Helping or Hurting?
Addiction is a menacing disease that effects every aspect of the user’s life. When a loved one is struggling with addiction, it is normal for families to want to help solve the crisis. When you are dealing with someone struggling with addiction, it’s important to understand the difference between helping them and enabling their disease.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by their problems and get caught up in their insanity.
When you love and care for someone struggling with addictions it can be baffling and exasperating. When you are watching a loved one partake in destroying their life with drugs and or alcohol, you impatiently want to help in any possible way. You want them to be safe and sober, no matter the suffering that you may be facing. There is a fine line between helping and hurting.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF ENABLING:
- Avoiding conflict to keep the peace
- Denying the severity of their addiction
- Thinking that the user will “smarten up” and stop on their own
- Lecturing, guilting and criticizing their addicted loved one.
- Taking on the responsibilities of the user
- Constantly coming to the rescue
- Treating and supporting the addicted person as they are a child.
- Financially supporting, even if that person is a grown adult.
- Always willing to give “just one more chance”, or “this is the last time”
Even though the family’s intentions may be good, not knowing the difference between helping or hurting may end up aiding their addictions
You must start empowering you loved one’s recovery not their addiction! It is your choice whether you will continue to engage in behaviors that will continue to enable your loved one in active addiction. Cutting someone off or not participating in enabling behaviors is not an easy task. Continuing to act in such a manner is essentially giving someone else permission to continue using drugs or alcohol while they are mistaking your love and compassion as a sign of weakness.
So, what can you do?
- Get support for yourself.
- Stop putting the addicted person’s needs before your own
- Learn how to say “NO”
- Avoid blaming yourself for their actions and behaviors
- Stop giving financially support to the alcoholic or addict
- Consider staging an intervention.
- Set healthy boundaries and stick to them
- Don’t argue, discipline, or plead with them
“I must learn to give those I love the right to make their own mistakes and recognize them as theirs alone.”
― Al-Anon Family Groups, Courage to Change-One Day at a Time in Al‑Anon II: Part 1
Watching a loved one struggle through addiction and not being able to help is one of the hardest things a family member or a loved one will ever have to go through. You must accept the fact that the decisions the addict are making are theirs and theirs alone. You have to accept the fact that there is little you can do until they are ready to stop, and when they are they will know you will be there to hold their hand and guide them into the journey of recovery.