Once again, realize that any outcome based around other people is always out of your control, no matter how perfect the plan seems to
be. Learn how to detach. It could be anything from watching a movie and practicing yoga, to walking on the beach or taking a stroll
through nature. Give yourself permission to do these things. There is a difference between selfish and self-care; recognizing the difference
can help keep you stable during times of emotional duress.
If you are able to recognize emotional intensity and use “I” statements to lead conversations, many of your basic relationship problems
may dissolve. Throw in some healthy coping strategies for good measure and you’ll be sure to practice detachment, rather than
unhealthy and avoidant behaviors. On occasion, however, you won’t be able to leave a room, as the person you are face to face with will
not want to end the conversation. So, what can you do?
You can utilize something called DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) for de-escalation. It’s something we educate any family on when
they come through our doors. Here’s one DBT technique, for example: if you were to stop and just name 5 things in the room… a chair, a
dog, an apple, a pencil, and a table, you would find that this can help to mentally de-escalate yourself if you are experiencing intense
feelings of anger or fear (such as trembling “seeing red”, flushing, and increased heart rate). DBT therapy methods are something that
we utilize at The Blanchard Institute due to their efficacy in treating dual-diagnosis disorders.
This is especially important when we deal with clients who are in early recovery, as their frontal cortex is still recovering from months
(or years) of damage due to substance and alcohol use. It’s even more important when we talk with families, as we need to repair the
entire family system, not just the person affected with substance use disorder. It wouldn’t make sense to get the client healthy and then
return them to a dysfunctional household. Recovery from substance use disorder needs to be a group effort.
The thing to keep in mind is this: you are not in control of someone else’s emotions or behaviors. With that being said, there is no way
to know how someone else is going to interpret your behaviors or statements. We have no control over how someone is going to react
to what we say.
When we start operating from a place of love, rather than desire and fear, we can accomplish much more. As hard as it is to detach and
set boundaries, it is one of the healthiest things that families can do to repair the damage done by the disease of addiction. Healthy
detachment looks like: “I love you and I want you to get better, but I cannot continue to support you if you are using drugs in this household.
We are worried and want the best for you”. Clear boundaries are necessary for healthy detachment.