Understanding Addiction with Reflections Recovery Center

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

So many families are often confused on where to draw the line with helping a family member who is struggling with addiction – especially if that person is your child. Parents want to know how to help an addict without enabling… if you are enabling addiction, are you loving that person to death?

It is the natural instinct for parents to help their child and to provide for them – food, shelter, and assistance to keep them safe. However, the line needs to be drawn when you find that you are providing food, shelter and covering for their responsibilities only makes getting high or drinking easier for them. 

Why would your loved one have the motivation to change an unhealthy lifestyle if it is so easy just to stay where they are at? This is what keeps many stuck in the cycle of addiction, with no desire to get out. That doesn’t mean that you need to cut off your loved one complete, nor should you put them into dangerous situations in an attempt to force them to change. Instead, you need to provide the right kind of help for an addicted loved one.

Enabling Addiction: The Wrong Way to Help a Loved One Struggling with Drug and Alcohol Abuse 

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Examples of How Loved Ones Enable Addiction and Substance Abuse 

In order to know the right way to help a loved one struggling with addiction to heroin, pills, alcohol, or other substances, you first need to recognize the behaviors that do not help. These are enabling behaviors and should be avoided.

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Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Denial (Refusing to Accept the Reality that A Loved One Is Addicted) 

Denial is a behaviors that is common surrounding substance abuse – and both the addict and those around them can have a hard time accepting the truth. Many parents ask how their addicted loved ones can be so crass or blatant with their drug and alcohol use, when they know what it is doing to those around them. Denial is very strong instinctive reflex to difficult situations.

The reality of the situation for the drug or alcohol user is that they have found themselves in a situation that is dire, and often denial is the only defense they have against a very harsh reality – that they are addicted.

For loved ones, denial is also very instinctive. Parents especially don’t want to see just how broken and in need of help, their children have become. Therefore, many loved ones don’t allow themselves to see the full severity of the addiction. This behavior not only keeps the family from formally realizing and addressing the extent of the addiction, but also sets an example for the addict. Remember, in the mind of an addict, the addiction is only as severe as the reaction of people closest to them.

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Avoiding (Ignoring the Fact That A Loved One Is Addicted) 

For severe addictions, it can be harder for a loved one to avoid the signs and symptoms. When an addiction is causing failing health, work life, or personal life, it is easy to recognize and harder to avoid. With high functioning and functioning addicts, avoidance and denial are easier.

The avoiding enabling behavior is more common in the early stages of substance abuse and addiction, and loved ones often write off the signs of a problem as a “phase” or a stage that the individual will outgrow. In fact, it is just the opposite – parents and loved ones need to address the problem while in its infancy before it progresses.

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Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Being Quiet (Failing to Speak to Them about Their Addiction) 

Talking to a loved one about their problems with drugs and alcohol is not easy, and usually the individual will purposely make talking about the problem more difficult or uneasy in an attempt to avoid the conversation altogether. Addicts and those with substance abuse problems don’t want to talk about it – they want you to leave them alone and keep a situation where it is easy to get high or drink. Much like denial, being quiet only allows the progressive disease of addiction to worsen.

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

 Allowing (Drug/Alcohol Abuse is Allowed in the Home or Controlled Environment) 

Many parents and loved ones that don’t understand the addiction, but recognize it, will often come to an agreement with the substance user. Drinking and using drugs is only allowed during certain times and under certain conditions, is an example of an attempt to create a controlled environment.

By creating a situation like this, you are only creating the illusion that the substance abuse is tolerated. You might think that you are only trying to lessen the dangers surrounding a loved one’s inevitable behavior, but when you look at it from the other side, these boundaries create an open situation where the substance abuse is tolerated, verified, and acceptable.

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Justifying (Making Excuses for Them to Abuse Drugs or Alcohol) 

Justifying is similar to allowing, in that it establishes certain substance abuse behaviors as acceptable. A great example of this type of behavior is when families justify substance abuse due to past traumas that the individual might have gone through.

PTSD and trauma should not be seen as qualifying conditions for substance abuse, rather they should be seen as risk factors. Allowing a loved one to lean on past events or existing medical conditions as an excuse for substance abuse and self-medicating blocks responsibility and accountability. In order for an individual to change their behaviors, they need to know and accept that their current behaviors are not justified and they need to be motivated to change.

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Being Ashamed (Trying to Protect the Family Image) 

Being ashamed is closely related to denial. This behavior happens when family members feel embarrassed or ashamed at the behavior of a loved one regarding their substance abuse. As a reaction to this shame, the family member often reacts in a toxic manner.

Disowning or cutting off the family member, refusing to communicate with that family member, or cutting the addict completely out of familial life and events are all reactions based off shame. While these reactions may seem justified in the mind of those feeling ashamed, they are not productive and can only hurt the addict and worsen their state.

It is important to note that the common reaction to these actions is often to care less about their worsening addictions and sink deeper into both depression and substance abuse.

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Lack of Accountability (Buying them Necessities, Paying Rent, or Bailing them Out of Jail/Emergencies) 

Lack of accountability stems from the addicts perceived lack of repercussions from continuing their substance abuse and negative behaviors. If there are no repercussions for their behaviors, why would they care to change? Accountability must be established, if the addict is going to motivate themselves to make a change.

It is important to note that there is a fine line between cutting off a loved one to leave them helpless and only providing support that will help the situation to better. The problem comes in when you are offering the basic necessities but not a way to get out of the situation where they depend on you for those necessities.

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Trying to Control (Attempting to Control a Loved One’s Behaviors) 

This type of enabling behavior is rarer than others, but is extremely toxic to the addict. Controlling the behaviors of the addict stems from codependency on the part of the loved one. In certain situations, a family member may feel emotionally dependent on the addict, and therefore uses enabling the substance abuse as a barter. They allow the substance abuse, or provide an environment where the substance abuse is accepted in order to feel emotionally connected to the addict.

If the addict depends on you to continue their addiction, than you are needed – right?

Enabling Behaviors in Drug and Alcohol Addiction and Codependency: Image Series

Say No to Enabling (And Yes to Help) 

The main difference between enabling an addict and offering them real help, is that real help offers the chance at bettering the addict’s life, getting them help to treat the addiction (not strengthen or feed it), and performing actions that can lead to recovery.

How to Help an Addict without Enabling 

Familial bonds make it difficult to understand where the line between enabling and helping lays. It is also extremely difficult to bring yourself to cut enabling behaviors, and can cause emotional distress. Simply put, reversing enabling behaviors and replacing them with honest help for an addict often needs the help of an intermediary. Breaking enabling behaviors is best done with the help of professionals during an intervention that involves all members of the family that make up the enabling structure. This is the first step in addressing the enabling behaviors and offering real help for the addict. It will take time for the addict to heal from their addictions and behaviors, but it also takes time for the family to learn how to help without enabling.

 

Help for Families Enabling a Drug Addict Son, Husband or Male Loved One 

Reflections Recovery knows and understands the struggles that families go through with a loved one, and we know that enabling behaviors like these cannot be broken overnight. We offer intervention services for the family to help with the initial stages of addressing substance abuse and addiction, and the help you receive from us follows through the entire continuum of treatment – through detox and therapy to aftercare and ongoing addiction support.

Call us today to take the first step in getting help for your loved one.

What real clients have to say about Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona
Reflections provided me with the tools that got me where i am today with 14 months sober.
— Ricky A, Long Beach CA
Reflections gave me a life and an opportunity to become part of society. They challenged me and shaped me into the man I want to be.
— Dyer K, Gilbert AZ
I learned how to stay sober, found my best friends and created a new life at Reflections
— David S, Phoenix AZ
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