If attachment is the cause of suffering, then detachment is the path out of suffering.
Here are five detachments parents of adult child addicts must make:
1. Detach from the thought you caused the addiction. End any and every sense of self-blame! Don’t buy into the the false view that you were a bad parent, a negligent parent, inattentive, etc. Addiction is the result of choices and actions your adult child makes and continues to make. He/she is solely responsible for the addiction not you as the parent.
2. Detach from the thought that you can cure the addict. This is magical thinking from early parenting years when it was possible to kiss away an injury. If you persist in the belief you can “cure” or “help” the addict you simply become an enabler, a parent who removes the natural consequences to the addict of his or her behavior. All 12 step programs and professional therapists stress the reality that it is only when an addict fully experiences the damaging consequences of his/her behavior that the powerful incentive to change emerges. Getting there is described as “hitting the bottom.”
3. Detach from the thought that you can convert the addict. This is tempting, to be sure. Dragging an adult child to a religious service, meditation group, yoga class, etc., will likely be an exercise in futility. Any conversion will only take place when the addict is ready, willing and takes the first step on his/her own.
4. Detach from the thought that you can control the addict. If your child refuses help, you must learn to accept his/her decision. There is no way you can force health and sobriety upon him/her. The best you can do is make sure your child knows what resources are available to him/her should they decide to help themsleves.
Yes, detachment is hard. It causes fright but it’s right . . . for you . . . for your adult child addict.
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