Enable : to give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something
To enable an addict is to allow an addict to continue to suffer. This may sound harsh, but if you are guilty of enabling an addict, you may be slowly killing them. Signs to look out for are manipulation from an addict trying to convince you for handouts. I know first hand because not only have I experienced it personally having four years sober, but I have also witnessed it first hand. My sister was enabled by my entire family, we never allowed her to hit the rock bottom she needed. Letting an addict hit rock bottom allows them to realize they have nothing left, that the drug or drink became more powerful than them. To stop enabling them allows the addict to wake up one day and realize something must change if they want to get their life and family back. By continuing to enable my sister during addictive addiction, it had got the best of her. She passed away six years ago from this disease. Enabling an addict or alcoholic is so frowned upon as it does not allow the individual to grow. We all love the suffering individual so we get confused and end up hurting them VS. helping them. Below I listed my opinion on what not to do when dealing with an addict suffering from this disease.
Sometimes an addict will remain in addiction because they feel their families still support them. Families do not realize that if the addict’s life is remaining “normal” then they will not feel the need to change anything and will not see a need to seek help. The best thing a family member can do is cut ties, which is 100% easier said than done. It is proven in many cases that detaching yourself from the addict gives them the best chance to reach out for help. By emotionally continuing to support an addict, they will feel that they have no consequences. No consequences means staying stagnant.
Supplying an addict with money is basically just giving them your blessing and supporting the drugs for them. A way to avoid giving an addict money is if they ask for money because they are hungry, tell them you will buy them food instead of handing over the cash. Giving an addict money is probably the number one cause of enabling, you are handing them their lifeline to continue to get high or gamble. And even buying them food can be considered enabling, so be careful. Try and be very minimal when dealing with money towards an addict.
Another huge cause of enabling an addict is being in denial that a loved one is actually an addict. I know from personal experience that my parents were so ashamed of my sister being an addict that they refused to see the signs and get her help. Being someone who is in denial of a loved one’s addiction makes it even harder for the addict to reach out for help. If the individual’s disease is the big elephant in the room, then that is just hurting not only the addict but the family as well.
Do not make excuses for the addict. If you do, you are enabling them. A common excuse parents will make is that the addict used drugs because of stress from school or work. Another example of making excuses for them is if they do not show up to a family event and you tell other family members they are late or aren’t coming because of a previous engagement. When in reality they are high and just forgot. By making excuses for an addict you are cosigning their behavior.
Do not fear the future
A lot of people feel that by refusing to enable an addict it will ruin their relationship with them. The family is scared to cut ties because of the future outcome. They do not want the addict to suffer alone and resent them. Due to family members feeling guilty, they will continue to satisfy the addict so the addict does not “hate them.” In the beginning of the process of stopping enabling an addict, the addict will become angry with the individual who cut them off. Just keep in mind that all of these feelings will remain temporary. In the long run, once they have found their higher power and the rooms of AA/NA the addict will thank you and make amends.
Following these steps will not be easy, but it is one of many ways to treat an addict in active addiction. They must have a change of lifestyle in order to seek help, enabling an addict can be detrimental to the recovery process. Once the enabling stops, the addict will have to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves, how did I get here? Where is everyone? By having nothing and no one is when they will reach out for help. The only thing that you should help them with is finding a rehabilitation or detox facility. Not everyone believes in the “cut them off” method, it is a very touchy subject. But facilities that utilize this technique have a higher success rate. Once you begin to terminate the enabling is when the next chapter for you and the addict can begin.
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It can be intimidating to know that addiction and alcoholism are always right around the corner. Sometimes getting that little push and having medical guidance can be what it takes. Relapse and active addiction/alcoholism are only as preventable as much as we value the sobriety we hold in our hands. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please call 800-982-5530 or visit www.restoredetoxcenters.com. Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.