Witnessing a drug or alcohol addiction derail your loved one’s life can change you. From the way you live your life individually, and as a family, to the emotions you begin to experience, the negative effects of the addiction do not only impact the user—family members of an addicted individual often suffer greatly at the hand of the addiction. During this time, it is crucial that you strive to maintain a healthy perspective while balancing your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in a way that is advantageous to both you and your loved one. You might find that in striving to love your family member, you actually start to make choices that are detrimental to both your and your loved one’s well-being. If you’re worried about enabling addiction, learn more about the signs today. And reach out for help from addiction treatment programs to better support your loved one.
How Do You Know if You’re Enabling Addiction?
Many enablers mistakenly think that they are actually helping their loved ones. The hard truth is that some individuals may, in the process of attempting to care for their loved one, actually be contributing to their struggle with drugs or alcohol and impeding their path to sobriety.
If you are within a codependent and enabling relationship, you are allowing the reality they’ve set forth through the destructive behaviors of their addiction to define the way you are living your life. The enabling individual isn’t only causing harm to their loved one—they are invariably causing great harm to themselves. They are remiss in focusing on their personal self-care and needs in lieu of the energy they expend towards trying to insulate their family member from the truth and acceptance of their addiction.
Examples of Enabling Behaviors
When a family member, friend, or partner takes on the role of the enabler, their actions generally arise from a well-intentioned desire to see their loved one well. This leads to the enabler shouldering the predominant majority of the burdens, while their loved one carries little. The following are ways that an enabler may delay or relieve their loved one from the consequences of their actions:
- Financially — When a person compulsively and chronically uses drugs, he or she typically requires significant amounts of money to fuel their habit, commonly leading to dire financial straits. When this happens, he or she may approach their friends or family members asking for money.
- Picking up the slack — A hallmark of addiction is when the individual begins to forgo their responsibilities, examples include at work or at home. Perhaps they’ve cut back on their hours at work due to the effects of their addiction, so a spouse begins working more.
- Using the substances themselves — In some cases, before addiction took hold, the enabler may have used drugs or alcohol with the addicted individual. In pursuit of fun, relaxation, or an attempt to connect to the individual, the enabler may actually use the drug of use with the person struggling with the addiction.
- Embracing denial — An addiction breeds denial and not just on the part of the individual who is addicted. In the beginning, it can be easy to ignore tell-tale signs of addiction, by explaining them away; however, as time passes, some individuals continue to immerse themselves in this harmful perspective.
The Difference Between Helping and Enabling
So how do you look after your loved one without playing a part in this destructive role? Boundaries. Though this may seem like a cut-and-dry concept, it is one that requires great introspection, effort, and diligence. Letting your loved one suffer the consequences of their actions may be painful to witness and may seem far from helpful behavior, however, you must remind yourself that in the case of substance use and addiction, the force and reality of a person’s consequences may create the greatest urgency for change.
Enabling a person essentially creates roadblocks in their path towards sobriety, in the capacity that it hinders both the experience of the adverse effects and the subsequent internal dialogue that would result from them. As hard as it may be, in order to truly help your loved one, you need to allow them the opportunity (however painful for you both) to encounter the repercussions of their choices and actions concerning their drug or alcohol use.
Find Strength and Better Coping Skills at Vertava Health Mississippi
If any of these situations sound familiar, you may be enabling your loved one’s addiction. If you’d like more information on how you can take part in your loved one’s life in a more productive and supportive way, reach out to us now. Vertava Health Mississippi can offer both you and your loved one access to the guidance, resources, and information that can be transformative at this time. Reach out to our team at 844.470.0410 today.