Am I Enabling My Loved One?

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When you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, it only makes sense to want to do anything in your power to help them. Unfortunately, sometimes an attempt to help someone in need will only make things worse. Even though you have the best of intentions when trying to help a friend or family member, you could be making it easier for them to fall into bad habits or cause them to relapse. This is called enabling, and it can lead to serious problems for someone who is trying desperately to become sober.

Enabling Vs. Helping

One of the worst things about enabling a loved one is that it often looks a lot like helping. This is why it’s so important that you know the difference between enabling someone who is struggling with addiction and actually helping them. When you help someone, you are doing something for them that they aren’t capable of doing for themselves. On the other hand, an enabler does things for someone who can and should be doing those things for themselves.

It’s often used in the context of drug and alcohol abuse, but it applies to other scenarios as well. For example, giving someone some money and a place to stay when they can’t afford to take care of themselves does look a lot like you’re helping someone in need. When that person refuses to get a job or try to support themselves because they can just rely on you, you’re enabling them. You might have the best intentions, but in the end, everyone needs to learn how to take care of themselves, and they’ll never learn if someone is always going to be there to get them out of trouble.

Signs of Enabling

The best way to avoid enabling a loved one is to know what enabling looks like. The first sign of enabling is avoiding or denying the underlying problem. Nobody likes to admit that a loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol any more than they want to admit that they have a problem themselves. Unfortunately, that denial will only make things worse. Your loved one might not see a reason to change their ways if you act like nothing needs to change. Another sign of enabling is putting your loved one’s responsibilities above your own.

There is obviously nothing wrong with caring for someone else and making sure that their needs are met, but not if it means doing things that should be their responsibility. The third major sign of enabling is the feeling of resentment that you might feel towards your loved one. Yes, it’s probably unfair to resent someone who is struggling with drugs and alcohol. After all, addiction is a disease, and you can’t fault someone for being ill. On the other hand, it’s hard not to feel resentment for someone who refuses to change and seek help for their addiction. If you start to resent your loved one for not trying to become sober and healthy, you need to make it clear that things need to change.

How to Stop Being an Enabler

The best way to stop being an enabler is to confront the underlying problem. In this case, the problem is your loved one’s addiction. Make it clear that you know that your loved one has a problem and that they need help. Be supportive, but tell them what needs to change. Create boundaries and make it clear that there will be consequences if those boundaries are crossed. If they do cross those boundaries or refuse to get help, let them face the consequences of their actions.

That may sound harsh, but not if the reason why they won’t stop using is because of the environment you’ve provided. If they believe that they won’t have the support they once had, that might be the wake-up call that they need to get healthy. All of this doesn’t mean that you should abandon your loved one in their time of need. On the contrary, you can still support them and make sure they get the help they need.

The only thing you’re doing is providing an environment where they need to get help and become healthier. Once they are ready to seek help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 833-285-1315. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you might have and find an addiction treatment program that is right for your loved one. They just might need a wake-up call before they get to that point.

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