Enabling is the act of shielding a loved one who is struggling with addiction from the consequences of his or her substance abuse. Families can enable the addiction without even knowing they are doing so. Many actions that family members or loved ones take with the intention of helping do more harm than good.
Addiction And Codependent Relationships
Families enable addiction because it is often more comfortable than facing the problem of loved ones struggling with addictions. This is the same reason the loved one abuses drugs and alcohol. This connection makes it easier for people struggling with addiction to teach their families to enable them. When families enable addiction, they make addiction comfortable for those abusing drugs or alcohol. Thus, they have no reason to quit or seek help, and it creates codependent relationships.
Four Enabling Behaviors Taught To Families
People with addictions teach family members that the addiction is the fault of anyone or anything other than themselves. Loved ones then feel guilty for not having helped or solved the problem. Guilty families become enabling families.
Loved ones experience the threat of a host of consequences if they do not enable addiction. The fear of the person abusing drugs or alcohol hating them, never speaking to them again, committing suicide, or dying teaches families to enable.
Those struggling with addiction use hope as a tool to teach enabling behaviors. Their loved ones hold on to the hope that the addicted family member has a plan for recovery. As a result, the loved ones wait for an incident or person to inspire change and do nothing themselves.
People who struggle with addiction often see themselves as victims. They believe that their terrible life has led them to their addiction. They convince others of this situation as well, inspiring guilt and dodging accountability.
Denial And Addiction In Families
Enabling not only hurts the person struggling with addiction, it will cause problems that affect the entire family. Arguing about the enabling behaviors and addiction disrupts once-peaceful families. Money and resources that would normally go to the entire family are spent on furthering an addiction. Other family members become resentful and anger distorts open communication lines in the family. Denial delays treatment for the loved one struggling with addiction.
Are You Enabling Addiction?
Many family members do not even know they are enabling addiction. They tell themselves that their behaviors are helping. While these actions do come from a place of love and caring, they often do more harm than good. It is important to note that pointing out these behaviors is not meant to place blame on family and loved ones. The purpose is to better understand why family members take part in these behaviors and help them stop.
Helping Obtain Substances
This comes in the form of giving money, or a ride to the liquor store or dealer. Even if this happens with the intent of preventing their loved one from getting behind the wheel, it is enabling.
Turning A Blind Eye
It may seem like a safer option to allow a loved one to use the substance in the house. However, this only provides them with a comfortable and consequence-free place to use.
Lying To Cover For Addiction
Family members can lie to cover for their loved one’s addiction too. Making up an excuse to an authority figure or downplaying the problem to someone showing concern is shielding the problem from the world and from help.
It can be easy to make empty threats and not follow through. A lack of boundaries reaffirms enabling behavior in the family member and addiction in their loved one.
Taking On Your Loved One’s Responsibilities
Paying for bills, searching for a job, or cleaning up after a loved one with addiction makes them more comfortable and less likely to seek help.
A family member experiences emotional, physical, or financial stress due to the person struggling with addiction. If the regular interactions that a family member goes through to protect this person from the consequences of his or her actions causes undue strain on emotions and relationships, it is enabling.
No Sign Of Change
Family members may continue to help their loved one despite seeing no signs of that person getting better. If there are no changes, something is not working.
Healthier Behaviors Instead Of Enabling
Enabling behaviors prevent consequences and accountability. Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction begins with the person struggling with addiction becoming accountable for his or her actions.
As a family member or loved one of someone with an addiction, be sure to set clear boundaries. There is no need to clean up their messes, give them money, lie to others for them, or protect them from authority. Follow through on those boundaries for their sake and the wellness of the family.
Don’t be a supplier of temptation. If they struggle with drinking, don’t bring them to places where alcohol is easily available or drink around them. Encourage sobriety by helping them to find sober activities they enjoy. Remember to practice self-care. Enabling an addiction is not only unsafe for the person struggling, but also for the person enabling. Constant guilt and fear have a destructive effect on mental health.
Addiction Intervention For Families
Family support for an addiction is important for everyone. An intervention gets the entire family involved and sets up a treatment plan for recovery and provides family support for addiction. Within that plan, everyone is accountable for their own actions in relation to addiction and enabling addiction.
An intervention allows the entire family to communicate and understand the full effects that enabling an addiction are having on everyone. Act before addiction creates bankruptcy, overdose, or a broken family. A family intervention is the first place to start if your family is in a cycle of codependency, denial, enabling, and addiction.