Letting Go of Other People's Addiction Problems
Jan 2014

For the friends and family of those who are struggling with alcoholism, the key to finding some peace is having the window to understand the difference between what can and cannot be changed. For those who have spent years living with alcoholism and tried everything available to keep the situation from escalating, the thought of being able to find happiness while the alcoholism continues among loved ones seems almost impossible. However, it isn't, and there actually is hope beyond the disease of alcoholism and addiction.

Although it may seem like an unrealistic goal and something that few people are able to accomplish, it is possible. One of the keys to achieving it is to be able to work towards a form of detachment. Literature provided at Al-Anon meetings suggest, "Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. It does not imply judgment or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. It is simply a means that allows us to separate ourselves from the adverse effects that another person's alcoholism can have upon our lives." Sometimes family members may feel that they have become just as consumed by the individual's alcoholism as the one who is experiencing the addiction themselves. Programs can teach these individuals to put the focus back on themselves and not on the alcoholic.

By putting the focus on yourself again, you will no longer suffer because of the actions and reactions of those who are alcoholics in your family. You won't allow yourself to become abused or used by these individuals while they deal with their addiction. You won't be enabling the habit to continue while the individual is seeking treatment. There will be no need to cover up for the mistakes or issues of other people, feel as if you have to face every crisis, prevent a crisis if it is out of your control, or manipulate situations to try to control whether or not someone is able to drink alcohol. The key is that you have to learn that you are not responsible for the alcoholism that is occurring and that you can't change it if the situation is completely out of your own control. The common concern that many people feel regarding this action is that they begin to worry about what will happen to their alcoholic loved one if they stop doing all these things to "help".

In actuality, it's important to understand that many of these elements don't help. By focusing on yourself, you are helping your loved one more than you previously were. You are taking the focus off of them and forcing them to focus on their issues and their addiction instead. This eventually means that they have to get serious about finding treatment and changing their ways. The decision to focus on yourself and your needs reminds them that you are not always going to be around to try to protect them from their addiction; only they can protect themselves from their addiction.


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