Are You an Enabler? Understanding Helping vs. Enabling
When a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, our instinct is to help the addict in any way possible. While helping an addicted loved one is not a bad thing, it can be an extremely slippery slope. There is a fine line between truly helping the addict get better and enabling them to continue their behavior. The intentions you have may be good, but your actions may end up causing more harm to the addict and your family.
It is important to understand the difference between helping and enabling. Once that definition is established you need to look at your behavior to see if it is aiding or hurting your loved one. If a family member or friends is addicted to drugs and alcohol, the best thing you can do is to seek professional help. The addiction treatment experts at Comprehensive Wellness Centers can help you and the addict you love overcome addiction for good.
The Difference Between Helping and Enabling
It already has been established there is a fine line between helping and enabling. There is an important distinction between both behaviors. Helping can be defined as doing something for another in situations where they truly can’t help themselves. On the other hand, enabling is doing something for a person who is totally capable of doing things for themselves.
The difference may sound simple enough, but it can be very difficult putting it into practice. You may like the feeling of control when helping an addicted loved one out of a jam or to help alleviate their suffering, but are you really helping? For change to truly happen, the addict must feel the consequences of their actions. Enabling behaviors eliminate the feeling of those consequences, and the addict will never change their behavior.
Ways to Know That You Are Enabling an Addict
To truly help the addict towards recovery, you must first recognize if your actions are enabling their behavior. The following are ways you can know if you are an enabler:
Enablers will make excuses for an addict’s behavior. In doing so, the enabler is showing they fear conflict with the addict. Additionally, those who make excuses for the addict’s behavior are engaging in denial and may think that the behavior is merely a phase that the addict will grow out over time.
Giving the Addict Money
Another enabling behavior is giving the addict money for food, groceries, rent or other expenses. While the addict may say they need money to cover those expenses, they are using the money to buy more drugs. You may not want to see your loved one get their power disconnected or lose material possessions, simply giving them money minimizes the ramifications of their actions.
Taking Over Their Responsibilities
In addition to paying bills and other expenses, enabling behavior also includes taking over other responsibilities. These may include cleaning the addict’s house or apartment or other daily duties. These actions further indicate to the addict they are not being held accountable for their behavior.
Neglecting Your Needs
One of the most troubling signs enabling is occurring is the total focus of the addict’s needs over your own. If you are spending most of your time taking care of the addict, you are not taking care of yourself. Your physical and psychological health deteriorates while the addict continues living the high life. In this case, you are not setting clear boundaries.
Getting Help for Yourself and the Addict
It is completely understandable that you want to do everything you can to get an addicted family member the help they need. However, the help you give must lead the addict to make the necessary changes in their live to truly get better. The best way that you can help your loved one and yourself is to seek professional help.
As a premier drug treatment facility, Comprehensive Wellness Centers offers family and individual drug treatment programs that help the entire family heal. With your specific needs in mind, we help create a treatment plan that gives you the tools and support you need to become healthy and happy. Don’t wait another day for your loved one’s addiction to get worse, call CWS today and begin on the road to recovery.
Medically Reviewed: March 15, 2018
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.