When your loved one is hurting, you naturally want to help them. When they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you want to keep them from suffering as much as possible. However, you may actually be doing your loved one more harm than good when you enable their behavior. What does it mean to enable someone and what happens when you stop enabling an addict?
Enabling vs Helping
Your intentions are good in wanting to prevent further harm from coming to your loved one. You may try to keep them out of financial or legal trouble. You may make excuses for them when they are not able to fulfill their responsibilities. You want to help them, but by doing so you are actually enabling your loved one.
Enabling means that you are making it easier for the individual to continue using drugs or alcohol to the extent that it has serious consequences for their life. When you enable them, you keep them from having to face those consequences.
You are also enabling when you deny there is a problem or when you recognize the problem but choose to ignore it. When a person is addicted, they may also deny they have a problem. You might be afraid of confronting them about their behavior, so you let it continue to avoid conflict.
Helping an addict means making some difficult choices in your life in regard to what you will and will not do for them. You can help them get treatment for their addiction, for example. However, when you continue enabling them, that is not helping them or you.
How to Stop Enabling
What can you do to truly help the individual who is addicted and to stop your own enabling behaviors? One of the first things you’ll need to do is to bring attention to the issue of their addiction. Make it clear to the individual that you know what’s going on with their substance abuse as well as the issues it is causing in their life and in yours.
Take a deep breath and tell the addict that you cannot continue to support their behavior. Reassure them, though, that you still care about them deeply and let them know that you are willing to help them work toward changing their life, including helping them to find treatment options.
Establish boundaries and consequences and stick to them. If you have been helping the individual financially, let them know you will no longer do that if they do not seek help for their addiction. Let your loved one know that you cannot continue to pay their rent or cover their legal bills, for example, when they don’t show up for work or waste their money on drugs or alcohol. Offer to take them to an addiction treatment appointment, but do not simply hand them money for gas or other expenses.
Practice saying “no.” When the person who is addicted is your loved one, it is very difficult to refuse to continue enabling them. You must remain firm in your determination to stop enabling them. They may get angry, but you will need to remain calm and make it clear that you are sticking to those boundaries and consequences you established.
What Happens When You Stop Enabling
One of the reasons for not continuing to enable someone you care about is for your own health and well-being. It will be difficult at first, but when you stop enabling an addict you will find that you are better off, physically, mentally and financially. It will be helpful to you to reach out to a mental health professional and an appropriate support group for yourself as you work through the challenges of giving up your enabling behaviors.
When you stop enabling an addict, you will begin truly helping them. You will be more effective in empowering the addict to be able to solve their own problems in regard to their substance abuse. You can guide them through the process of finding help by showing them how to access appropriate resources.
When you stop enabling, you are better able to give the individual who is addicted the tools they need to succeed in life by teaching them the skills necessary to live a healthier life independently. You give them the power to make their own choices and solve their own problems, including following through on an effective addiction treatment program and moving forward into recovery.
Addiction Treatment for Your Loved One
If you are concerned about your loved one’s addiction, it can be overwhelming. Know that you are not alone. If your loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, help is here. The team at Cumberland Heights understands how difficult it can be to overcome addiction. That’s why we provide clinically advanced care to people throughout the state of Tennessee. To learn more about addiction treatment through Cumberland Heights, contact our admissions team today.