Often individuals, who are helping an addicted family member or friend, think his actions are aiding his friend, but in reality, he is actually perpetuating the problem. In actuality, he is really enabling the person. Truthfully, he is in fact hurting the person.
So how do you know if you are enabling someone? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are indeed enabling your relative or friend. Do you cover up her addiction? Do you avoid talking to her about her addiction? Do you believe she can quit using whenever she wants to do so? Have you bailed her out a financial situation in the past? Does she continue to fail at promises she makes even though you keep giving her chances to change? Do you rationalize her behavior, so you cannot even detect when you are covering up her substance use? If any of these questions pertain to your relationship with an addict, you are more than likely enabling her addictive behaviors.
So now that you realize your enabling habits can be harming the addict, instead of helping, what do you do now?
Do not be afraid of changing and do not wait until a junkie hits rock bottom. You can help now before the problem gets out of hand. Do not be afraid of the consequences your loved one will endure if you quit enabling him. Enabling only allows the alcohol and drug habits to continue in your family member or friend’s life, so commit to making changes in your relationship to allow your loved one to feel the full effects of the consequences of the behaviors he chooses to engage in while feeding his alcohol and drug dependence. Allowing him to experience the consequences will push him to evaluate his substance abuse problem.
You can begin to change by setting boundaries with your family member or friend. Reassure her that you care about about her, but let her know you will be setting up boundaries in your relationship moving forward. Help her understand that you will no longer be giving into requests, which contribute to her alcohol or drug fixation. Let her know you will no longer sit aside and be passive on her obsessive choices as she drags you into the complications that coincide with her substance dependence. However, make sure you are not being aggressive and mean when you are establishing boundaries with your loved one. Be assertive. Make it known that you will no longer be giving her money. Tell her you will no longer be making excuses for her addiction to others. Explain you will no longer be fulfilling her obligations for her either. Hold your ground and make sure you are following through with the boundaries you set in place. Refrain from rescuing your family member or friend from situations she gets herself into as well. Understand this change will be hard for both you and your addicted loved one. However, remember to stand firm and not give in to angry demands or threats.
Recognize there will be strife that comes with these newly changed behaviors. Changing previously relied upon behaviors and once providing expected finances can cause a person to become angry. Be prepared for the angst, retaliation and manipulation that comes along with your stance against enabling. Accept your family member or friend may push harder to get what he wants and has previously gotten out of you. Learn how to cope with the person acting out against you. Being prepared for these types of behaviors so you can deal with them appropriately instead of giving into them. Have confidence in the boundaries you set and stick to them.
Do not give into your loved one’s negative reactions. Do not allow her to control your choices by making her own poor choices. She might try to regain the control she at one time had by guilting or manipulating you, but remember she must take full responsibility for her behaviors in order to learn from the consequences. However, feeling these ramifications may make her feel uncomfortable causing her to act out in insecurity or rebellion.
It is also important to take care of yourself. Loving an addict and setting boundaries can often be difficult and hurtful. It is important to recognize the choices he makes is his responsibility not your responsibility. If you are being harmed by an addicted loved one, make sure to report it to the proper authorities as well, so you all can get the help you need.
Finally, try to get your addicted family member or friend to seek professional guidance. Hopefully, by allowing her to feel the weight of her options through the consequences she experiences, will help her realize she needs treatment to overcome her addiction. It may be a long journey to recovery, but in the end it will be well worth it for you and your loved one.
Help your addicted family member or friend have the opportunity to get better by refusing to enable him any longer. It is a long, hard journey, but in the end, getting better and overpowering the addiction is well worth it for everyone involved.