Detachment Means Letting Go of Someone Else's Alcohol Problem

Detachment Is Part of the Al-Anon Program

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For the friends and family of the alcoholic, detachment means letting go of someone else's problem. The key to serenity is finding the wisdom to know the difference between what you can and cannot change.

The first time a friend or family member of an alcoholic hears the following words, read at the opening of virtually every Al-Anon meeting, they seem too good to be true. It's said,  "... we discover that no situation is really hopeless, and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not."

Detachment and Your Happiness

If you've spent years living with the progressive disease of alcoholism destroying your family and tried everything possible to keep the situation from growing worse, the thought that finding happiness while the drinking continues seems inconceivable.

Chances are happiness seems like an unrealistic goal, something that only make-believe families on television shows have. For the alcoholic family, reality can become one crisis after another, including, heartache, stress, pressure, and emotional turmoil.

But those who hang around Al-Anon long enough find out that the opening statement can become reality in their own lives and in their own homes. One of the keys to that reality is detachment.

Detachment Is Neither Kind, Nor Unkind

As the literature says, "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."

Many times family members find that they have become as obsessed with the alcoholic's behavior as the alcoholic is with the drink. The Al-Anon program teaches us to "put the focus on ourselves" and not on the alcoholic, or anyone else.

If we put the focus on ourselves, we will no longer be in the position to:

  • Suffer because of the actions and reaction of others.
  • Allow us to be used or abused by others.
  • Do for others what they could do for themselves.
  • Manipulate situations so others will eat, sleep, get up, pay bills and not drink.
  • Cover up for anyone's mistakes or misdeeds.
  • Create a crisis.
  • Prevent a crisis if it is the natural course of events.

Does Detachment Really Help?

Now that you're considering detachment, you might be concerned about what happens to your alcoholic loved one after you detach yourself from them. Maybe you think all of these things you've have done all these years to "help" will be wasted. Your concerns are valid, but you have to put yourself and your children first.

Al-Anon members learn that no individual is responsible for another person's disease or recovery from it.

As they say in the program, "It's simple, but it ain't easy." You don't have to do it alone. There is probably an Al-Anon Family Group meeting nearby where you will find people who understand as few others can.

They have been there, and by sharing their experience, strength and hope, help others to find their own path to serenity.

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