Addiction can be a challenging condition to manage. Because it does not only affect the person misusing drugs or alcohol, it takes a combined effort from everyone involved. While it is ultimately the decision of the person in active addiction to choose recovery, family and friends can be a large influence. Sometimes loved ones inadvertently end up enabling addiction in their quest to help.
What is Enabling?
Enabling is when you remove the natural consequences that someone would experience as the result of their addiction. You may have the best of intentions and believe that you are helping, but really you may be contributing to the problem. There are several ways in which people enable others:
- Financial assistance is one method. Perhaps they don’t have enough money to pay their rent or utilities, or maybe they need gas for their car. You lend them some money to help them get back on their feet. They may have made promises about paying you back or making changes so that it doesn’t happen again, but these are usually untrue, even if they want to believe them. In reality, this money usually goes toward continuing to fuel their addiction.
- Making excuses to cover up someone’s addiction or justify their behavior is another way of enabling. You may think you are protecting them from being embarrassed, losing their job, or getting in trouble, but it simply allows them to keep doing what they’re doing without fear of consequences. They know that you will be there to back them up.
- Ignoring the problem does not make it go away and lets the person think that what they are doing is okay. You may not know what to say or worry about upsetting the person, but you need to speak up.
- Giving multiple chances can also be a way of enabling. Even when the person messes up, you keep letting them try again and again to correct things. Without professional help from a drug and alcohol rehab center, it is more difficult for them to truly change their ways or know how to effectively do so.
Enabling keeps those struggling with addiction from seeing a reason to change their ways. Whenever things get tough, they know that someone will help them out. They are protected from many of the consequences of their actions.
Although it can be hard, it is important to stop enabling their behavior. They need to see for themselves the damage that they are doing and the impact that it has. Even though you don’t want to see them hurt or face hardships, that is usually what it takes to get them to accept help. Having your loved one lose their job or get arrested may be stressful for your family, but it can be an eye-opening experience.
Tips to Stop Enabling
Avoid the temptation to clean up their messes. If something is spilled or broken, don’t clean it up. Leave it for the person to deal with once they are more sober and alert. If they fall asleep in an odd place or position, leave them there. Don’t carry them off to bed, cover them up, or make them more comfortable. They’ll realize the uncomfortableness of it when they wake up. If you keep cleaning up after them, it takes away from the reality of the situation. They don’t see the destruction or damage they have caused.
Be assertive and stand strong. If they need money, they’ll have to find a way to earn it. If their utilities get shut off, they don’t have groceries, or they get arrested, they’ll have to deal with the consequences. As much as you want to help them out, it’s not doing them any good. Be honest and tell them that you won’t lend them money, make excuses for them, bail them out of jail, or otherwise take over their responsibilities. This can be one of the toughest things for family members and friends to do. It can be very hard to see your loved one face the consequences of their actions.
Make alternate plans. Keep living your life and doing what you need to do to survive. If the person says they’ll be somewhere or do something, be prepared to carry on if they do not. Have a plan B in place and continue to follow through with your plans regardless of whether they participate.
Seek help for yourself. Go to counseling or support groups for yourself to help you deal with the struggles of being in a relationship with someone battling addiction. Connecting with others who know what you are going through can help you to be more assertive, get the person help, and continue caring for your own wellbeing. They can support you as you stop enabling addictive behavior.
The more you educate yourself about addiction and its impact, the better prepared you can be to handle various situations and get your loved one the help they need. Addiction is difficult for everyone to deal with, but through these challenges hopefully the person will see that it is time for them to seek treatment. Facing the consequences of their actions will begin to take a toll and make them realize that they can’t keep going down the path they’re on.
If you are looking for affordable, comprehensive drug and alcohol rehab, Chapters Capistrano can help. With flexible approaches to treatment, on-site detox, family programs, and a wide variety of other services, you or your loved one can overcome addiction. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to start your journey to recovery.