Wanting the best for those closest to you is a commendable desire. The compassion and empathy you’ve displayed toward your loved ones has solidified relationships and created a situation in which your family members and closest friends turn to you in times of need for guidance and personal assistance.
Empathy, however, can morph into acts of enabling if given the right circumstances.
If you have an addict in your life, it’s understandable that you want to help them, especially during their darkest hours. But providing assistance to an addict who continues to make the same mistakes robs them of the ability to genuinely learn from the consequences.
While your efforts may be rooted in benevolence, the results can compound problems. Your addicted loved one may believe that someone will always be there to bail them out of trouble. This hinders true progress toward sobriety.
By learning to temper the assistance you provide to your addicted loved one can help them in the long run by forcing them to confront the true problem propagating their addictive struggles: themselves.
What is Enabling, Exactly?
This is a common question among supportive family members attempting to intercede on behalf of their addicted loved one. You care for your loved one deeply and would do anything to help ease their struggles and pain. More times than not, you probably:
- Support them through their addiction with food, shelter and, perhaps, a vehicle
- Come to their aid when they fall on hard times
- Provide monetary assistance when they fail to meet personal obligations
While your actions come from a place of unconditional love, the consequences of their actions work in contrast to the goals you’re attempting to achieve.
When you constantly facilitate your loved one’s escape from the consequences of their dysfunctional behavioral patterns, you are significantly stunting their growth.
By constantly fixing, solving or making their problems go away, you are reinforcing their maladaptive behaviors and enabling their addiction.
Without question, your intentions define the noblest of human instincts. However, your actions are deteriorating your loved one’s ability to fight their addictive behaviors and prohibiting them from achieving personal growth and success.
How to Stop Enabling an Addict
Learn to Set Appropriate Boundaries.
When you realize that enabling is a part of your supportive approach, the incentivizing, bribing and bargaining must stop. When you establish hard and fast rules and place responsibility back on the person who made the harmful choices, you’re taking the first step in discontinuing the habitual process of enabling.
Your addicted loved one has grown accustom to you racing to their rescue whenever their negative behaviors result in a less than ideal consequence. This has established a false sense of self within their being and reinforced the misconception that their addictive behaviors have no real negative impact on their life.
Remove the Veil.
Enabling produces illusions. When you reveal your loved one’s addiction in broad daylight, you force them to finally face their addiction and the maladaptive consequences associated with their addictive behavioral patterns.
Removing your constant support and unwavering assistance does not mean you have stopped loving them or wish harm on them. It simply means you are drawing a line in the sand and asking that they begin interceding on their own behalf.
Step into an Accountability Role.
You can still encourage your loved one to overcome their addiction and provide verbal support and emotional reassurance. But placing the responsibility on them to begin addressing their substance use disorder and embracing the consequences is the most empowering action you can offer them.
If your loved one wants to get clean, you can become an accountability support in their life. Help them set clear goals, regularly check in with them, help them track their process, and follow through on consequences if they break any agreed upon rules. If necessary, help them find an addiction recovery facility where they can receive the expert addiction, medical and relapse prevention support they need to get and stay sober.
Find Your Balance
Finding the balance between empowerment and enabling is no simple task. Providing an addicted loved one with support and encouragement can help them stand back up when they hit rock bottom and provide them with the motivation necessary to overcome addiction.
However, going too far in empowerment and protection will only work against your efforts in the long run. Addiction doesn’t just hurt the addicted; it fundamentally wreaks havoc on family members and loved ones. When you cease all enabling acts, you have started down your own road of recovery. It will hurt to see them stumble without you to pick them up. But, undoubtedly, it will hurt so much more to see their addiction prolonged.
You have the power to help them connect their choices to the consequences and learn from their experiences. You have the power to provide them with the perspective necessary to begin the recovery process and the personal responsibility required to complete the journey.
Holistic Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
You can exhaust every avenue and resource to help your loved one quit abusing and get clean. Ultimately, an addict’s recovery must start with them recognizing they have a problem and wanting to get better.
Breaking an enabling cycle could be the exact thing your loved one needs to wake up and realize it’s time to get help.
Offering an alternative to the traditional twelve step program, Ranch Creek Recovery offers a variety of
all-encompassing, holistic in-patient treatment services. Your loved one’s situation is unique; their treatment must be customized to fit their individual recovery needs.
Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.