What is detachment?
Simply put, detachment is letting go. Detachment is what your family and friends practice when they stop enabling your addictive behaviors and begin to focus on their own health and happiness. Enabling behaviors can include:
- lying for the addict to protect his or her reputation with employers or friends
- assuming more responsibility around home or work to make up for the addict’s lack of contribution
- denying that the problem exists
- accepting blame for the addict’s behavior
- withdrawing physically or emotionally because of the stress caused by living with the addict
- continuing to support and be there for the addict, even when this person has become physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive
It is critical to your recovery that your family members begin to detach from your addictive behaviors. Often they feel personally responsible for holding things together, no matter how bad your behavior, tending to believe that love demands this of them. Detachment will help them realize that they are not responsible for your drinking or drug use.
If you return to the same enabling environment that contributed to your disease, then you risk a relapse or an eventual return to use. But if your family members learn to detach, they will no longer be enabling you to continue to use or to carry on addictive behaviors without harsh consequences.
Detachment does not mean that your family and friends no longer love you. Rather, it means that they now choose to manifest their love in a positive rather than negative way.