Admit To The Reality Of The Situation
Living in a fantasy world is often more appealing than dealing with the reality of your loved ones addiction problems, but by ignoring the problem, you are doing more damage. While it may seem easiest to turn a blind eye, it is important to be upfront with them, and let them know that you are aware of what is going on. The more often the addict has to face reality, the more likely they are to come to terms with the fact that they have a problem with addiction.
How To Get A Grip On Enabling Behaviors
Once an enabler recognizes that they are being manipulated, or acting as a self-imposed martyr, they may become resentful toward their addicted loved one. Anger and resentment might actually serve a purpose in providing the fuel for making necessary changes. When an enabler finds him or herself worn out, battle fatigued, frazzled, and depleted, they need to ask themselves these questions:
- Are the actions or reactions of other people causing me to suffer?
- Am I allowing myself to be used in the interest of someones recovery?
- Am I doing for them what they can do for themselves?
- Am I manipulating situations so that the person will behave as I see fit?
- Am I covering up for this persons mistakes or misdeeds?
- Am I creating a crisis by my enabling?
- Am I trying to prevent a crisis even though it is the natural course of events?
If the months or years of covering for your addicted loved one left you feeling physically and emotionally worn out, while not exacting any measurable change in their behaviors, you have fit the mold of an enabler. You put out the fires, one after the other, thinking you were doing the loving thing for them at the time. In hindsight, it becomes painfully clear that all you achieved was your own broken spirit.
No Shame In Getting Help
Learning ways on how to help an addict is always the best thing a loved one can do. Sometimes those ways can be difficult for a loved one to actually put into practice. How to support an addict without enabling is really the initial starting point for a loved one. You should want the best for your loved one, and enabling is never whats best for them. It is important to know that the end goal for an addict to get better is with treatment. There is only so much you can do for them. It will be vital that you support them while they are going through treatment. Make sure you encourage them and never make them feel ashamed for getting help. There is never any shame in getting help. If you have set many boundaries that has put a strain on your relationship with the addict, try to reach back out to them as they are going through treatment. Make an effort to spend more time with them, and ask them how their treatment is going. If you have a loved one yourself who is going through an addiction, please call us at and learn what more you can do to get them into treatment.
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Emerging Trends In Substance Misuse:
- MethamphetamineIn 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
- CocaineIn 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
- KratomIn 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.
What Its Like Loving An Addict
First, when you love an addict, you have to understand that their addiction takes precedence over everything else, including you. People can start to take it personally, and it understandably hurts them deeply to feel as if the addict they love only cares about the drugs or alcohol, but the addicts brain is driving them toward placing the substance at the top of their priority list.
No matter what an addict says or promises, they are only driven by their desire to continue using, and theres not much of anything you can do to change that.
Also when you love an addict, they are going to lie, cheat and steal to get what they want, which is more drugs or alcohol. They can be charming and manipulative when it serves their purposes, and as the loved one of an addict, its essential that you understand that it is nothing more than just that: manipulation.
When you love an addict, you may constantly feel that youre on edge, or worried when that dreaded phone call is going to come.
So what can you do when you love an addict?
Theres very little you can do, and you certainly cant fix the person. Addiction is a complex disease, and theres no amount of threatening or begging thats going to eliminate the problem. Instead, one of the best things you can do when you love an addict is making sure youre not enabling them.
What happens if that doesnt work though? When is it time to give up, and how can you let go of an addict you love?
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Dont Use Drugs Or Alcohol Around Them
Whether your loved one is actively using drugs and alcohol or is in early recovery, one way you can support them is by avoiding substance use yourself. Exposure to drugs and alcohol may trigger relapse or give them the idea that drug or alcohol use is acceptable. Instead, stay sober in their presence to support abstinence.
A List Of Examples Of Enabling Behavior That Lead To Codependency
To help explain what it means to enable someone with a drug or alcohol problem, it might be most helpful if we provide a list of examples of enabling behavior. Here are some scenarios where friends, family members, and co-workers might be guilty of enabling:
These are just a few of the most common examples of enabling behavior, which leads to codependent relationships. If you are engaging in any of these examples of enabling, you are hurting NOT helping.
When an addicted person is enabled by family and friends, it will inevitably drive them deeper into chemical dependency and rob them of experiencing the devastating repercussions of their own consequences.
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Loving An Addict Without Enabling
When you love someone with an addiction, you want to give them all of the support you can. But, in the process, you may be doing things that are actually enabling their addiction rather than helping them. It can sometimes be difficult to know where to draw the line. But, if you truly want to help, loving an addict means finding ways to support them without enabling.
Were going to look at how you may be acting as an enabler as well as useful ways you can offer love and support.
Dedicated To Supporting The Loved Ones Of Addicts
Does everything seem to revolve around the addict in your family? How does a family members drug addiction hurt your family? We will address how addiction impacts not only the addict but their entire family and give you some suggestions on how to help your family heal. Then, we invite your questions, comments, and experiences at the end.
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The Secret To Helping An Addict
The secret to helping an addict is NOT HELPING an addict! You might be asking what this means and how can you differentiate between which actions help and which actions do not help. The lines may become blurred, especially when children are involved. However, one thing is very clear: if you find yourself doing anything more than your share for the sole reason that an addict is getting high, you are enabling.
Helping an addict husband, spouse, or loved one is really no secret at all, it just seems that way because no one really takes the most appropriate approach to dealing with an addicted loved one. People seem to do the opposite and try to help the person they love by taking care of them. This natural instinct is acceptable in other circumstances but not when someone is deep into addiction and when that addiction is destroying your relationship, home, and family.
Why Enabling Will Never Be A Solution To Battling The Disease Of Addiction
Addiction is a complex brain disease that can only be treated with specialized addiction treatment services. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , repeated drug use changes the brain, including parts of the brain that give a person self-control. These and other changes can be seen clearly in brain imaging studies of people with a drug addiction. For this reason, someone struggling with chemical dependency needs professional help to overcome their problem.
No amount of enabling will ever fix or cure the disease of addiction. It will only make the situation worse. Any effort you put forth to lessen the pain of an addict or alcoholic will be futile. The only real way someone with a drug or alcohol problem will be motivated to get help is when they are forced to feel the pain addiction is causing them. This can only happen if the people closest to them will allow that to happen.
The challenge in dealing with an addicted person is that they usually cant see that they have a problem because they are blinded by denial. They will minimize the severity of their addiction and tell themselves it isnt that bad. As a result, you may find yourself engaged in a constant battle trying to show the person they are sick.
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Remember: There Is A Difference Between Self
People who love addicts often put themselves second. If you are one of these people then it is important that you learn to distinguish between self-care and selfishness. Self-care simply means that you are looking after your own health and wellbeing it does not mean that you are being selfish. If you fail to prioritise your own mental and physical health while focusing on someone else, your wellbeing will begin to suffer.
How To Love An Addict By Setting Boundaries
The reality is most people enable anothers addiction in an attempt to meet their own needs. They desire attention, stability or love.
But, over time, their perceptions, reactions, and even their emotional needs become warped because of the damage and distortion of the disease of addiction.
A few techniques you can implement to set appropriate boundaries with your addicted loved one include:
- Stop immediately bailing them out
Right now, stop covering them monetarily. That means they need to be responsible for paying their bills, buying gas for their car, covering their own expenses and managing their own financial obligations.
If they can afford to perpetuate their addictive behaviors they can find a way to cover all other expenses and obligations in their life. Its called personal responsibility for a reason.
- Stop covering up for their addictive behaviors
Whether its lying to their employer to cover for their substance use or making excuses to family and friends to avoid your addicted loved one getting into trouble of some sort, covering for their addictive behaviors is helping no one.
Their addiction may be negatively impacting other areas of their life and they need to feel those consequences to begin learning from the mistakes.
- Stop doing things theyre capable of doing themself
Encouraging your loved one to conquer the daily tasks on their own works to build their self-confidence and helps them take necessary steps forward on their personal recovery journey.4
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How To Stop Enabling
If you recognize some of the signs of enabling in your relationship, there are steps that you can take to address the issue. Finding ways to empower your loved one instead of enabling them can help them work toward recovering from their addiction. And confronting your own enabling behaviors can improve your own mental and emotional well-being.
Morteza And Karen Khaleghi List Several Clear Signs That Someone Is Enabling An Addict:
- Ignoring the addicts negative or potentially dangerous behavior This behavior can involve anything from overlooking problems to denying that a problem even exists
- Difficulty expressing emotions Enablers are often unsure how to express their feelings, especially if there are negative repercussions for doing so
- Prioritizing the addicts needs before their own While it is natural to want to help loved ones, enabling takes helping a step too far, where the addict has her needs taken care of while the enabler neglects her own
- Acting out of fear Since addiction can cause frightening events, the enabler will do whatever it takes to avoid such situations
- Lying to others to cover the addicts behavior An enabler will lie to keep the peace and to present a controlled, calm exterior
- Blaming people or situations other than the addict To protect the addict from the consequences of drug abuse, the enabler might accuse other people of causing drug abuse
- Resenting the addict The result of the above behaviors is that the enabler will likely feel angry and hurt. They may act on these feelings by resenting the addict all while continuing to enable the addiction.
If you notice these behaviors in yourself or a loved one, then know that they may enable addiction.
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Loving An Addict Without Enabling Them
The debate about the difference between enabling an addict and helping an addict has gone on for as long as, if not longer than, the drug crisis has been an issue. As more and more people require drug and alcohol rehabilitation, support groups have become a popular tool to help families come together and support each other through dealing with a loved ones addiction and inspiring hope that recovery is possible. These groups also stress the importance of not enabling your addicted loved one.
Many of these support groups believe the largest barrier to getting an individual willing to accept any type of drug or alcohol rehabilitation help is when families enable them to continue using or drinking without consequence.
Put simply, the word enabling refers to any behavior a family, friend, or co-worker might do that allows an addict or alcoholic to continue drinking or using drugs.
The opposite of enabling is helping.
By helping, it means that any form of support that would prevent an addicted individual from seeking help is immediately stopped.
Stopping this enabling behavior is often difficult for a lot of families because it may feel as though it violates every parental instinct a person has. Its actually quite the contrary. If an addict or alcoholic believes that their behavior has no consequences and no matter what, the family will give them a safety net, undying support, and a warm bed, often theres no real urgency to try to get help.
The Definition Of Enabling And Codependency
In relationship to drug addiction and alcoholism, most people have heard the term enabling, but they are not exactly sure what it means let alone know how to recognize it when it happens. When you care about someone with a drug or alcohol problem, you feel desperate, hopeless, and helpless. You become willing to do almost anything to lessen the pain and manage the problems caused by the addiction. Indeed, it is quite common to confuse helping with enabling and unintentionally forge codependent relationships.
Websters definition of enable is to provide with the means or opportunity to make possible, practical, or easy. When you think of it this way, the word enabling actually means the same thing as the word empowering.
According to a WebMD article,Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy clinginess, where one person doesnt have self-sufficiency or autonomy, says Scott Wetzler, PhD, psychology division chief at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
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Are You An Enabler
Enablers are those who do things for addicts that they would have been able to do themselves if they were sober. When you enable someone, youre protecting them from the consequences of their addiction. In this way, theyll never feel the effects of their actions, so they wont feel like they have a problem or need help.
Here are several ways to tell that you may be an enabler:
- You make excuses for them.
- You take over their responsibilities.
- You save them from the legal consequences of their addiction.
Enablers come from a good place of wanting to help. But, instead of empowering the individual, they make it easier for them to continue their addiction. When you enable someone, you may also turn a blind eye to their problem. You know there is a problem, but you hope you can fix it by doing everything for them. In the end, youre only hurting them and exhausting yourself in the process.