How to Love an Addict With Emotional Detachment

Updated on October 5, 2019
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Through her passion for writing and coaching, Rachael shares her experience and support in the journey of loving an addict.

It's important to take care of your own mental health when loving an addict.
It's important to take care of your own mental health when loving an addict. | Source

Living with an addict is emotionally taxing. There are no two ways about it.

If you have had an addict in your life for any period of time you will no doubt have felt a whole range of emotions—anger, disappointment, guilt, embarrassment, shame, anxiety, disgust, and resentment, along with a host of other feelings and emotions.

We blame our addict for the fact we have to endure these feelings and believe that the only thing that will help, is them changing.

We give them power over our emotional balance and we become victims.

What Is Emotional Detachment?

For the sake of maintaining your sanity, rebuilding your self-esteem and reducing the amount of stress your loved one’s addiction brings into your life, it is important for you to actively protect your emotional health.

Practicing detachment is an important tool that ensures you don't become a helpless victim overcome by the negative consequences triggered by the addiction of your loved one.

First of all, know that it is not wrong to be upset by your addict's behavior and actions. I'm not expecting you to pretend that you're not affected by their activities, but I am encouraging you to choose to when and how to react and to learn to express yourself in a way that honors you, first and foremost, and restores your control over what YOU experience.

How to Detach From Your Addict

Detachment does not mean being unkind or ignoring and isolating your addict. It is about setting boundaries and engaging with them in a way that honors YOU and YOUR recovery.

Detachment doesn't mean that you no longer care, but it does mean you remove yourself from engaging emotionally with destructive behavior and blindly following your addict's negative emotional cues.

Detachment means unwrapping yourself emotionally from the damaging aspects of your involvement with your addict.

Detachment means regaining control over your emotions and taking responsibility for how you respond instead of giving that power to your addict.

Ways to Practice Detachment

  • Don't save your addict from the situations they find themselves in.
  • Let them experience embarrassment, shame, guilt, and mistakes.
  • Don't feel guilty or bad for the circumstances your addict is in. Know that it's not your fault.
  • Don't engage in emotionally charged conversations with your addict.
  • Choose to walk away with respect rather than react to negative situations.
  • Set physical and emotional boundaries to protect your time and space.
  • Practice saying no to requests for money, loans, borrowing of items, and help to sort out problems.
  • Avoid discussing the details of their addiction or questioning them about their behaviors and activities

Setting Boundaries

Without emotional outbursts, accusations and FBI scale interrogations your addict won't have anyone to look towards or blame for his actions. You won't be giving them any fuel for the fire that their addiction feeds off.

And it loves to feed off drama.

Perhaps you're saying to yourself, If I don't make it clear that what they're doing is wrong, won't they just continue? Let's be honest, whether you choose to detach or remain engaged, your addict will only stop when they're ready, not because of how you react to what they're doing.

So why not conduct yourself from a place of integrity and in turn have some kind of control over the level of emotional stress you experience?

Practicing detachment is for you, not your addict. It's for the sake of your mental and emotional health, not for making your addict's life easier.

Initially it will take a fair bit of effort on your part to not get caught up in the emotional games that addiction loves to play but, if you keep practicing detachment, it will become easier and in turn, so will your journey towards recovery.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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