DETACH: Don’t.Even.Think.About.Changing.Him/Her.

“How can I best help the alcoholic? By not interfering when he gets into difficulties. I must detach myself from his shortcomings, neither making up for them nor criticizing them. Let me learn to play my own role, and leave his to him. If he fails in it, the failure is not mine, no matter what others may think or say about it.” One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, pg.29)

For mothers of addicts, detachment is one of the hardest tools to use. We are inevitably joined through years of raising, nurturing and loving our children as best we could. And when things go so horribly wrong as they do with drug addiction, it’s only natural to question ourselves and how we raised them. Self-blame is common, as we take on too much responsibility for our child’s illness. I myself overcompensated where I shouldn’t have. I felt guilty and that guilt crippled my judgment. I became an enabler, and that prevented Angie from learning from the consequences of her (drug-induced) behavior.

Thankfully, I’ve had years of recovery work to learn how to detach from the pain of watching my daughter self-destruct. I did send her to several rehabs and hoped that a sound upbringing and family love would turn her life around. But ultimately the choice to recover (or not) is hers alone.

I wish I had the power to change her. I wish things were different. But I have two other children who were raised the same way, and they are blessings in my life. I’ve stopped blaming myself, and I’ve learned to accept a situation I don’t have the power to change.

I detach. I move away from obsessing about the pain of losing her. And I focus on the many good things that remain. When I try to keep my attitude positive, my life works better for me.




4 thoughts on “DETACH: Don’t.Even.Think.About.Changing.Him/Her.

  1. I wish I knew what to do when my addicted son terrorizes me to get money from me. The other day he broke a large flat-screen TV and dented my car by throwing an object at it. Usually, though, I give in and cough up the money before his threats turn into actions. He doesn’t hurt me physically but his behavior becomes violent (towards objects and my house) if I don’t give him money. I am afraid to call the police most of the time, and besides they can’t do anything about threats. This has been going on daily for 3 years. I live alone with him, and I’ve demanded that he move out of my house but he pays no attention (and he has nowhere to go, having lost all his friends and his girlfriend and even his father won’t take him in). I had him evicted a few months ago, but he threatened suicide and I foolishly let him back in. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Years ago when Angie was on meth, I was afraid of what she might do to me. The drugs had changed her personality and she was no longer my daughter. Realizing this, I kicked her out, and luckily she went. The cruelty of drug addiction is that it robs our children of themselves and they become strangers to us. Try to accept the reality of this, as hard as it is, and separate from your son.
      I was where you are 17 years ago: I was at the end of my rope. My counselor told me to join Al-Anon and I thank God that I did. I slowly got my life back in those rooms. I highly recommend you try going to a few meetings. You will pick up coping skills there that will help you deal with your son.
      Blessings and Hugs to you!

        1. Best of luck, SS. With an open mind and heart, changing our attitudes and changing our behavior comes easier to us. And the miracles of recovery just keep coming! Sending hugs, Marilea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.