When to Let Go

The Painful Reality of Loving an Addict and Knowing When to Let Go

Letting an addict go is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s not impossible. The feelings of grief and distress that come with addiction can be overwhelming. There may come a time when you realize that you’re no longer helping because you’re enabling them. The best thing to do for them and for yourself is to let go.

There is a sense of helplessness, anger, and blame all mixed into one. You may try to rationalize things in your head for hours, coming up with potential scenarios, yet in the end it doesn’t matter—you can’t control your loved one’s addiction or fix their situation.

Nobody plans on becoming addicted before they try alcohol or drugs for the first time. Sadly, certain newly developed substances can lead to addiction right away. Once someone is submerged in addiction, they may be present physically but you won’t recognize them as the person you knew before.

Ambiguous loss is a concept that has been used to define the experience when a person is missing from their family or relational roles in an unfinished, not quite final way (Boss, 2010). This form of loss can be very distressing as it often produces cognitive dissonance from the conflicting emotions created by the feeling of ambiguity. It is difficult to grapple with this kind of situation because it is so open-ended.

The Painful Reality of Loving an Addict and Knowing When to Let Go

The unspoken issue

Addictions are often the unspoken issue that everyone is aware of but no one is willing to discuss. The reluctance to call it out only adds to the uncertainty. By addressing the issue, you can take ownership of your reactions and differentiate between what you can influence and what isn’t within your power. Loving someone who has an addiction is undoubtedly a difficult experience, but in accepting that we cannot alter others, we prevent ourselves from feeling guilty for something that’s ultimately beyond our control.

Disengagement can be prolonged, creating uncertainty.

The effects of addiction can have an ever-evolving impact on a family. Coping with such ambiguous loss can be difficult to grapple with, compared to the more definite losses in time and space. However, seeking some kind of closure can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with the grief it causes. Even if it is harder to pinpoint the exact moment things shifted, recognizing a day or a milestone for what it was—tomorrow marks the start of healing—can provide solace.

Giving your own well-being due consideration is of paramount importance. Taking care of yourself ought to be at the top of your list of priorities. It is important to make decisions that are beneficial both to your mental and physical health. It can be tremendously helpful to monitor the way you feel, and make adjustments accordingly. Consider thinking carefully about what makes you feel both mentally and physically good, to ensure that these activities are incorporated into your daily routine.

Coping With Uncertainty: Strategies To Help You Cope In Difficult Times

People, generally don’t enjoy uncertainty. We strive to discover answers to troubles and attain closure on situations that create sentimental upheaval. If you’re attempting to cope when someone close to you has become mentally lost to addiction yet their physical presence is still within your life, here are some steps towards looking after yourself while grieving the loss encountered.

The Painful Reality of Loving an Addict and Knowing When to Let Go
  • Name it for what it truly is—cataloging it as addiction, alcoholism, or substance abuse rather than skimming over the issue with a euphemism. Acknowledging the problem puts the responsibility firmly in place.
  • Understand the strength that lies within you to take action and be content with the recognition that it’s not in your control to make someone else alter their behavior.
  • Distance yourself from the person in despair. Understand that grief must be experienced and traversed, not merely overcome. If you become too intertwined with them, your own progress may stagnate as a result of their difficulty.
  • Allow yourself to feel the loss and be in pain. Pretending that everything is okay when it does not deplete your emotional energy and makes it difficult to come to terms with the grief and move on with sincerity.
  • Acknowledge the situation as it is, and don’t try to gloss it over. This allows you to view the issue in a more dispassionate way, gaining a new perspective.
  • Rather than blaming yourself or trying to make excuses for another person’s choices, don’t forget that it’s natural to have the desire to be a hero in difficult times. Coming up with fantastical solutions can be comforting but it’s important to remember that these abilities are not actually attainable. Much as you may want them, being human means accepting your limits.
  • Allow yourself to grieve the absence of the person, but realize that life persists. If you linger in regrets, it won’t reduce any pain caused by the loss.

 There Is No Cure Except Self-Healing

Learning to accept ambiguity takes effort, but it can lead to an increased ability to be fully engaged in the here and now. This in turn can help save energy otherwise wasted on worrying about the past. It is also essential to allow yourself to confront the sorrow associated with a loss; not just board it up, but feel and express emotions as part of the healing process. You should also not hesitate to open up and share your grief with those who are close to you; this could provide an invaluable source of support.

Grief can be overwhelming, but connecting with others can offer tremendous relief that cannot be found by isolating oneself.

With First Step, a patient can maintain their long term treatment by enrolling in the After Care and Relapse Prevention Groups. These groups are an indefinite part of the program and help patients get back on the right track, making sure that your life and your future are as bright as they should be.

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