Drug and alcohol addiction should not be left for others to blame- it is, of course, the responsibility of the addict to take responsibility for their lives. But in some cases, friends or family members of someone struggling with addiction behave in ways that encourage further drug use. It’s a tremendously difficult position being close to someone with an addiction- feelings of guilt and responsibility are overwhelming. But as the old saying goes- sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realize how deep you are really buried. Being an enabler, whether consciously or not, hinders recovery chances for your loved one. Check out these signs that you might be enabling someone you love and find out how to stop.
They Only Go To You
If the addict in your life relies on you for almost everything, that’s usually a sign that you’re the only one left willing to help. This is a tough spot to be in, on the one hand, you feel responsible to take care of them when no one else is. On the other hand, though, giving them help every time they ask for it makes it easy for them to continue using. In short, they are taking advantage of your generosity and usually manipulating you with guilt. This isn’t going to benefit either party in this type of relationship. What you need to do is slowly stop giving in or explain that you can only provide certain things if they try to get sober and seek treatment. They may be angry at first, but in the long run, it will help both you and your loved one who is struggling.
Your Wallet Is Feeling Light
One of the most difficult aspects of addiction is that it’s not a cheap habit. The money for drugs often is too large of an amount that the user can afford. They usually turn to other methods of obtaining drugs and money for them, either trading or stealing. It gets to a point though when they just need even more money and turns to family members. Lots of times they won’t tell you it’s for drugs and instead claims it’s for food, rent, car payments, etc. Whether the money is really for drugs or not is not the point, they are in need of money because they are spending so much on using. Giving them money to pay for anything is only allowing them to continue buying and using- and even if you think you are helping them, you aren’t. If you are putting yourself in a financially sensitive position to help support an addict, you are enabling them to continue.
You Rarely Put Your Foot Down
Regardless of the state, they are in, any addict is struggling to some degree. If its someone you love and care about, it can be hard to not feel sorry for them and try to make their situation better. If you are constantly trying to make them feel better-saying things like “it’s okay, don’t be so hard on yourself, things will get better eventually” you aren’t actually helping the situation, but making them feel like where they are in their life is okay and it’s really not. Instead, you should be saying things like, “I do love you, but this needs to change”, or “things will get better if you get the help you need and work hard for it”. In order to support and not enable, you have to ask for action, require some measurable change. It may feel like your being to hard on them during a time that they feel alone, but you’re giving them the chance to get their life back under control, and in time, your tough love will pay off more than being a pushover will.
Enabling Hurts Both You and The Addict You Love
Enabling is bad for the addict, as we have read above. It allows them to continue using as they feel they have a constant backup if anything goes wrong. What is more important is that enabling actually harms yourself too. If your covering them for money-you’re putting yourself into a financial struggle. If your constantly helping them with their emotional struggles-you’re likely putting other relationships and your own on the back burner. It’s very common for relationships and marriages and even families to fall apart over one member spending too much effort taking care of an addict. Others feel neglected or agree that enabling is only going to make the addict continue using. In other cases, your performance at your job could decrease from being unfocused or taking time off to care for the addict. There are endless scenarios that prove enabling is just as harmful to you as the addict you think you’re helping, but the point to understand is that it makes things worse for every party involved.
It’s not easy to stop being an enabler, you may be riddled with guilt and constant worry. The first thing to do is take the responsibility off of yourself. Realize it’s their life, their choices, and you can only do so much.
Next, consider yours and their situations and try to find what could actually benefit the both of instead of harming. Realize that if you have no money, you can’t take care of them or you. If your emotionally drained-you can’t support yourself, them, or anyone. Take all of this into consideration when drawing up a new game plan for dealing with someone who has an addiction.
Recovery Is Possible
The best thing you can do for someone with an addiction problem is helping them find a treatment program. Our professionally trained staff has the tools and experience to help anyone suffering from an addiction find sobriety. Call today to speak to one of our representatives and find a treatment program specifically designed for you.