DANGERS OF ENABLING AN ADDICT
Have you ever felt hopeless when it came to a loved one’s addiction? Many of us that have lived with or loved an addict in active use have felt this way. We have tried many different ways to stop not only their using, but our pain. Financial and emotional consequences due to a family member’s addiction took a heavy toll on our personal lives. What is the right way to cope with, and deal with a loved one’s addiction? How do we do this while helping them try to find recovery?
Enablers are people who help continue a person’s addiction by not allowing the consequences of addictive behaviors to take place. They can actually cause more harm in “saving” addicts from suffering consequences due to their often dangerous and illegal action. By enabling an addict, trying to assist in their mishaps, and feeling like the help might motivate the active user to find recovery, they actually allow the individual to continue using without realizing how unmanageable their life truly is.
One example could be when an addict misses continuous car payments. This can also apply to helping with utility payments, cash advances, etc. Many family or friends feel for the struggling individual and might go as far as helping them make their payments to keep them above water. This actually is very destructive to an addict in the grips of addiction. It is so tough when we watch someone we love destroy their lives in front of our eyes. However, we have learned painstakingly that financial enablement places a safety net over the “bottom” that most addicts need to reach to find sobriety.
Another major shortcoming of enablers is when they ignore or allow addicts to act out on their addiction. Many enablers have allowed a loved one to steal from them, use illicit substances in their home, and not given them any consequences. Many also felt if they ignored the problem it would be a “phase” and go away. Avoiding confrontation is another way of enabling an addict to run rampant in their disease.
With no outside consequences, the addict feels no reason to ever stop using. He/she learns to further manipulate those enablers to carry them through all their unmanageability. The addict needs to feel that there are no options left and must change in order to continue living.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF I AM AN ENABLER
If you believe you might be enabling a loved one’s addiction, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you often cover up, or make excuses for a loved one’s addiction?
- Have you paid debts for an individual who has spent their money on drugs/alcohol?
- Have you avoided calling the addict out on their behavior to avoid confrontation?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are you have been enabling someone to continue their self-destructive behavior.
CHANGING ENABLING BEHAVIOR
Quitting enabling can almost be as difficult as quitting drugs and alcohol. It can actually become an addiction in itself. So much so, that there are 12-step meetings guided directly about this matter. The desire for control over the addict can be so great that many enablers have a very hard time letting go. Most of this enabling is obviously, fear-based. The fear of what will happen to our loved one when we don’t try and control their whole life.
One of the first boundaries that needs to be set is that under no circumstance will we give the addict any more money. We will not clean up after them, bail them out, wake them up for work, and all of the other things that we do to make sure they don’t make a complete mess of their lives. Ultimatums are necessary to prove that we will not enable anymore. Many times, we need to make assertive demands that end in a certain “or else.” Many times, that “or else” can be to attend a substance abuse treatment facility.
SEEKING TREATMENT HELP
Just because we try to no longer enable the addict does not mean we can’t help them. There are so many options out there for treatment and many of us don’t know where to turn. We at Treatment Center Help specialize in helping people find facilities that best fit their needs. Don’t enable and don’t wait. A loved one’s life is at risk! Call us today 1-844-828-9288 .
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