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How You Can Stop Enabling Addiction

How You Can Stop Enabling an Addict

It’s difficult to state the exact percentage of people currently addicted to some form of substance. In 2018, estimates were that 53.2 million people used illicit drugs within the past month. Compared to 2015’s census that recorded little less than 27.1 million, it’s obvious that substance abuse problem has inclined over the last couple of years.

What is enabling?

Family members should be helpful towards one another. In healthy family relationships, one family member may do the dishes or laundry to help the other person slammed by other obligations such as work. When two or more people share tasks, it’s called being helpful. When you give money to the family member in need, it’s also called being helpful, but enabling behavior towards addiction is in fact something other than help. It’s taking all their responsibilities and tasks they’re capable of doing by themselves so they have more time and resources for the bad deeds.

Are you really helping or hurting your addict?

Think about it…

There are many ways to enable an addict:

  • Every day, a mother cleans her son’s room when he goes out. Deep inside she knows he’s an addict, and she’s looking for something to prove her theory, but she hopes not to find anything.
  • Jim gives money to his sister Sarah every month even though he knows she’ll buy drugs for this money. At least he knows that she won’t get into criminal activity to obtain the money.
  • Lisa is a twenty-something girl in college. She spends days in classes and works night shifts. Her boyfriend doesn’t work, doesn’t pay rent and lives of her expense. He’s binge drinking with his friends almost every night after Lisa heads off to work.
  • John is a well-respected businessman. This is the third time his son Henry is calling to bail him out of jail. His father will do it because he doesn’t need bad publicity.

These are some of the common scenarios. Families think they’re helping when they’re in fact making everything even worse. An addict will take your time, your money, your energy—and leave you soulless.

I know I’m enabling, but…

Do you have an addict that you love more than anything else in your life? And you’re probably aware that you’re enabling their addiction, masked under ‘helping’? For how long you’re going to be doing this?

There are a few possible reasons you’ve been doing this. The first and the most common one may be the lack of information—it could be that nobody has told you what you can do instead. How can you help as opposed to enabling their addiction?

The second reason could be that you know what to do, but it’s not working. Doing this makes the situation even worse than it was. The problems will only continue to get worse.

What can you do instead?

How a person responds to an addict’s behavior is of crucial importance in veering them off the path they’re stumbled on.

There’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to enabling—if you must lie in order to “help” to someone else, you’re probably not doing any good. No matter how many times they promise to change and quit, they’ll probably break their promises.

The only real solution for helping an addict is signing them in a detox facility, but it must be voluntary. The decision to get help has to be their own. In the professional facility, they’ll get a personalized treatment plan specially tailored to their needs and the level of addiction.

Don’t close your eyes in front of addiction

A study conducted by the Dublin Institute of Technology concluded that substance abuse leaves a significant detrimental effect on a family over the years. Recognizing and treating addiction in your loved one isn’t something that anyone would find to be pleasant. In fact, many families turn the other cheek in attempts to downplay the addict’s behavior. Some families go even that far in their enabling that they pretend nothing is happening and that the addiction doesn’t even exist. Research has shown that if denial is present at the beginning of the recovery, it can lead to post-trauma later in life.

A 2011 study presented alarming results for the future of America. It is said that a quarter of those who try any addictive substance before the legal age end up addicted. Bearing in mind that most people try drugs for the first time when they’re teenagers, it’s no wonder we have so many addicts. It’s time to stop closing our eyes in front of the problems our loved ones are facing.

Brooks V.
Brooks V.
Brooks has been a freelance journalist for the better part of two decades, as well as spending a decade as a crisis intervention counselor. Through his own work and researching the work of others throughout the many facets of the detox, crisis intervention, and mental health worlds he has been able to tell the stories of those worlds in an effort to help addicts and those with mental illnesses understand and navigate them.