If your loved one struggles with alcohol or drug abuse, you know that it can be difficult to determine how exactly you can help them. Although there are several ways to address their addiction, it’s essential to understand that some courses of action can actually do more harm than good.
In fact, even though you likely have good intentions, there’s a chance that the way you react to your loved one’s substance abuse is making the problem worse. If you want to ensure you help your family member or friend properly break from their addiction and lead a healthier life, it’s essential to make sure you aren’t enabling their actions.
What Does it Mean to Enable Someone’s Addiction?
There is a common belief that many actions you may take in regard to a family member or friend’s substance abuse problem will help them. However, in the process of trying to help them break from addiction, you may actually be contributing to the problem in one way or another.
You may do something for them that they would normally do themselves if they weren’t under the influence. However, by helping them achieve something that they would otherwise be able to do sober, you are only fueling their problem. In order to avoid doing this, it helps to be aware of the specific ways you may enable their addiction.
Ways You May Enable Your Loved One’s Addiction
You Ignore the Problem
One of the worst things you can do if your friend or family member struggles with substance abuse is ignore the problem entirely. By refusing to acknowledge that your loved one has a disease, you allow the problem to worsen over time, putting them more at risk since they’ll fall even deeper into substance abuse.
The sooner you recognize that your loved one is dealing with alcohol or drug addiction, the sooner you can get them the help they need.
You Deny the Problem
Similarly to ignoring it, if you recognize that your loved one is struggling with substance abuse, but choose to remain in denial about it, you will likely say that anything else causes the physical, mental, and emotional changes in your loved one, rather than substance abuse. In cases like this, you are only worsening and prolonging the problem.
You Make Excuses for Their Behavior or Absence
Another way of enabling your loved ones is to excuse their behavior to others. For example, it’s not uncommon for those addicted to drugs or alcohol to be absent from family events, late to work or miss shifts entirely, or seem groggy or irritable in general.
If you are constantly making excuses for them, saying they are missing from events because they are feeling ill or are simply having a bad day, you allow their struggle to continue without consequence.
You Take on Their Responsibilities
Is your son or daughter supposed to do chores around the house, but due to their addiction, they consistently neglect to do so? Does your roommate forget to go grocery shopping so you take it upon yourself to go for them?
While it may seem as though you are doing them a kind favor, you’re actually enabling their addiction by taking on responsibilities they would normally be able to keep up with if they did not use drugs or alcohol.
Although it may seem difficult, it may be better to let their responsibilities lapse so they become more aware of how their addiction is negatively affecting their lives as well as the lives of those around them.
You Downplay the Severity of Their Addiction
Since everyone who struggles with addiction does so at varying levels, there are also different consequences and effects of their addiction. For example, your child may abuse alcohol and, as a result, begin doing poorly in college or be arrested for driving under the influence.
If you downplay the severity of their addiction, perhaps saying it’s just a rough semester or they didn’t realize they were over the legal limit to drive, you enable their addiction and allow the problem to continue.
You Ignore Your Own Emotions Towards Their Addiction
Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who struggles with drugs or alcohol. On the contrary, it affects the lives of most people that an individual is close to. As a result, you may feel a number of negative emotions towards your loved one’s substance abuse, such as anger, fear, or sadness.
If you consistently ignore your own emotions and try to put them on the backburner, not only are you enabling their substance abuse issues by allowing them to have such a negative impact on you, but you are also putting your mental health at risk as you continue to allow those negative emotions to weigh on you.
You Financially Support Them
It’s not uncommon for young adults who battle substance abuse to experience financial problems — whether it from not being able to hold a job due to their addiction or falling into debt as they finance their addiction.
It may be tempting to loan them money so they are able to make rent payments, buy groceries, and get by financially. However, despite your good intentions, all that does is teach your loved one that their struggle with substance abuse can continue because they’ll feel that they can rely on you to help them through when things get rough.
Address Addiction in Your Loved Ones
The best way to truly help your loved one break free from alcohol or drug addiction is to address the problem head-on and help them seek out the best treatment program for their unique needs.
The team at Silvermist Recovery Center is committed to providing our clients with the best possible chance of long-lasting recovery through a highly individualized and progressive approach to substance abuse treatment.
We’ve developed a distinctive, person-centered recovery approach for young adults that addresses not only the dependency but also the life occurrences that often contribute to addiction or prevent you from changing.
Get the help you or your loved one needs today. Call us at (724) 268-4858 to speak to one of our intake specialists 24/7.