When you love or care about someone, you don’t want to see this person hurt. Whether emotionally or physically, you do not want to see them suffer and would do anything to help them. This is understandable and normal in a family, spousal, or dear friend setting.
When that person you love and care for is an addict, there is a line that is, innocently, often crossed between helping and enabling. Helping addicts without enabling them is possible, but requires the proper knowledge and professional help to successfully intervene.
What is the Difference Between Helping and Enabling?
Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling is doing for someone things that they could and should be doing themselves. Enabling gives an addict ways to use without consequences. Many families want to fix the addict’s problems, but many end up unknowingly contributing to their addiction instead of helping.
It is not a guarantee, but putting a stop to the enabling and letting the addict face the consequences of their substance abuse may give them a reason to access his or her problem and seek help on their own and finally start their path to recovery.
So you may have realized you have been enabling and don’t know what to do now or how to stop. This is a very tough decision to make because you don’t want to hurt him or her, but realize this; you are hurting them if you don’t stop the enabling. First, you want to ask yourself if the addict could do what you are doing if they were not using it? Here are a couple of ways where you can start helping and stop enabling:
- Do not allow the addict to continue their current lifestyle – Are you paying any bills that the addict could be paying himself or herself? They may have lost their job due to their addiction and will continue to use and not be in any hurry in finding another one if they don’t have to pay bills or rent due to you enabling and paying for them. The addict needs to experience this consequence due to his or her own addiction.
- Do not do things for the addict that they could do themselves – Maybe the addict had their car repossessed and doesn’t have a ride to a job interview or an AA meeting. Giving him or her a ride to or from is helping because this is something they cannot do on his or her own. Enabling is looking up the meeting schedule or searing in the want ads for jobs that the addict is capable of all by themselves.
- Let the addict experience his or her consequences from their actions – He or she may get arrested and go to jail from actions of their addiction. Do not bail and/or pay their fines. This will only allow the addict to not fully take on their consequence.
There are many ways to which you could be enabling that can be extremely difficult to quit. Know that no matter what you do, you cannot control what another person does, but you can control what you do. You can control what goes on in your life and what boundaries to set for what is acceptable or not. While trying to not enable any further, it is a good idea to get support from others that are going through this. Al-Anon and Families Anonymous are support groups that deal with families and addicts.
We Can Help You at Garden State Treatment Center
We at Garden State Treatment Center help families get their loved ones back from their addiction and back to a life of recovery. Garden State Treatment Center is an outpatient and partial care addiction treatment facility that offers nuanced levels of care for individuals struggling with the horrors of substance abuse. It is our explicit goal to help addicted clients rebuild their lives from the inside out and reintegrate themselves back into society.