Addiction is a serious problem, yet so many never seek the help that they so desperately need. Some might not know where to turn or think that they lack the resources that they need in order to get help. For others, the enabler in their life has contributed to their denial and has made it so that seeking help is much more effort than it seems to be worth. When someone is always there to get you out of trouble, why change your way of life? Many people enable addicts without ever realizing that they are doing more harm than good. Enabling can discourage someone from getting help, which is why it’s so important to recognize this destructive behavior. The following are just some of the ways people enable others.
Always putting their needs ahead of your own.
Constantly putting someone else’s needs above your own isn’t only unhealthy for yourself, but it’s unhealthy for the one that you’re trying to prioritize. It may feel selfish to start putting your needs first, but it’s just the opposite. By taking care of yourself, you are prioritizing your mental and physical health and therefore will be able to help others more effectively. If you yourself are tired and run down, you’re not doing anyone else much good. Think about the past week. Did you jump up every time you’re loved one called? Did you put aside things that you were doing or things that you wanted to do in order to meet their needs? If you are doing that more often than not, it’s time to think long and hard about whether or not you are doing the right thing.
Lying or making excuses for them.
If you find yourself doing this, chances are you may be doing one or more other things from this list. You may think that you are keeping the peace or helping them avoid trouble, but all that you’re really doing is throwing a bucket of water onto a forest fire. By calling their boss and saying that they’re sick or making an excuse as to why they didn’t show somewhere, you just enable them to continue to use. The fact that they are abusing drugs or alcohol still remains, and lying to others in order to cover that up will not do them any good.
Sally knew that her son drank too much, and she suspected that he was using drugs as well. When she would confront him about it, he would blame his job. He would say that he has so much pressure on him and that the stress was too much to handle. He needed to have a couple of drinks in order to unwind. Each time her son stayed out until 3 am, rather than getting upset at her son, she started to get upset at his boss.
Financially supporting them.
As the old saying goes, “Give someone a fish and feed them for one day. Teach someone to fish and feed them for a lifetime.” If you are paying bills or giving them spending money, do yourself and them a favor; stop. You may think that it would be cruel to cut them off, but by supporting them financially you also enable their addiction. The best thing that you can do is help them to get help. This can be especially difficult for parents who have children that are abusing drugs or alcohol. One woman vented in an online forum about her 35-year-old son who is addicted to opioids. She admitted to allowing her son to live with herself and her husband, and to pay all of his bills. She stated that the only reason she did this was for their 3-year-old grandson. What she didn’t realize though is that by supporting her son financially, she was enabling him to continue to use and put her grandson in more danger long term.
Taking care of their responsibilities.
If you find yourself cleaning up their messes both figuratively and literally, it’s time to stop. Your loved one has to learn to deal with their responsibilities at home and outside of the home. Yes, there will be consequences, but it is a necessary evil.
Threatening to take action yet not following through.
You may have threatened to cut them off financially or stop getting them legal help, yet time and time again when they have a need you come to the rescue. This will only enable them to continue to make bad decisions. Can you really let them go to jail, or lose their job? Yes. While that seems extreme, they need to learn that there are consequences for their actions. In the same way that children will push boundaries and learn when threats of punishment are just empty threats, so will an addict.
Contact Clearbrook Today
Realizing that you enable the behaviors and choices of an addict is never easy. It’s important to remember that although it may seem cruel, ending the cycle of enabling is for the best; for both you and the addict in your life.
For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality drug and alcohol treatment to the chemically dependent person. Additionally, we believe strongly in treating the entire affected family unit, by providing specialized educational groups and family weekends that ensure success for both the addict and the family. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please contact our Admissions Specialists today.