When friends and family members try to “help” individuals with substance use disorders, they do more harm than good. Unfortunately, they contribute to the progression of the disease. You call this baffling phenomenon enabling, which takes many forms. They, however, have the same effect — letting the addict avoid the consequences of their actions.
Enabling lets someone with a substance dependence problem continue their destructive behavior. This individual feels confident knowing that somebody will always be there to rescue them regardless of how many mistakes they make.
If you want to help your loved one overcome their addiction, you take measures to help them go through drug abuse rehab. You don’t, however, help to the point of enabling their behavior.
How will you know if you’re enabling instead of helping?
Take note of the following signs that can indicate enabling behavior:
Coming up with Excuses for Their Behavior
Oftentimes, people will try to defend and protect the loved ones they care about, especially in times of struggle. This may extend to making excuses for the individual abusing substances by looking for other sources to blame, such as stressors and other people.
Many often become tired from repeatedly confronting their loved ones about their substance use. Given these circumstances, creating excuses rather than stepping your foot down and saying no can become a simpler option. Although this may serve as a protective act, it prevents yourself and your struggling loved one from facing the harm of their substance abuse realistically.
Accepting Manipulation or Lies Without Consequences
There may be instances wherein a spouse or a family member may be aware that their loved one is lying to them. They may be hiding or denying their drinking or drug use. Instead of confronting their loved ones, they accept the response.
Confronting a loved one during times you suspect they’re being dishonest can become exhausting over time. They may become angry, or you may grow tired from confronting them without any productive or meaningful outcome. By accepting this kind of behavior from your loved one, you send a message that being untruthful is ok.
Allowing your relationship to become muddled with manipulation and lies can hurt your dignity and sense of self-worth. Having a relationship with any person that involves manipulation and dishonesty is unhealthy regardless of the circumstances. If you want to improve this relationship, you’ll need to get your struggling loved one into treatment and joining counseling to voice your needs and concerns.
Thinking to Yourself that They’ll Improve on Their Own
If you are witnessing someone struggle with their addiction, you’ll want to comfort yourself with the idea that your loved one will find the motivation necessary to turn their life around and stop abusing substances.
Although searching for internal motivation will eventually become important, this framing doesn’t consider the psychological and physical pulls of addiction.
Substance use can change the body and the brain. This makes stopping these substances tough and painful to do. Although your loved one may say that they’re going to quit, lead a better life or follows plans to “get better,” following through on these goals or promises can often be difficult without any professional help or guidance.
Individuals struggling with substance abuse need some form of professional treatment to help them win over their addiction. This doesn’t signal any weakness of character. Instead, it emphasizes just how destructive and powerful a force addiction can be.
Wanting to take a few steps back and hoping your struggling loved one will find the path toward healing can feel self-protective. Take note that each day that they don’t seek treatment for themselves is another day that they put themselves at risk of suffering the long- and short-term effects of addiction.
Suppressing Your Emotions
If you’re enabling an addiction, you may find yourself downplaying or even shutting down completely to your loved one. Rather than convey how their problem is hurting you, you might bottle up your emotions, so that you can avoid any kind of discussion or confrontation. Coming to terms with how addiction negatively affects a loved one is often the main reason many individuals start striving toward sobriety.
Prioritizing Their Needs Over Your Own
Looking out after someone struggling with addiction requires lots of time, patience and energy than caring a healthy person. The problem of your loved one will grow worse in time. This makes caring for them more difficult, as you need to juggle their physical and emotional needs with yours.
You may see yourself staying up late to make sure that your loved one is safe. You may also have trouble falling asleep because of worry and stress.
Recognizing your behaviors is the first step in breaking a cycle of enabling. Consult a professional to obtain insight on getting the treatment that your loved one needs.