When you love someone who deals with substance abuse, it can be challenging to grasp how to help an addict without enabling them. You walk a fine line because you want to be there for that person, but also run the risk of negatively impacting their road to recovery. They are in a state where their decision making is altered, which can complicate the process. You may feel rejected by the addict, frustrated, or even angry.
In addition, it is important to remember when dealing with your loved one that you want to be emotionally healthy as well. You cannot risk sacrificing your own needs because ultimately that helps no one. The addict has to want to change for themselves and enabling allows them to avoid this fact.
Although enabling usually comes from good intentions, it can have consequences. Fortunately, we can show you how to help an addict without enabling their lifestyle. True support is key and your loved one will appreciate it when all is said and done. To get the help you need and learn how to support an addict, please call us at 706-480-8733.
If you are trying to figure out how to help an addicted loved one without enabling, our professionals have the advice and resources you are looking for.
The Basics of Enabling
First, it’s important to understand how enabling works. With addiction, “enabling” is a broad term that encompasses any behavior that contributes to the addiction. The addict clearly enables their own substance abuse, but in this case, the focus is on those around them. Preventing a loved one from experiencing the consequences of addiction is a form of enabling.
This behavior often comes from good intentions and individuals struggling to understand how to help an addict without enabling. You may feel guilty about your loved one facing this addiction and think that by contributing to certain behaviors, you are making them feel loved. For example, here is a great scenario of an enabling situation:
“Each month, Randy gives money to his addicted sister because he fears that she won’t be able to buy food if he doesn’t—even though he knows that she spends the money he gives her on drugs. He’s even been known to drive her to the dealer to pick up her drugs. He tells himself, “At least I know that she’s safe here with me.”
Anyone can understand where this person is coming from. Many family members and loved ones feel caught between a rock and a hard place. Do you help your loved one and just deal with the bad behavior? Or do you leave them to their own devices, which could be catastrophic?
It’s why enabling is such a persistent, difficult issue to deal with in addiction. Recovery professionals can help you navigate precarious situations where you’re not sure which direction to turn.
However, even if it makes you feel mean or neglectful, you never want to slow a person’s journey toward recovery.
How To Determine If You Are Enabling
You may not even realize you are enabling someone else. But you may be if you are doing any of the following:
- Ignoring unacceptable behavior. This can range from overlooking negative actions to denying that a problem exists.
- Feeling resentful of the responsibilities you’ve taken on. You may feel angry toward the afflicted person yet continue to enable them.
- Consistently putting the needs of the addict above your own. Their happiness becomes more important than yours.
- Having trouble expressing emotions honestly. Enablers are often unsure what reaction they will get if they express their feelings openly – to the addict or others– and fear backlash.
- Being fearful that something you do will start a fight or made an addict flee. People in an enabling relationship do everything possible to avoid these frightening situations.
- Lying to cover for their mistakes. You’re more interested in keeping the peace, rather than being confrontational.
- Continuing to offer help though it isn’t acknowledged or appreciated. You just keep trying and it seems like the other person doesn’t care.
Unfortunately, these behaviors can be toxic to both you and the other person. The sacrifices of the well-meaning enabler ultimately lead to more negative consequences for themselves and the person they’re trying to keep safe. As you learn how to help an addict without enabling, be mindful of these warning signs.
If you fear for the life of yourself or someone you love because of an addiction, then call us today. Our experts will be able to help you, or anyone you know, get back on track to their happiest and healthiest life.
The Risk of Codependency
As you’re wrestling with how to help an addict, also be aware of how quickly enabling can turn into codependency.
How do you know if you are experiencing codependency? Codependency in a relationship means that partners feed off one another for their emotional needs in an unhealthy way. Both parties begin to operate from a place of fear, avoiding dealing with their problems. You may develop codependency out of fear of losing the relationship, while your loved one may fear anything that gets in the way of their substance use.
Moreover, codependency is basically a cycle of people-pleasing. Fear of conflict plays a major role. When acting from this place of fear you may put others’ needs before your own. Often, this happens out of feelings of guilt or shame, but don’t be hard on yourself. However, with professional guidance, you can release those feelings and learn how to truly support your struggling friend or family member.
10 Things to Remember About Enabling
Still not convinced? In case a reminder is necessary, here are 10 other reasons you should NEVER enable a person struggling with addiction.
- Enabling is never a loving act
- The only person you can control is yourself
- Enabling only worsens the situation by creating more drama
- Your behaviors can cause a ripple effect
- Enabling keeps everyone in their comfort zone
- The addict does not respect enablers
- When you enable, you disrespect yourself
- Enabling is often selfish
- Enabled addicts may lose faith in their resilience
- Enabling prolongs the addiction
Another important thing to remember is that these facts do not mean you should stop showing your addicted loved one compassion. You can lovingly encourage changes in behavior without being mean or spiteful. In fact, wanting to see them fully sober is the most compassionate thing you can do. Refusing to make these tough calls only leads to more chaos in your household. It can make the situation feel impossible and others may start enabling too as they watch you do it.
The Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association has this to say: “When the enabling stops and the addicted person truly becomes ready to face their own demons, that is when we can step in and really be helpful. To the best of our ability, we can support that person to shift into active recovery. There are many ways to do this—we can financially support their time in residential treatment if we have the means to do that. We can offer emotional support and let them know how proud we are of them.”
If you cant stop enabling someone in your life, then call us today. We can provide you with more resources and tools that will help you, and your loved one, today.
How to Actually Help an Addict
How to support an addict without enabling? One thing to realize is that helping an addict may force you out of your comfort zone. It will require a great deal of patience and strength especially if the relationship has become codependent. Yet, once you realize the destructive effect of enabling it is important to stop as soon as you can. You show the addict true love and support by encouraging them to get healthy.
In addition, another way to learn how to support an addict is to do some self-reflecting. Start to question why you enable in the first place. You may realize that your actions are more about your own comfort than the addicts. Once you are able to recognize the motivation behind your behaviors, it will be that much easier to quit them. Release any guilt you may feel about the situation and encourage your loved one to seek professional help.
Consider Staging an Intervention
One important way to support an addict without enabling them is to stage an intervention. This can be a crucial part of the healing process for your loved one. It is the type of tough love that holds both you and your loved one accountable. An intervention may look like firmly cutting off financial support. Another example would be sitting the addicted person down and having a firm talk about rehab.
These conversations can and will likely be very difficult. You may have to model how to support an addict for other family members. Ultimately, it is the boost that may be necessary for getting your loved one back on the right track.
Our specialists can help you stage an intervention the is right for you and the addict in your life. Need further assistance with having an intervention for someone? Then call us today.
If you had been enabling prior to the intervention it is important to remain stern. If the addict senses you are hesitant it may encourage them to manipulate the situation and guilt you back into those negative behaviors. You just have to remember that it is better to be stern with the goal of recovery than to waiver and risk the situation becoming a tragedy. Addiction claims the lives of far too many people and ultimately all we can do is encourage the addict to change for themselves.
Take Advantage of Resources
Finally, remember that you do not have to figure out this situation alone. Attempting to place the of someone else’s addiction on your shoulders only creates more harm. Fortunately, you can avoid this by taking advantage of the resources available to you. This is the quickest way to save you and your loved one from unnecessary stress and heartache.
Maybe you do not know where to start? The first way you can take advantage of resources is to educate yourself. Study credible websites that address the substance abuse issue your loved one is facing. You can even make it sociable. Maybe you and your loved one watch a documentary on the issue and have a supportive discussion afterward. If you can understand their addiction you will understand the risks and avoid enabling behaviors.
In short, after doing what you can to educate yourself, the best step is to seek professional help. As we have learned, enabling behaviors have no place on this journey and we can help you avoid them. Not only that, but we can help you and your loved one find the treatment options necessary and address any concerns you may have about the process. Do not hesitate to give us a call today. Addiction is a beast best tamed quickly and you will need support. Remember that your feelings matter too and that while getting your loved one to recovery may be uncomfortable, it is also vitally important.
Written by Meccah Muhammad