t control.
  • Recognize and stop enabling behavior – Addicts are selfish and will often do anything to get their way. Detaching means stopping the cycle of enabling and codependency. Making excuses for them or buying them drugs or alcohol so they don’t experience withdrawal symptoms shelters them from the real-world consequences of their addiction. You should invest the minimum time and effort into them unless you begin to see them putting a genuine effort into being the kind of person who deserves your help.
  • Get them appropriate treatment –If your loved one is addicted, you should work toward convincing them to get the help they need, usually beginning with a professionally managed intervention that persuades them to move on to addiction treatment that provides the therapeutic intervention they need to get and stay sober.

Help Begins With a Professional Intervention

Loving someone with an addiction can be complicated, but by beginning to detach with love and taking the burden of responsibility off your shoulders, you can begin to reclaim your life. More importantly, you help the person you care about without cutting ties, while ensuring they get the care they need to recover.

Contact the nationally recognized and accredited team at Intervention 911 to learn more about planning a professionally executed drug or alcohol intervention for someone who is an important part of your life.

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