Addiction in the family: How to stop enabling behavior

addiction-familyWhen the addict gets high, does your family stop what they are doing to go into crisis intervention mode? Learn how to stop this behavior and help your loved one by being on the same page with your family. Then, we invite your questions, comments or feedback at the end of the article. In fact, we try to respond to all legitimate inquiries with a personal and prompt reply.

When You Want Him/Her To Get Clean…

When my husband was going on a drug binge, everything stopped. You could hear the sound of a pin drop in my home while I awaited his call and his safe return. Mothers, fathers, cousins and friends from both our families would stop what they were doing. We all wanted to help my husband get home and get clean. We promised each other that we were on the same side and our goal was to get him help. When things were over we all went our separate ways and continued our personal relationships with the addict as they were before. We started exhibiting classic signs of enablers: I picked up the slack at home with our child, and other responsibilities; his mother kept telling him his addiction was not his fault but his father’s fault; his friends told him he would be fine, he just needed to slow down; and the addict continued to manipulate all of us, just as he did before.

What Is Enabling?

What are some examples of enabling behavior? Enabling is doing anything that directly or indirectly helps the addict be able to use drugs or alcohol. Examples: 1. If you give the addict money to pay a bill and they actually pay a bill, you are still enabling. If they were not using drugs, they probably would be able to pay their own bills. You are helping them be able to get high by enabling their irresponsibility. 2.If the addict gets kicked out of their home and has no place to go and you let them stay with you, you are enabling their addiction. 3. If you make excuses for their drug abuse like, “He had a rough childhood,” or, “He grew up without a father” or, “He was abused as a child,” then you are enabling. Even if we think we are helping an addict, sometimes this behavior can really be enabling.  Instead of making him or her accountable for their actions you are blaming something else. This puts the addict in the position of victim and they will use this over and over again to play on your sympathies. So, how do you stop enabling?

Make It STOP!

If you are sticking to your boundaries with an addict and someone else in the family keeps posting bail or giving them money or food, then the addict still has a way to get high. An addict will most likely not stop using unless they have to. To STOP the enabling, you must break down its structure or the system that makes it possible. Each person involved in the addict’s life is a part of the enabling structure.  When you start to take away pieces of the structure eventually the structure will fall. To empower the family you must destroy the current system that makes it possible for the addict to use. Here is what you need to know:

  1. This will not work unless everyone is on board.
  2. This will not work if we all say we are remaining strong but one of the family members is secretly helping the addict.
  3. There should be a set of rules and boundaries in regard to dealing with the addict.
  4. Everyone needs to be on the same page at all times.
  5. The first person to break the rules can shatter the progress made. Read more of this blog…
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.