When there is an addict in your family, whether it is your spouse, parent, sibling, or child, it is understandable to want to attempt to help and support them. However, trying to help your loved one when they are struggling with a substance abuse disorder could turn into a combination of enabling and addiction.
Enablers believe they are assisting even though their actions make it more difficult for the loved one to admit they have an addiction, let alone take the steps to seek help.
To truly help your loved one, you and your family must be willing to take a stand against the addiction. You need to let your loved one know that there will be consequences due to their substance abuse disorder. Most importantly, the family needs to be prepared to remain firm to prevent enabling.
What Does Enabling Mean?
Enabling is behaving in such a manner that helps support the addict’s substance abuse disorder. There are different behaviors that enablers exhibit that prevent their loved ones from facing and confronting the reality of their addiction.
Signs you are an enabler and enabling your loved one include:
- You make excuses for them and their behaviors.
- You provide them with cash that ends up going to support their habit.
- You shelter them from facing serious consequences.
- You lie to others about their addiction.
- You attempt to rationalize their substance abuse disorder.
- You provide them with essential needs like food, clothing, and shelter.
- You reward them for their addictive behaviors.
- You pretend nothing is wrong.
Enabling and addiction are dangerous situations to get into. As your loved one continues to abuse drugs or alcohol, they will need to use more and more to achieve the desired effects. Essentially, you could be placing them on a path where they could accidentally overdose, or worse, overdose and kill themselves.
Are You an Enabler?
You and your family’s desire to help your loved one can be broken down into four different types of enablers. These enablers are related to the counterproductive behaviors exhibited that only reinforce the substance abuse disorder.
#1: Hope-Based Enabler
This type of enabler always looks for the good in their loved one. They will provide support and encouragement while taking the stance their loved one is about to make a major breakthrough and take the steps to get help. They believe if they stop, any perceived progress will be lost.
However, the perceived progress is not real because their loved one knows what to say when confronted about their addiction, such as:
- I can stop anytime I want to.
- I will start rehab tomorrow.
- I just need to use one more time to get through this stressful situation.
- I am close to quitting, I just need to continue to wean my usage until I can stop.
#2: Fear-Based Enabler
Fear-based enablers try to avoid conflict with their loved ones and their addiction. They are afraid that if they confront the addiction, their loved one make threats hurting the family, like moving out or causing self-harm to themselves.
#3: Victim-Based Enabler
Victim-based enablers believe their loved one is a victim of circumstances. If certain events hadn’t occurred, then their loved one would have never started drinking or using drugs. Instead of blaming the addict, they blame the event. All they are doing is making it easier for the addict to continue abusing drugs or alcohol.
#4: Guilt-Based Enabler
A guilt-based enabler feels guilty for their loved one’s addiction. The addict often blames their family members as the reason they started using. For instance, they say their parents were never around when they needed help.
By shifting the blame onto other family members and making them feel guilty, the addict does not have to confront their addiction. Since guilt-based enablers feel guilty, they can feel responsible, so they are reluctant to confront the addiction.
Why Do Families Enable?
It can be hard for families to see a loved one struggle with addiction. They want to attempt to provide a sense of purpose and meaning for the addict.
Yet, in their efforts, even when they realize their loved one needs help they cannot offer, the family experiences a sense of failure. Since they feel like they failed, the family enables their loved one’s substance abuse problem.
Treating Enabling and Addiction in Atlanta
For families with an addict, it is crucial to treat the addiction and the codependent behaviors that developed as a result of enabling. Families can begin treatment for their enabling even when their loved one is not yet ready to admit they need help.
Addressing enabling behaviors and learning how to stop helps families take a stance to remain firm. While difficult, it will make the addict realize they must face the consequences of their substance abuse disorder.
If you are ready to stop enabling your loved one, Buckhead Behavioral Health can help your family. We are also here to help your loved one when they are ready to seek treatment with our personalized addiction treatment programs for men, women, and teens.
To learn more about our enabling and addiction treatment programs, please contact us at 908-489-5564 today!