Letting go of an addict can seem like a huge task. It helps to break it down into smaller steps, and to make steady progress towards the life you want. Here, we review practical tips and suggestions for how to let go of an addict. Then, we invite you to share more about your situation in the comments section below. We try to respond to all comments personally and promptly!
The concepts of Al-Anon
Six years before I started to consider leaving my addict partner, he had a major relapse and disappeared for the weekend. I stepped into the room of an Al-Anon meeting. I went, half-hearted, because I thought it was something I should do. I learned the terms,“let go and let God,” and “detachment,” in those meetings but I wasn’t ready to do that. I thought if I let go that I would be giving up on him. When my husband would use, I went to meetings to get away from my problems. After a few months, I stopped going.
Years later, when things were spiraling out of control in my marriage, I started to go again. I was desperately looking for answers. I saw the same people, some still living with the addict. Al-Anon teaches that you can emotionally detach from an addict while still being with them physically if they are actively using. I would never be able to accept a life with my husband if I was in recovery, and he was not. I wanted to be with him but refused to continue living with him while he was actively using.
The concepts and approaches discussed in Al-Anon were enlightening. They helped me realize that I had to put the focus on me. Even with this new refreshing insight, I felt a disconnectin the meetings. Though I realized it was not for me, I was still able to take what I needed from those rooms. I forced myself to get up and leave my husband and make a new life for myself and my daughter. I needed to start treating codependency and behaviors associated with it.
Letting go of an addict starts by finding help
Each co-addict will find their own journey in the recovery process—some will utilize Al-Anon, psychotherapy, the support of family and friends, uncover strength, or sometimes the addict leaves and gives them no choice but to move on. Others will lose their homes, their savings, and go into debt before being able to walk through the door of recovery. Recovery is a journey—the following are a few skills to help start letting go of the addict and bring you back to center.
Techniques for letting go of the addict
Break things into small steps. No one expects for this to happen all at once. Create small, doable ways, to start taking your focus off of the addict. Here are some practical tips and suggestions for how you can start doing this:
1. Before contemplating separating yourself emotionally or physically from the addict, find a support network. This can be a community group, friends, family members or anyone who is aware of your situation and will be there to help support you. Pick a group or someone who inspires you. When you leave a conversation with your support of choice you should feel better, less afraid and more motivated.
2. Create a list, mentally, or an actual list of actions you know you need to change. Pick things that will stop you from becoming engulfed in what the addict is doing wrong. For example, the next time the addict is out “using,” do not call them, instead talk to your support person and refrain from trying to get them home or get them help.
3. Every time you slip up on your list, do not beat yourself up. Self-love and care is something you need more than ever. If you had it to begin with, things may have not progressed to this point.
4. Find activities that you enjoy which don’t involve the addict. Force yourself to start doing them! Take a walk, breathe deeply, take a bath,read a novel, see a movie, or anything you used to enjoy before your life became unmanageable.
5. Walk Away! Instead of arguing with the addict, force yourself to leave an unhealthy discussion you know will only escalate and get you upset.
6. Visualize the life you want and the life you can have if addiction was not part of it. Write it down and say it to yourself every day. Every single day when you get out of bed.
You may feel like a fraud at first, but slowly, these actions will give you an emotional detachment you didn’t think you could have. You will actually feel less affected and consumed by what the addict is doing. In the beginning, this may be forced, but when you find joy or can culminate a genuine laugh again,you are on the road to letting go.
Letting go of an addict: questions and situations
If you’re struggling at the moment in your life with an addict, you are not alone! Please leave us your questions or need for help in the comments section below. We do our best to support you and will answer you personally and promptly.