Watching a loved one struggle with alcohol or drug addiction is one of the most painful experiences an individual can have. Addiction is a physically, emotionally, and psychologically devastating disease – and not just for the afflicted individual.
Close friends, family members, or significant others may watch their loved ones deteriorate and wonder WHY they can’t do anything to help. “If they really loved me, they would change.” The emotional torture of being completely and utterly helpless drives many loved ones to exacerbate a vicious cycle of enabling. While doing everything in your power to help your addicted loved one may seem to make sense at the time, things will not change until the addict hits rock bottom – and has nowhere else to go.
What is Enabling?
Essentially, enabling is the act of preventing an addict from hitting his or her personal bottom by coddling them and ‘supporting’ them in ways that are actually doing them harm. One of the most common forms of enabling is giving money to an active addict or alcoholic. If you are the parent of an individual who is battling substance dependency, offering financial support may seem like a no-brainer. Say, for example, your son – who has been struggling with heroin addiction – asks for $20 for food. “My child needs food in order to survive,” you might think to yourself. “I can’t stand by and watch him starve.” In reality, the likelihood that your son is going to spend that money on more heroin is exceptionally high.
Addiction is a disease of manipulation – those suffering will go to great lengths in order to get what they want (and what they want, in the vast majority of cases, is the next fix). While it can be easy to assume that your own child wouldn’t manipulate you, steal from you, or lie to your face, it is important to keep in mind just how insidious this disease is.
How To Say No to Giving Someone Money
Sadly, continuing to support your child financially is likely to exacerbate the illness, and – seeing as addiction is a progressive disease – it could ultimately lead to serious complications (such as overdose, or even death). Of course, saying ‘no’ will not come naturally, and setting boundaries can be difficult and painful.
For this reason, the families of addicts often choose to stage an intervention. What is an intervention? In so many words, an intervention allows the loved ones of the concerned individual to express their feelings while setting strict personal boundaries. It is absolutely crucial that interventions are organized and conducted by an experienced professional. If they are not, they may wind up doing more harm than good.
In most cases, the friends and family members of the subject of the intervention will write letters and read them in turn. These letters will explain how the symptoms of active addiction have affected them personally, and they will outline boundaries that the interventionist will help to maintain. One of the most common – and important – boundaries is that concerning money. “I will no longer give you money, no matter what you say it’s for. I am willing to help you go to treatment, but that’s the only financial support you’ll receive from me.” Once these boundaries have been established, it is important to seek the support you need in order to successfully maintain them.
Garden State Treatment Center
We at Garden State Treatment Center understand how difficult it can be to set and maintain a strict set of rules while you watch your loved one struggle. Fortunately, our team of experienced therapists, counselors, and addiction specialists are available to help. We will help you take the steps you need to get help for your loved one in a safe and effective way.