Supporting a Family Member in Their Addiction
There’s a fine line between supporting a family member in their addiction and enabling a family member in their addiction.
This line can be extremely hard to see, as it was for me. All I wanted was for my daughter to stop using drugs and alcohol, and I was going to help her do it. I had no idea my perception of “supporting” was a little skewed and what I had been doing was enabling her addiction.
It didn’t take long to figure out my way wasn’t working, and that’s when my husband and I put our daughter in addiction treatment. It was a painful time for the both of us, as we had thought we lost her forever.
I remember being so confused when I was told that I needed to support her during her recovery, but I couldn’t go back to my old behavior of enabling her.
The counselor went on to say that while supporting a family member in their addiction is important, I had been enabling her and that could have killed her. What?!! I was merely helping my daughter by taking care of situations that would have stressed her out.
At the request of the counselor, a month later I started my own recovery through the Al-Anon program.
It wasn’t until then that I began to understand what supporting a family member meant. I had to take a close look at my actions to fully see the difference between supporting and enabling. Enabling tends to fall into the rescuing category, such as doing something for my daughter that she could and should be doing for herself. Supporting was simply doing something for her that she was unable to do for herself.
Supporting a family member who is struggling with addiction means setting the stage for them to seek out help and treatment. Just as our daughter needed help, we did too. We needed to understand our role in her recovery but also needed to understand that her recovery was her recovery. We could be supportive, but it was up to her to clean up her past messes, be responsible as a sober member of society, and plot out her recovery path. My job was to stay out of her path and work on myself.
Five years later, I have a sober daughter, and I’m still attending my Al-Anon meetings.
Supporting a family member in their addiction can be a confusing and difficult task. Don’t do it on your own. Contact us anytime at 337.456.9111.
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