It’s often difficult to say no to someone we care about, especially if it upsets them. However, as much as you may believe you’re helping your loved one by keeping them happy, you may not realize that you’re enabling them.
At our faith-based drug rehab, we offer a variety of addiction treatment programs that target different forms of substance abuse. We incorporate scripture and prayer into our programs to assist patients with their spiritual and physical recovery.
Many enablers believe they’re helping the addict by keeping them happy. Causing a loved one distress can be heartbreaking, but allowing or even supporting their substance abuse is never okay. There is a big difference between enabling an addict and helping an addict. Helping an addict refers to doing this for them that they wouldn’t be able to do by themselves if they were sober. Enabling, on the other hand, refers to doing things for an addict that they could do on their own if they were sober. Helping is meant to assist the individual in improving themselves without protecting them from the repercussions of their addiction. Enabling protects the addict from the consequences of their substance abuse. Because they don’t feel an urgency to change their habits, they may continue their addiction out of contentment.
Learning how to stop enabling can be difficult. When you stop treating the addict a certain way, tensions may rise. They may question your love for them or whether you care anymore. They may say hurtful things or lash out at you because they’re unhappy with the change. It’s important to stay strong during these moments. There are several ways you can stop enabling and start helping the individual turn their life around.
Witnessing a loved one battle with addiction can be stressful. Constantly trying to be there for them, without taking the time to care for yourself, can burn you out and take a toll on your health. Learning how to stop enabling starts with taking care of yourself first. To avoid feeling overwhelmed while helping an addict, set aside time where you practice some self-care. Do something relaxing that sets your mind at ease and re-energizes you when you feel like you’re running on empty.
At Faith in Recovery, we have a faith-based family program that helps families of addicts heal from the repercussions of their loved one’s drug or alcohol abuse.
If you’re having trouble getting help for a loved one with an addiction, an intervention may help. An intervention is a meeting in which the addict’s closest friends and family come together to discuss how the addiction has personally affected them. They lovingly confront the individual and encourage them to receive addiction treatment.
The worst thing you can do for an addict is support their substance abuse by giving them money. If you are giving money to someone with a drug or alcohol problem, you’re basically setting them up for failure. No matter what they say they’re going to use the money for, do not give an addict money.
If you try to protect an addict from confronting the consequences of their addiction, then you’re making excuses for them. If you find yourself calling their place of work and making an excuse for their absence, this constitutes enabling. It may be easier said than done, but the person may have problems at work, home, or even with authorities that they have to face on their own. If they’re fired from their job after several drug-induced absences, then you have to allow them to face the repercussions. While you can drive them to other job interviews, you can’t call their boss and ask for their job back.
You won’t stop enabling until you learn the value of the word, “No.” The individual may ask you to do certain things for them like lie, give them money, or cover up any mistakes they made while they were under the influence. In these moments, you have to put your foot down. Rather than protecting them from the aftermath of their behavior, help them face these issues. By agreeing to constantly help them get away with bad behavior, you’re teaching them that they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions.
The line separating helping and enabling is thin and easy to overstep. Before helping someone with an addiction, you need to establish healthy boundaries with them. Be clear about how you’re going to help them and what kind of behaviors are considered unacceptable. Boundaries will not only protect you, but they will also prevent the other person from taking advantage.
The best way to avoid enabling an addict is by getting them help. Despite your many efforts, there is only so much you can do to help the individual recover. The most effective way to address substance abuse and help an addict reach sobriety is with professional addiction treatment. Once they’ve gone to a rehabilitation center, you can continue to offer them healthy support in their sobriety.