Are You Enabling or Helping Your Loved One?
You know your family member or good friend is struggling with substance use disorder. You want to help them, but no matter what you do, things just get worse. Could you be enabling your loved one to continue their addiction?
For most parents, siblings, good friends, spouses, and other loved ones, trying to help often means putting out immediate fires.
- They need money to pay the rent, so they don’t lose their home.
- Work is hard, and they just need someone to give them a break.
- You allow your loved one to be abusive or mean; after all, they can’t control how they act when they’re drunk or high.
- You can’t let your spouse lose their job, so you make excuses for why they are late again.
- It’s not uncommon for you to find yourself telling family and friends your loved one is okay but going through a rough time.
These types of actions help with the moment’s trouble – the risk of losing a home or job, for example. Yet they do nothing to help with the underlying problem. In fact, this type of “help” just makes it easy for your loved one to continue in their addiction.
Signs You’re Enabling a Loved One’s Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Could you be enabling? Look for these signs:
- You are in denial of the problem: Are you reluctant to admit that your loved one is addicted? Do you always have an excuse for their bad behavior?
- You are struggling financially: Are you giving your loved one money or providing a free place to live so they can continue to make ends meet? Do you continue to give them money when it’s clear they are using it to buy substances?
- You’re afraid of what’s happening but feel helpless: Addiction in a close loved one is difficult to deal with for anyone, and it’s not easy to watch someone you care about suffering. But if you are afraid of confronting your loved one, you are allowing them to continue in their addiction.
- You’ve lied for your loved one: Lying to employers, friends, or family to protect your loved one from the consequences of their behavior is a sure sign of enabling.
- It’s terrifying for you to think of what could happen: Is your fear of the future keeping you from making any changes?
If any of these situations sound familiar, now is the time to take action. Deciding to stop enabling could be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but you can do it.
How to Stop Enabling Without Destroying Yourself
Those who enable their loved one often are facing anxiety, stress, and frustration themselves. They may be battling mental health disorders, financial struggles, and daily stress with their own life. At the same time, they’ve worked so hard to keep their loved one “okay” even if they are not healthy. When you’re not willing to give up on your addicted loved one, what can you do to help?
- Connect with a drug and alcohol addiction counselor to learn about addiction and create a strategy that can help you both. Consider family therapy, too.
- Take the time to go to local recovery meetings for family and friends of people addicted to substances. Talk to other people who are facing the same struggles and on the path to recovery. Ask for help getting your loved one into care.
- Openly talk to your loved one about the ways you’ve been enabling them. Make it clear that you intend to stop enabling them so they can find a way to recover. You will no longer lie for them, give them money, or make excuses for them. You’ll set clear boundaries.
- Get into treatment for yourself, too. That often means finding a support group or talking to a therapist who can guide you through this very difficult process. That type of support is going to help you stick to the plan and help your loved one get help.
- Recognize that the hard things you have to do in life are some of the most important. Don’t make it seem simple or anything less than heroic to put relationships on the line to get your loved one the help they need.
You Don’t Need to Do it on Your Own
The most important thing for your loved one is to get into professional treatment. That will give you both access to family programs to begin the healing process. Start the conversation about addiction with your loved one. Let Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Louisiana be a part of the process. Contact us to learn how.
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