Enablers Prevent Addicts Seeking Addiction Treatment
People who enable drug addicts often have good intentions and do not actively try and facilitate their loved one’s drug use. However, removing the negative consequences of an addict’s lifestyle can ultimately prevent them from seeking treatment for their addiction.
Learn to Say No
Saying no to someone you love that is suffering can be very difficult, and leave you feeling guilty and helpless. Being assertive and setting boundaries, however, is one of the best things you can do to stop yourself from enabling the addict in your life. For example, if this person uses all of their money to buy drugs and doesn’t pay their utility bills, do not pay them yourself. Yes, you can fork over some cash to ensure that your friend or a family member has electricity, but that way they do not learn that there are repercussions for their actions. Speak to your loved one beforehand and layout these new boundaries, then stick to them. One of the worst things you can do is lay out a set of rules then cave when the person comes asking you for help – it may hurt, but it will be more beneficial in the long run.
Be prepared, however, to be met with anger or extreme emotion. If your loved one has always come to you in the past, they may feel betrayed and attempt to manipulate or threaten you into enabling them. What you need to realize is that threats or attempts at manipulation usually come from a place of desperation and fear – this person probably has no one else to turn to. It will be difficult, but try not to offer anything other than emotional support, and only if it isn’t detrimental to your health. Remember that addiction affects more than just the addict, and you need to put your own health and safety first.
Don’t Fear the Consequences
Most people allow themselves to be manipulated into enabling a drug addict because they fear what will happen later in this person’s life. You have to overcome this fear in order to successfully put your foot down and actually help your friend or family member start recovering. If your daughter misses school to get high, don’t lie to her principal to cover up her addiction or do her schoolwork for her. Yes, it will negatively impact her schooling, but she needs to learn that there are consequences for her actions. Perhaps you drive your husband to the bar because you know he will go anyway, and a DUI will mean he loses his job. You need his income to support your family, but you also need him to overcome his addiction, which isn’t possible if you continue to enable it. If there are no negative consequences to an addict’s actions, they will have no incentive to change or start to recover, and the cycle of addiction will continue.
Help Them Hit Rock Bottom
It sounds harsh and it will probably be even harsher to live through, but if there is no bottom to hit, if you keep facilitating a person’s addiction, they will never be able to recover. Unfortunately, enablers – even those with the best of intentions – end up suffering from their actions most, as they accept the burden of consequence rather than allowing the addict to bear it. As a loved one becomes more and more embroiled in addiction, an enabler will take on greater responsibilities. This only hurts both the addict and the enabler in the end, so rather help them realize that they need help than taking over their obligations and tasks.