Enabling Behaviors in Families of Addicts

Often when family and friends try to “help” addicts, they are making it easier for them to continue in the progression of the disease of addiction.

When you love or care about someone, you don’t want to see this person hurt. Whether emotionally or physically, you do not want to see them suffer and would do anything to prevent them from being so. This is understandable and normal in a family, spousal or dear friend setting. When that person you love and care for is an addict, there is a line that is, innocently, often crossed between helping and enabling.

Enabling Behaviors in Families of Addicts

Unintentionally Enabling a Loved One

Many times when family and friends try to “help” addicts, they are making it easier for them to continue in the progression of the disease. This baffling phenomenon is called enabling, which takes many forms, all of which have the same effect—allowing the addict to avoid the consequences of his actions.

Enabling allows the addict to continue merrily along with his or her drug use ways, secure in the knowledge that no matter how much he screws up, somebody will always be there to rescue him from his mistakes. Only when he is forced to face the consequences of his actions, will it finally begin to sink in how deep his problem has become.

How to Stop Enabling Addicted Loved Ones?

So you may have realized you have been enabling and don’t know what to do now or how to stop. This is a very tough decision to make because you don’t want to hurt him or her but realize this; you are hurting them if you don’t stop the enabling. First, you want to ask yourself, if the addict could do what you are doing if they were not using? Here are a couple of ways where you can start helping and stop enabling:

Do not allow the addict to continue their current lifestyle – Are you paying any bills that the addict could be paying himself or herself? They may have lost their job due to their addiction and will continue to use and not be in any hurry in finding another one if they don’t have to pay bills or rent due to you enabling and paying for them. The addict needs to experience this consequence due to his or her addiction.

Do not do things for the addict that they could do themselves – Maybe the addict had their car repossessed and doesn’t have a ride to a job interview or an NA meeting. Giving him or her a ride to or from is helping because this is something they cannot do on his or her own. Enabling is looking up the meeting schedule or searing in the want ads for jobs which the addict is capable all by their self.

Let the addict experience his or her consequences from their actions – He or she may get arrested and go to jail for actions of their addiction. Do not bail and/or pay their fines. This will only allow the addict to not fully take on their consequence.  

There are many ways to which you could be enabling that can be extremely difficult to quit. Know that no matter what you do, you cannot control what another person does, but you can control what you do. You can control what goes on in your life and what boundaries to set for what is acceptable or not. While trying to not enable any further, it is a good idea to get support from others that are going through this. Al-Anon and Families Anonymous are support groups that deal with families and addicts.

Get Experienced Help With On Call Treatment

If you or a loved one has a drug abuse problem, start healing in a treatment center you can fully trust. At On Call Treatment, we can help you start healing. We are an addiction treatment program located in the heart of Waltham, Massachusetts. Our carefully developed program of quality clinical care includes Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) levels of care. Our medical, clinical and therapeutic team of experienced and compassionate professionals is available around-the-clock to treat all symptoms associated with addiction as well as the underlying causes. Our program of recovery is ideal for individuals who are ready for world-class addiction treatment who have been suffering from a substance use disorder.

We pride ourselves on staying true to our name. At On Call Treatment, we are available 24/7 to help in any and every way that we can so call now.