When addicts and their families begin to recover from the mire of substance abuse, the amount of new information and changes in behavior often seem overwhelming. That’s why simple slogans, such as “live and let live”, become a valued part of the process. An uncomplicated saying can set family members back on track if they find themselves derailed by the addict’s behavior.
Learning to detach
“Live and let live” is way to remember that detachment is the key to recovery for loved ones of addicts. Detachment sometimes has the connotation of abandonment until you realize that detachment refers to creating an emotional distance between yourself and the addict’s choices and behaviors. It does not mean selfishly walking away; instead it means to act with love and compassion for yourself and the addict.
In order to “live and let live,” families need to take a look at their judgment of the addict’s behavior. Setting aside judgment does not mean living with unacceptable or abusive actions. Instead, it means letting go of the thoughts one attaches to another’s behavior and learning to make decisions based on facts alone. Recognizing the role of judgment in one’s feelings of anger and disappointment does not come naturally to anyone, but it is particularly difficult for families of addicts. Giving up negative thinking and fear is not easy. It involves redirecting one’s thinking into a place of simple observation.
When families apply the slogan “live and let live,” they begin to experience the self-esteem that has been lost by living with addiction. They see that protecting their own emotional health should be their priority. It lowers the sense of feeling victimized by the addict. A new sense of self-respect will begin to form. By practicing the skill of “live and let live,” loved ones will release themselves from the family drama.