Finding out a loved one is suffering from addiction is both painful and a challenge. It moves us to help as an initial response, knowing that addiction is not just any battle someone can easily overcome alone. Addiction is a chronic disease that needs treatment and intervention. Alongside those are genuine love and support from the families and friends of those suffering from the disease. We always want to help make things easier for our loved ones, but do we know how to help an addict without enabling? In this article, we will find out how.
What Is Enabling?
Enabling happens when a family or friend of an individual with addiction unintentionally and excessively supports the addiction. It is very common among people who have loved ones suffering from addiction. People who enable come off as cushions, making things a lot easier for those with addiction and preventing them from suffering the consequences of or taking accountability over their actions. When you enable someone with addiction, you provide them the liberty to continue taking the drug or alcohol and reinforce them not to get treated. When enabling occurs, boundaries and respect are unclear in the relationship.
How Enabling Can Look Like
People with loved ones suffering from addiction enable the addict. They enable them because they blame themselves for what happened to their loved ones. Their guilt makes them sacrifice their boundaries, energy, money, and time. They do this because they think this will help their loved one, without realizing they are only creating a barrier towards recovery.
Below are ways on how enabling can manifest in relationships:
Denial. Denial is a primary behavior of families when they find out a loved one is suffering from addiction. They do not recognize the problem, leading them to refuse to seek the necessary treatment for their loved ones.
Justification. Alongside denial is justification. Part of not acknowledging the issue is making up excuses for the actions of their loved ones suffering from addiction. They develop this mentality where they think this is just a phase and they will get over it.
Suppression. Keeping your feelings and concerns about the issue to the family member suffering from addiction only reinforces them to think that whatever they are doing is okay.
Protection of image. Stigma towards addiction has always existed. People end up feeling ashamed over the fact that their loved one is suffering from addiction. The guilt and shame lead them to protect the image of the individual and their family. They portray the individual with addiction in a better light to friends and other people outside the family.
Control. Imposing control on someone with addiction will only make things worse. Do not make them feel inferior or restricted. Control will only lead them to lean on their peers suffering from addiction too.
Take on responsibilities. Families tend to take over simple tasks for the member suffering from addiction. Taking on responsibilities happens because the family thinks they are making things more manageable. The member with addiction only gives into their addiction even more.
How To Help An Addict Without Enabling
Here are ways on how to help an addict without enabling:
Rehab. Encourage your loved ones suffering from addiction to seek treatment in rehab. It is important to treat addiction appropriately and adequately.
Family therapy. One key factor in helping someone recover is committing the family to therapy. There are many opportunities for family therapy when the individual with addiction is still in rehab. The sessions in family therapy are beneficial in the healing and recovery of the individual with addiction and their family.
Educate yourself. Learning and educating yourself about addiction is significant. When you get a deeper understanding of addiction, you may grasp the problem better and help the victim in the best and most appropriate way possible.
Healthy boundaries. When you set healthy boundaries, you are teaching the addict how to follow the rules again. It makes them recognize that there are consequences for every action and that they need to take accountability over their decisions. Boundaries protect you too.
Communication. Establishing open communication is vital. When you create a safe space for honest communication, the addict can achieve recovery. Recovery is not a walk in the park. You cannot make healthy coping habits overnight. You must allow space for your loved ones to tell you about their challenges in recovery.
Safe environment. Support them by allowing them to feel safe in an environment. Remove potential triggers for relapse and do not use substances around them. People trying to achieve sobriety will thrive in safe environments.
Healthy activities. It can be a challenge for someone in recovery to adjust to a sober lifestyle. Their habits and activities may have been different when they were still using the substance. It would be very helpful to do and enjoy healthy activities with them.
Ask for support. Having support from your peers is valuable. Just like your loved one suffering from addiction, you need help too as the caregiver or immediate family member. Opening up to peers is a form of release. It helps you maintain a balance and make better decisions.
Self-care. Take care of yourself while you are taking care of another person. Do not forget to take breaks, especially that things can get overwhelming sometimes in the recovery journey. Selflessness is beautiful, but do not deprive yourself of the care you deserve.
What Causes Enabling
Enabling can happen and is very common in relationships with individuals suffering from addiction. It occurs because a codependent personality is present. Codependency is a compulsion; it is self-destructive that prevents a person from having a healthy relationship. Boundaries are non-existent in codependent relationships. People often overstep their own needs just to cater the other’s needs. It is what causes enabling in a relationship with someone suffering from addiction. In codependency, there is no room for No’s, just ‘Yes-es’. Recovery cannot be achieved if there are no set healthy boundaries.
Helping is an instinct. It is valid that families would jump right in to help when a loved one suffers from addiction. While someone with addiction must get help from their family, it is also crucial to know how to help an addict without enabling. Genuine love and support will aid their recovery, but boundaries are just as important. Helping while enabling is not helping -it only makes the addiction linger. Educate yourself to understand the situation better and help your loved ones in the most healthily and appropriately possible way.