Detaching Is Not Abandoning

image of a white puzzle missing one red piece, which is detached from the puzzle resting in front - detaching is not abandoning - no more enablingA big recommendation when trying to help families with an addicted loved one is to detach with love. The misconception with this is that detaching is to completely abandon your loved one. Detaching is not abandoning. I recommend detaching because being so hyper focused on the problem and how you can fix it only makes the matter worse. It is giving a fire gasoline. The truth is, and I know it is difficult to concede to, that you cannot fix the addict. If they are a true addict it will take tools which treatment and 12 step groups offer. In life it is easy to see that hard work and focus reward an individual with success. That is the case in careers, relationship, etc. But with addiction, the more energy and attention you bring to it the more it is alive. You may be fueled with the belief that if you love someone you don’t give up on them. That you just need to love them more.

The truth is that when you detach you are displaying love in the truest form. You are setting the precedent that you love them enough that you will do anything to see them get well. Detaching does not stop the love you feel. Remember, detaching is not abandoning. You are just no longer on the destructive ride that is addiction.

Addiction impacts the whole family.  Hurting yourself to participate in an unhealthy relationship is not the solution for addiction. You must take care of yourself first and foremost. As on an airplane, they state to put the air mask on yourself before helping others. You must do the same in this situation. Detaching is not abandoning, rather it is a way to set a strong boundary. It is a way to stop the manipulation, dishonesty, and betrayal that you experience daily. I repeat, detaching does not stop the love you feel, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t be there when they choose to seek help. Let them know you care about them, and look forward to having a relationship with them and not their disease. Express that you will support them in any way which will be instrumental to their recovery. You don’t abandon. I would not be sober today if my loved ones abandoned me. They simply detached, and when I was willing to get help, I knew they were there.

How to Help an Addict

black and white photo of two people with hands clasped - how to help an addict you care about - no more enabling -

Should I choose a residential or outpatient program? What is the right length of stay for an individual in treatment? How will you know when they are ready to discharge? Is coming home post treatment the right answer? These are all questions that families ask as they are trying to help an addict you care […]

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photo of a man drowning with a hand reaching out of the water - powerlessness

When facing an addicted individual, what’s normally seen is anger, frustration, and the inability to place anything above the substances that are being used.  It is difficult to see past the harm that has caused a severance in the relationship. One sees the actions of the individual, and fears any repercussions that might come if […]

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How to Support Someone in Drug Rehab

how-to-support-someone-in drug-rehab

A lot of times getting your loved one to treatment is only half of the battle. Typically there are a lot of questions that one might face once they get to this place: Is treatment going to work? How can I support them best? What should I say when I write them? What do I […]

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Enabling After Treatment

Shadow of family holding hands| Enabling After Treatment

Enabling after treatment is a behavior that families and loved ones of addicted persons often find themselves enveloped in.  A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working at a transitional living program for young adults who completed a long-term drug and alcohol treatment program.  The families and clients were excited to begin a […]

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Detachment From Addiction

family holding hands - detachment from addiction

A family member or friend facilitating an addict’s treatment and recovery is often casually referred to as “tough love.” What immediately comes to mind is the moment of elucidation, perhaps at an intervention, when deeply rooted problems are addressed directly and the truth is dragged into the light. Such an event is considered the point […]

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Addiction Boundary Hold: The Hardest Thing a Family Will Ever Do

Switch set to "off" position - boundary hold

My business takes me to all sorts of exciting places to see and experience all sorts of things. But few things give me more joy than to watch a family successfully maintain a boundary hold with a loved one. I put it right up there with watching the recovery “light come on.”An addiction boundary hold […]

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Age-Specific Treatment and Family Involvement Are Key

Group of Young Men | Age-Specific Treatment

Young adulthood is a period of self-discovery and exploration. Many are experiencing life on their own for the first time while trying to figure out a path for the future. Pressure to balance work, school and a social life can sometimes be challenging and leaves some looking for an escape. In a world where popular […]

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Anger Disguised as Boundaries

Angry woman pointing - anger disguised as boundaries

In my years working at treatment centers, I’ve watched a lot of clients come and go. One thing you always determine when a new client lands in your treatment center is the strength of the family supporting him or her. Quite often you would hear from another team member, “the family is strong, they want […]

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