Addiction is rarely suffered alone. It is a disease that affects everyone in its destructive wake.
Seeing a loved one in the throes of addiction can be a heart-wrenching and infuriating situation, leaving families and friends in a shroud of hopelessness.
Addiction Impacts the Whole Family
When you’re suffering from someone else’s addiction, your life – with all of its obligations, plans and opportunities – can be put on hold. Mirroring the effects of addiction as they apply to addicts, this disease can also take over your life.
For loved ones of addicts, learning to let go of the situation will be the single-hardest step to take. However, detaching from a loved one during an addiction-driven situation may be the only way to save a life.
The process of detaching essentially means you’re “unhooking” emotionally and physically from an addict. While detaching may seem cold or perceived as giving up, the process is actually a selfless act.
How Do You Let Go?
It’s a natural compulsion for parents, family members, significant others and friends to help a loved one during times of suffering. Fighting this impulse can be an act of compassion. In almost all cases, addiction-driven relationships involve a level of codependency.
Whether you realize it or not, you may have become dependent on the “fix” of fixing problems or accustomed to a relationship mired in addiction. By participating in the dysfunction, you’ve become an integral part of that dysfunction’s ability to thrive.
The Benefits of Walking Away
Detaching from a loved one suffering from addiction allows you to experience the situation objectively. Although caring for someone you love is normal, truly caring may mean letting go.
Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, 12-Step support groups for families of addicts, view detachment as neither a kind nor an unkind act. However, the process is viewed as essential in most cases. Unfortunately, many addicts never seek treatment for their disease. Although many reasons contribute to this, enabling addiction by merely being part of a relationship can prevent many addicts from seeking help.
According to principles of Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, an addict may require hitting “rock bottom” before seeking help. For many, losing important relationships with loved ones is a key indicator of this essential bottom.
Remember, detaching from a loved one suffering from addiction does not mean you don’t love them. It’s really just a sacrifice you’re willing to make in order to fight the disease of addiction. When it’s all said and done, it’s a statement that says “I’ll do whatever it takes to save your life…because I love you.”
Additional Reading: Use the 12-Traditions to Improve Your Relationships
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