Dealing with a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be one of the most difficult things that a person can face. It brings up emotions that few other illnesses produce and it causes confusion and disintegration within relationships incomparable to almost anything else in life. Within the swell of all of this, people often times get stuck enabling their loved one and many are not even aware that they are doing so.
Operating under the guise that they are simply helping, they are completely unaware that their actions are actually allowing their loved one to continue to be sick and prolonging their ability to hit bottom. It is a very tough position to be in because on the one hand, you want to be open to support your addicted loved one in any way possible, but given the nature of addiction, discerning how and when to do this can be almost impossible.
Addicts are, for the most part, deceivers and they will do anything within their ability to ensure that they can continue their addiction. This means that they will often times manipulate emotions and cause those closest to them to engage in activities that they otherwise would not have. They can convince their parents or spouses that giving them money is the right thing to do or bailing them out of trouble is their responsibility, but a large portion of the time, these things are not in fact their responsibility.
So in order to better help your addicted loved one, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of enabling and when they come up, not engage in the enabling activity. Doing so may feel uncomfortable at first, and to a degree, it may feel like you are abandoning your loved one, but in the long run, it is really only helping them get better faster.
Signs of Enabling
Before we get into what the signs of enabling are, I think it is important to understand the difference between lending support and enabling. These two things can often get confused and as similar as they may seem, the results they produce are very different. Supporting a loved one who has an addiction means that you are available to help them in any way you can towards them getting sober. This may mean taking them to treatment or lending an ear for them to talk to, but whatever the behavior is, the goal is always focused on getting the person help.
In contrast to this, enabling may seem like supporting, but its goal is to not upset the addict for fear that they may do something rash. Enabling usually is the result of a person taking on too much responsibility for someone’s addiction and so, therefore, you make excuses for them or “support” them in behaviors that lead to the furtherance of their addiction.
In the heat of the moment and among the profound emotions that are brought up when dealing with a loved one's addiction, spotting the signs of enabling can be difficult. A person can very easily get confused and start to enable rather than support and since this is to be expected, always keep in mind the following things when attempting to figure out if you are enabling. Ask yourself are you:
· Giving them money
· Covering up their problems by paying for rent, legal fees, etc.
· Trying to control their every move
· Making empty threats
· Keeping secrets for your loved one so as to not cause problems
· Making excuses for their behavior
· Blaming others for their behavior
· Blaming their problems on things other than addiction
If you find that you are engaging in any of these types of behaviors, then you may be enabling your loved one in their addiction. However, just recognizing that you are enabling is only the first step and it can be very difficult to break these patterns of behaviors because they more than likely have become ingrained in how you and your loved one interact. Attempting to change these behaviors is usually met with opposition from the addict because they know that the jig is up and they can no longer rely on you to enable them.
How To Stop Enabling
In order to stop enabling your loved one, you first have to get better yourself. It is often helpful to attend a fellowship like Al-Anon in order to do this and in Al-Anon you will find many people who have experienced exactly what you are going through. They will be able to show you how to let go of your perceived control of your loved one’s addiction and in turn, find peace within your own life.
By doing this, you will then be better equipped to operate from a logical and sane place when dealing with your loved one, rather than acting out of emotions that cloud your judgment. Your friends in Al-Anon will be able to support you as you make the tough decision necessary to stop enabling and having their support means that you do not need to traverse this path alone. This oftentimes makes a world of difference when dealing with difficult situations, so finding a support group can go a long way in helping you to stop enabling your loved one.
If airing out your private business in a semi-public setting is not something that you are ready to do, then seeking private therapy is a great way to go about stopping enabling your loved one. Most therapists are able to give you the tools you need to change how you interact with your loved one. They will be able to support you through the tough times that lay ahead and they will also be able to help unravel some of the confusing emotions that you may be experiencing.
The goal with Al-Anon and therapy, in regards to getting you to stop enabling your loved one, is to get you okay with yourself so that you can stand firm in your decisions and make the right choices for yourself and the addict in your life. Doing this is never easy, but having support can often be the difference between success and failure.
Stop Enabling and Start Supporting
If you have a loved one who has a problem with drugs or alcohol and they want to seek help, then call the professionals at Evolutions Treatment Center today at 1-800-795-8527. We can help your loved one find the support they need in order to finally overcome their addiction and help you in your own journey of recovery as well. Our trained staff is standing by to help, so call today.