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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

How to Detach From the Problem Rather Than Abandon Your Loved One

ear Dr. Steve:

I seem to be having a harder time with Recovery than my daughter. She has been addicted to cocaine for seven years. She has short periods of abstinence followed by long periods of using. I can tell when she’s using because the signs are all there.  Her weight drops dramatically. Her health deteriorates. Things turn up missing from my house. The only time I hear from her is when she needs a bill paid. Okay, so I know what’s going on and yet the thought of turning my back on her breaks my heart. I go to my Al-Anon meetings and they repeatedly talk to me about detaching with love. I know what the phrase means. I know why it’s important to do. But I just can’t turn my back on my daughter. Am I hopeless?

No! You’re not the least bit hopeless. You just need to do some work for yourself about yourself. You see that’s the key to detaching with love. Keeping the focus on yourself rather than the chemically dependent family member. So just keep in mind, the key to detaching with love is maintaining a proper focus on yourself.

As you develop the discipline of keeping the focus on yourself rather than your daughter and her drug problem you’ll discover that the key to serenity is finding the wisdom to know the difference between what you can and cannot change. By keeping the focus on you, you’ll no longer be tempted to:

1.) Suffer because of the actions and reaction of others.
2.) Allow yourself to be used or abused by others.
3.) Do for others what they could do for themselves.
4.) Manipulate situations so others will eat, sleep, get up, pay bills and not drink.
5.) Cover up for anyone's mistakes or misbehaviors.
6.) Create a crisis.
7.) Prevent a crisis if the crisis is the natural course of events.

Where to start with the business of detaching with love? First and foremost, you have to learn how to detach only from the situation, not the person. Your Recovery is not about abandoning your daughter, it’s about not getting sucked in to the drama that your daughter creates. You can be there for your daughter without having to pay her bills, letting her rob you blind, and/or sucking you dry financially and legally.

How? Let’s start with the word responsibility. You are responsible for how you feel, not your daughter’s choices. You are responsible for how you react to the situations that your daughter creates. As you change your reaction to your daughter’s behavior, you’ll begin to notice a change in the choices that you make as well.

The next important aspect of detaching is acceptance. Acceptance does not mean that you endorse your daughter’s drug use. Accepting your daughter’s drug use does mean that you’ve acknowledged to yourself that you’re unable to influence her alcohol and other drug use.

The last aspect of detachment is remembering that chemical dependency is a disease that you did not cause, you cannot control, and for which there is no cure. In remembering what I’ve just said, you should realize that there’s nothing you can do to get your daughter to stop her drugging.

For those of you who may first be learning about the idea of detaching with love, let me recommend the following to you!

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.

Pathfinder’s Checklist

1.) Get honest with your feelings.
2.) Talk to people who understand chemical dependency
3.) Get in touch with your Higher Power.
4.) Work through your feelings of anger and resentment.
5.) Join an Al-Anon group.



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