How to Detach With Love
Al-anon, a non-profit support group for those who are affected by love ones who suffer substance addiction, advocates the act of detachment with love as a coping mechanism. Detachment with love refers to the act of pulling away from the addict in your life while maintaining an attitude of forgiveness and love.
4 Steps to Detach With Love
1. Set personal boundaries.
Refuse to listen to or be subjected to any discussion or behavior by your addicted family member that makes you question yourself or your decisions. State your position of needing to maintain a positive atmosphere and excuse yourself from the room or the conversation when necessary.
This is the cornerstone of detaching with love. Make a list of the boundaries you have to set for yourself for your own peace of mind. Important to your boundaries is the decision to refuse to be subjected to substance use or be abused physically or verbally by someone you love who abuses substances.
2. Learn to say no. Refuse to clean up after, bail out or in any way support your loved in their continued substance use.
Support your loved one by helping him do things for himself, even if he is used to you doing things for him. Love your loved one enough to let her learn from her mistakes.
If you are constantly cleaning up her messes and covering for her, she doesn’t have a chance to learn how to cope with the consequences of her own actions.
3. Don’t take what your loved one does or says as a result of substance use personally.
If his substance use conflicts with your plans, follow through with the plans on your own or with other friends or loved ones. Consider the effects of substance use the same as you would the effects of any illness.
4. Work on finding a way to forgive your loved one for her addiction and the way it may affect your life.
Remind yourself that the detachment you must learn to put between you and that person is for your survival and her to find a way to heal. If this is a struggle for you, seek professional help from a counselor or therapist trained to work with addicts and their families.
Although detachment with love is strongly related to Al-anon, it is a process that works when coping with a loved one engaged in any kind of reckless or destructive behavior.
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