If you have a loved one who has a substance abuse disorder, then you’ve probably heard of enabling.
As an addiction treatment center in Palm Springs, we understand that while people may believe they’re helping their loved ones, they’re actually encouraging their habit. Although your intentions may be good, there are certain ways you can incite a person’s addiction without realizing it.
Enabling vs Helping an Addict
So, what’s enabling and how is it different from helping? When you enable someone, your behavior will allow a loved one to continue a self-destructive pattern of behavior. Enabling is to do something for someone else that they can and should be doing on their own. For example, if your addicted loved one often lies about their drug abuse, defending them or making excuses for them would be a form of enabling. They should and must be honest about their drug use to recover. Being an enabler to the addict often only worsens the situation and makes them believe that they can continue abusing drugs and alcohol without repercussions.
Some common signs of enabling include:
- Ignoring reckless or questionable behavior
- Making excuses for their behavior
- Denying the problems in their behavior
- Covering up or lying for the person
- Always putting the individual’s needs before everyone else’s (this often causes problems in family dynamics)
- Resentment for the individual person
- Belief that you can “save” or change the person on your own
- Using the substance yourself
On the other hand, helping someone refers to actively supporting an individual’s choices and steps that lead to recovery. For example, if your loved one has acknowledged their addiction, you would help them by helping them find addiction treatment. Individuals who are close to someone who has a substance abuse disorder often have a tough time differentiating between enabling and helping because they don’t want to upset the individual. Helping an addict without enabling requires a disciplined form of love that supports positive changes.
At Banyan Treatment Centers Palm Springs, we offer various forms of addiction treatment in California that treat various substances. From alcoholism to prescription drug addiction, our team can help.
3 Tips on How to Stop Enabling an Addict
If you’ve cared for this individual for a while, then learning how to stop being an enabler to a drug addict or alcoholic can be a serious learning curve. Below are a few ways to stop enabling an addict and learn how to help them instead.
Encourage honesty and transparency
The bulk of enabling is choosing to deny the person’s addiction or excusing their lies about their problem. Enabling can be greatly diminished and avoided by enforcing honesty. Slowly break the pattern of lying in your relationship with the individual. Gently call them out when you catch them lying and ask them to be honest with you. They’ll probably be upset about this, but remember it’s necessary to help them get better.
Create boundaries and stay committed to them
If you make plans with the individual and they’re too high or intoxicated to show up, do it without them. If you’ve committed to not allowing them to live with you, then don’t. Instead, help them find a place to live, help them find a job, and of course help them find substance abuse treatment. Consistency is important in a relationship with an addict because they will often take advantage of any opportunity to manipulate the situation.
Get help for yourself
Another big aspect of enabling is constantly putting the addict’s needs above your own. Not only is this harmful to them, but it’s also not healthy for yourself. If you’re active in an addict’s life, you should get help for yourself as well. Enabling can result in codependency when left unchecked, as well as resentment. A long-term pattern of enabling can destroy the relationship. At our rehab center in California we offer a variety of unique programs and therapies including a family program. We also offer additional alumni support and stabilization help for patients to help them break the relapse cycle.