The swift strike of addiction doesn’t just affect addicts themselves, it affects their entire community of family and friends. But, in order to truly help your loved one get through their addiction, you need to avoid all enabling behaviors. You may want to help the addict move smoothly through life and inevitably get better, but there is a fine line between helping and enabling.
In order to clearly understand the difference between the two, it’s important to note exactly what enabling is. Merriam-Webster defines the term as “to provide with the means or opportunity.” In short, if you’re enabling someone, you’re in some way giving them the opportunity to maintain their addiction through your actions or your inactivity. In this article, we discuss enabling behavior that you should steer clear from if you’re truly trying to help an addict that you care about.
Giving or Loaning Them Money
At the end of the day, addictions are very expensive. Most addicts cannot afford to keep exercising these unhealthy behaviors at the frequency that they desire. They often turn to the wallets of close friends and family in order to find some extra cash. Do not give or loan an addict money for any reason. Even if he or she says that the money is for necessary items, like food or rent, you cannot be sure that your money will be used for the right reasons.
Also, it may be a good idea to refrain from giving addicted people expensive gifts while they’re dealing with their addiction. They might end up selling that item in order to use the money for drugs or alcohol.
Have you ever made up an excuse or coincidentally lied to someone for the benefit of a loved one dealing with addiction? You shouldn’t put a cloak over this individual, so the world can’t see who they truly are. Don’t lie to their employer, family members, significant other or anyone else. Having the security blanket of your co-sign is going to push them to indulge in their addiction once more because they aren’t going to feel the consequences for their actions. As consequences begin to occur, this may be the push that your loved one needs to finally get help.
Normalizing Their Addiction
As time goes by, you might start to make yourself believe that this addiction is normal. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that this isn’t a situation that you, your loved one or anyone else should be dealing with. As you start to normalize it you begin to ignore it, and that makes determining options for help seem far out of the picture.
Taking on Their Responsibilities
If you would not have done this task when your loved one was sober, then don’t do it at all. These tasks may include taking on their household chores or giving them a ride to work because they’re too hungover to do it themselves. You’re enabling them because you are acting as a barrier between them and life’s consequences. Sometimes, you need to take away that safety net for them to realize they need to change.
Rescuing Them from Trouble
Addiction often comes with trouble. The National Institute of Health reports that “criminal offenders have rates of substance abuse that are more than four times that of the general population.” In turn, it’s likely that your loved one is going to run into some trouble with the law at some point. If they do, it’s important that you don’t run to rescue them. Whether it’s bailing them out of jail or paying for their lawyer, let them deal with the consequences at hand. If you keep running to take them out of harm’s way, then they’ll never feel the true burden of the mistakes that they’ve made.
Blaming Others Instead of the Addict
When you love someone, it can be hard to believe that they’ve gotten wrapped up in an addiction. You may want to blame the people around them for their behavior whether that be their friends, a significant other or even family members; this also includes blaming yourself. The behavior is on the shoulders of the addict and the addict alone. Addicts might even try to blame everyone around them for their addiction, but it’s important that you don’t buy into it. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who are dependent on drugs and alcohol.
Isolating Your Family or Your Loved One
As your loved one is dealing with an addiction, you may feel ashamed and yearn to isolate everyone from the addict and their family. But at this time, your family needs more support than ever. Additionally, dealing with the addict one-on-one may not be the best idea. According to the Association of Intervention Specialists, dealing with the addict in groups of people at a time can reduce pressure and manipulation.
Not Prioritizing Treatment
Making the decision to encourage your loved one to get help can be a daunting task. But addiction is a very tricky beast and your loved one probably needs outside help in order to get through this period in his or her life. To truly help, you should always make sure that treatment is on the mind of your loved one. For example, you can keep a brochure or two around the house of a treatment center nearby.
Choosing to stop enabling your loved one is the first step in helping them get the help they deserve. This allows them to experience the consequence of their addiction, and how it’s truly affecting the people around them. If open to seeking treatment, encourage him or her to research a rehabilitation center near them, like Real Hope Recovery in San Diego. Getting outside help is often the push that some people need, to make a change within their lives and come out the other side a stronger person.