From birth on, children are attached to their parents through dependence for care. It occurs naturally due to the child’s needs and the parent’s instinct to nurture. This bond is strong and should only last until teenage years (or longer in some scenarios) followed by a time of mutual letting go, or detachment. Detachment is the action or process of separating (ME dictionary). If done properly, the child is empowered into adulthood and no longer dependent of his or her parents in everyday life.
Drug use affects the decision-making part of the human mind which can lead to negative consequences. The nature of the parent/ child relationship is for the parent to help work through these consequences. The adolescent can become dependent on the parent to “fix” all the problems and eventually an unhealthy attachment is formed called codependency. Inevitably, the parent becomes sick from the addiction and can become an enabler. Enabling is the opposite of empowering. It does not mean the fault is on anyone other than the user. This is when detaching with love becomes vital. It seems unnatural for a parent to separate oneself from an addict child but separating from the person and separating from the addiction are two different things. Let me explain. If your friend was sick with the flu, would you expose yourself to their symptoms and risk getting sick too? Most would separate themselves from the illness while maintaining a connection with the friend. When we acknowledge addiction is #1) a disease and #2) not a personal choice, detachment is more easily accomplished, and boundaries can be put into place. This change allows the family members/ loved ones to become healthier and the natural consequences start to fall on who is responsible for them, the drug user.
During the time of detachment, it may seem things get worse for the addict. He or she is finally realizing the natural consequences that have come from his or her drug use. Learn to respond to the drama with “What are you going to do about that?” and “I have confidence that you will figure this out.” When the enabler is taken out of the solution, the user has no choice but to look in the mirror and search for the root of the problem. The drug use. This process leads the addict closer to desperation for recovery. It may be hard to watch your addict suffer consequences from their addiction. Take heed, things change quickly and then change quickly again. Removing your emotional self from the roller coaster that comes along with addiction allows you to become healthier. And healthy people help heal people.
The reality of addiction is the only person that can bring the addict to sobriety is themselves. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Step one in AA NA recovery. Let your loved one know that you support them in their recovery, but not in their addiction. Below are some quotes to hold on to if you are struggling with detachment.
“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; Reality can be obtained only by someone who is detached.” Simone Weil.
“You didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, you can’t control it.” Alcoholics Anonymous
“The root of suffering is attachment.” The Buddha
No one should have to fight this alone. Form a circle of friends to turn to when times become unbearable. They will become your strength when you cannot hold yourself to the boundaries you have set for healthy detachment.
Lori Youngblood is a recovering drug addict. Her mission is to help others gain knowledge about the disease of addiction.