By Jack Barnes
Addiction is a painful experience. We all want what’s best for our loved ones and seeing them go through the terrible ordeal of addiction can be difficult. Unfortunately, while we act in the hopes of guiding them through these difficult times, we may unknowingly be harming or even reversing their progress. This not only hurts those addicted but those trying to help. So how do you recognize if you are enabling an addict?
- You Make Excuses for Them
This is one of the telltale signs of enabling and can be incredibly dangerous. You may engage in this type of enabling to maintain relationships and shift the blame onto something else. But by making excuses, not only are you allowing them to continue their behavior, but also allowing them to dodge the responsibility. This can have adverse effects, as this allows the addict to justify their behavior citing your excuses. So how do you stop this? By forcing the addict to recognize the effects of their actions, regardless of the situation they might be in. This can be difficult to do on your own, so you may have to consider an addiction treatment program.
- Ignoring the Problem
This is in stark contrast to the behavior mentioned above. However, this also has major consequences. By refusing to confront the problem, you may create an environment in which the addict is unable to confront it as well. Taking the step to getting better involves accepting that you have a problem. This is extremely difficult to do when you believe there is no problem in the first place. Even though it can be hard, it is up to you to realize that your loved ones are addicted and find professional help.
Another type of enabling is hoping that they will get better on their own. We’d like to believe our loved ones are strong. The reality is, when faced with addiction, everyone breaks down. Most people are not strong enough to combat addiction on their own, and that is okay. What is not okay, is failing to recognize whether or not they need professional help. The mind of an addict cannot logically recognize that they have a problem. Thus, they cannot make the push to get better. It is up to you to realize that they are not strong enough to go through this without help.
- Financing Their Needs
It’s no secret that an addiction requires large amounts of money to maintain. An addict can make dangerous decisions involving money to further fuel their addiction. As he or she is in no state for employment, they will have to get their money elsewhere, and who are they going to turn to? You. An addict will even go so far as to use money meant for essentials like food and rent to support their behavior. While it can be tempting to lend some money for their basic needs, there is absolutely no guarantee that they won’t use it to buy illicit substances. Do not make the mistake of being financially responsible for an addict, as this can not only enable them but can even land in you a position where you are unable to help.
- Prioritizing Their Needs
This can be harmful to both the addict and the enabler. Enablers often neglect their own health and responsibilities when taking care of an addict. This not only hurts you but also may prevent them from getting the help they need. Guiding an addict towards sobriety requires you be there for them. But by ignoring your own responsibilities, you may be burdened yourself with more than you can handle. Understand when you are out of your league and allow them to take responsibilities for their actions.
Addiction is hard on addicts and those around them as well. It is important that you do not enable their behavior while trying to help. Good intentions can have negative consequences. Now that you know what enabler behavior looks like, you’ll know what to avoid.
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