Many Colorado residents wonder how they can help their family and loved ones with drug or alcohol addiction. If you are not careful though, you may end up enabling your addicted loved ones to continue with their harmful behaviors, rather than helping them find recovery and get better.
What is Enabling?
Enabling is different from helping. Enabling actually hurts the other person in the long run, rather than helping. While it may seem like helping, enabling actually allows harmful behaviors to continue when they otherwise might not.
Examples of enabling behaviors include giving money to an addict when he or she is likely to spend it on drugs or alcohol, driving the addict to get drugs or alcohol, or even getting the addictive substances for the addict. Another example of enabling an addict could be allowing him or her to use addictive substances in your home or live with you while are actively using and refusing to get treatment.
Why Enabling Happens
The main reasons you may find yourself enabling an addict may stem from feelings of guilt that you may have contributed to the addiction or a strong desire to avoid the conflict and bad feelings you think a confrontation will bring. While most enablers rationalize that they are trying to help their addicted loved one, the real reason behind most enabling is to make the enablers feel better about themselves.
Even if you did contribute to a loved one’s addiction (and chances are, you did not have any significant impact on it), enabling him or her to continue it will not make any previous wrong actions right. It will just continue harmful patterns and could end up leading to death or permanent damage for your loved one.
When you do not set healthy boundaries for how others treat you or act in your home, that can be a sign of codependency, which is not a healthy way to live for you or your addicted loved one. Codependent people often say yes when they do not want to, or give in to others’ demands to avoid confrontation. But codependent behavior will only allow the addict to do further harm and will not ultimately improve the situation.
Ending Enabling Behavior
You do not have to become hostile with your loved one in order to stop enabling unhealthy and dangerous behavior. A very simple conversation in which where you tell him or her calmly what you will and will not do in the future will end the enabling, as long as you stick to what you have said.
Explaining that you are taking steps to stop enabling addicts so that they will seek treatment for their addictions may not be well-received at first, but it could be the very thing your loved ones need to get them on the road to recovery. Without someone to enable their addiction, it may be much harder for them to keep it going, and getting treatment may look a whole lot easier than trying to continue using.
It is important to keep in mind that you are acting in your loved one’s best interest, even though you may feel like the bad guy in the situation. Your loved one needs to take responsibility for his or her own actions, rather than depending on you to facilitate the addiction and provide a shield from the consequences of substance abuse.
Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers addiction treatment to help your friend or loved one get on the path to recovery and a better life. Learn about admissions and all the programs we offer to those struggling with drug addiction and other substance abuse issues in Colorado.