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Addiction and Enabling

Enabling is when a family member or friend, usually with good intentions, helps a drug user to continue using drugs. Examples of this could include knowing that someone is using drugs and giving them a place to live, money and a general set up that allows them to continue using. Often family members and friends of drug users do not realize that they are enabling. Many think that having the person close to them, even if they are continuing to use drugs is “safer” than the person being somewhere else.

This is a very unfortunate sequence of events and is preventable but, the only way to prevent this behavior is through education of how to handle someone addicted. Very often, more often than not, the education comes too late. By then, the destructive pattern of enabling is established. The addict wants to use at all costs, no matter what, they are not ready to even consider quitting. The family member or loved one is aware that their loved one has an addiction, but they just want to help them. The enabler, in essence, keeps the user from facing any consequences.

There are no repercussions for their actions, therefore, why would they want to stop?  

Indicators of Enabling

There are many things an enabler will do for the addict that fall under the category of enabling, too many to list and some not even known, but the following are some key indicators that have been found to be true in many cases:

•         Making excuses and creating alibis for a loved one.

•         Paying rent or any other bill for the addict or alcoholic.

•         Driving the loved one to actually get drugs or alcohol.

•         Giving them prescription medicine to keep the addict or alcoholic from experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

•       Allowing the addict or alcoholic to lash out in anger at the proposed enabler when things don’t go exactly as he or she wished

•         Doing anything that they should be doing themselves, i.e. laundry, cleaning their living quarters, buying their groceries, gassing up their vehicle, dishes, etc.

•         Bailing them out of jail, or any other sticky situation.

•         Calling in to work for them.

All of these factors into an enabling situation and should be taken under careful consideration.

Though the enabler thinks they are helping the individual with the alcohol or drug addiction at first, at some point it will become crystal clear that they are not. They will recognize this and not know how to proceed. The chaos created by the addiction is directly at the enabler and the addict will use the chaos as justification for more and more use. It is a vicious cycle.

There are measures to help someone to stop enabling and to get the drug user the help they need:

•         Tough love – this is also commonly referred to now “detaching with love”.   At some point, a blow up will occur between the enabler and the user. The enabler says “I’ve had enough” and the user inevitably explodes. The enabler is sick and tired of trying to control an uncontrollable situation and they are exhausted. They’ve spent hours, day after day, month after month, maybe year after year, doing for the user while the user calmly goes about his daily routine of shirking any responsibility and making the enabler feel totally responsible for their own short comings. The enabler quits running around, paying their bills, driving them anywhere, giving them substitution meds, they take back their own lives and let the addict fin for themselves. The addict, with no one to blame but himself and nowhere to turn to but himself is forced to really see the situation as it is. At this point, he or she should ask for help, and real help, as in treatment.

•         Intervention –this is a great tool when tough love does not work or if tough love doesn’t appeal to you. Basically, everyone involved with the addict comes together and expresses their desire and love for the addict but, wants no more to do with their addiction. Each loved one tells the addict how they no longer will support them in any way, unless it is to get treatment. The addict usually cracks and gives in. Some families hire a professional interventionist but, it can be done successfully without one. The use of a professional interventionist may be best and the family will have a real good idea if this is the case.

Interventions work very well most of the time.

Even if someone has fallen into the pattern of enabling it is never to late to stop and insist that the addicted person get help. Rehabilitation is primarily how someone recovers from addiction.

Narconon, a residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment program has dealt with many family members and friends of drug users who just need guidance in dealing with their loved one. With this the person can take control and get the addict help once and for all.

For more information on Narconon rehab call 800-468-6933.