Addiction is a powerful disease. It can change the way a person behaves or feels. It can do considerable damage to the body. Its effects can even spread to the family members around the person struggling with addiction. A loving, supportive family can be warped into a structure that assists in sustaining substance abuse. That’s why it’s important to know what enabling is, how to identify when you’re enabling and what you can do to provide the support your loved one truly needs.
What is Enabling?
When you hear someone talk about enabling addiction, they’re describing behavior that encourages continued substance abuse. This can be as obvious as loaning someone money when you know they will use it on drugs or alcohol, but enabling can take other more indirect forms. In fact, any behaviors or attitudes that simply allow addiction to continue can be viewed as enabling. According to some studies, nearly 90% of the people estimated to be struggling with addiction are in denial about their problem, and enabling can play a significant role in perpetuating their delusions.
Identifying Addiction Enabler Behavior
Some examples of behaviors that sustain addiction may include:
Blaming negative behaviors on others and not the addiction itself
Helping with tasks or activities that your loved one should be able to handle alone
Ignoring or overlooking the problems caused by addiction
Making excuses to others to protect your loved one from dealing with repercussions
Picking up neglected responsibilities
Putting the addict’s needs before your own
Resenting your loved one for the addiction and associated behaviors
How to Stop Enabling and Start Helping
If you truly want to help, be prepared for some challenges. You may need to allow your loved one to face social or even legal consequences for him or her to realize the gravity of the situation. Reevaluate any financial support you are providing. Always encourage treatment for addiction and try to have serious discussions about the situation when he or she is sober. Approach the subject from a place of love and concern and not from one of judgement. Al-Anon and other addiction support groups for families can help you cope with your struggles and connect you with others who are going through the same thing. These support systems can provide encouragement and stability as you try to help your loved one find healing.
Get the Help Your Family Needs at Design for Change
Design for Change Recovery Services has been providing quality 12-step holistic care using therapies in addiction science and advances in recovery theory that have proven effective and have changed the lives of thousands of drug addicts and alcoholics. Our treatment programs have proven effective for marijuana rehab and oxycontin rehab treatment as well as more traditional alcohol and drug rehab.