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As the loved one or friend of a user, it can be challenging to support them without falling into enabling them. An enabler, in a general sense, can be a friend, loved one, child, sibling, romantic partner, or anyone who has a relationship with an addict. When the addicted individual lacks control over their problem, it leads the enabler to take responsibility for the user’s actions, sometimes even more responsibility than the user does.
This dynamic between the two people prevents the user from having to deal with the full ramifications of their actions and addiction. Have you ever wondered how to stop being an enabler? It’s a struggle that many loved ones of users face. However, there are a number of simple steps you can take to stop being an enabler for your loved one and help them face their substance abuse addiction and the consequences of their actions.
Steps to Stop Being an Enabler
It’s important to remember that although you stop enabling your loved one’s addiction, you don’t stop loving them and being there for them. Enabling behavior can sometimes feel like helping your loved one, but you can help your loved one simply by being there for them and helping them get the addiction treatment they need once they realize the full scope of the consequences to their problem. Below are a handful of simple steps to take to stop being an enabler to an addict.
- Let them feel the full weight of their actions. Stop taking action to protect the user in your life from seeing and feeling the full weight of their actions. This means not making excuses for the consequences of them using, not cleaning up after them when they are using and can’t clean up after themselves, and not shielding them from the consequences of their decision. By helping them cover up their substance abuse or addiction, you are inadvertently helping keep them from realizing they have an issue because you are effectively acting as a shield from their own decisions. Remove that shield and let your loved one feel the weight of their actions without your intervention.
- Cut off any financial assistance. By giving someone who has an addiction money, you are only helping to fuel their problem. Removing your financial support means forcing the user to be self-reliant and fund their addiction on their own, which can also push them towards seeking help to recover from their addiction once they no longer have the means to consistently obtain their drug of choice. In addition, cutting off any financial assistance to your loved one can help to alleviate undue strain you have assumed due to their substance abuse problem.
- Live your life and do the things you want to do without compromising your schedule. As a loved one of a user, it can feel like you need to change your life to fit whatever is happening in their life and to continuously alter your own schedule to fit their needs. To stop enabling them, it is important to live your life and continue doing the things you would normally do without compromising and changing your schedule to help the user. If they decide to skip a family function to use, that doesn’t mean you need to as well.
- Establish firm boundaries and enforce them. By enabling a loved one’s addiction, they begin to feel like their behaviors and actions are tolerated and acceptable on some level. To stop enabling them, it is important to establish firm boundaries and consequences for when those boundaries are violated. However, it is vital that if and when those boundaries are crossed, those consequences are actually enforced. You need to show your loved one that their behaviors are not tolerated and there are real, concrete consequences for their actions. It can be hard learning how to deal with an addict, but by setting boundaries you are able to outline some guidelines within your relationship and hopefully prevent unhealthy behaviors.
- Take steps to protect yourself from the consequences of their addiction. Unfortunately, as the loved one of someone struggling with an addiction, you can sometimes be placed in unsafe situations due to their addiction. For example, if your loved one is an alcoholic and insists on driving your family home from a function because they refuse to acknowledge they are too intoxicated to drive. This can be a life-threatening situation and it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from the consequences of the user’s behavior. Instead of offering to drive home, which could enable their behavior, start driving yourself places so that you don’t have to rely on the user’s behaviors and actions and aren’t forced to enable them to keep yourself and others safe.
This is only one situational example of a way to protect yourself from the consequences of your loved one’s addiction. If you’re loved one is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, the best way you can help them is to get them enrolled in a rehab facility.
For more about how to avoid enabling a loved one, check out this related article:
For further questions, contact our Florida treatment center today.
- GoodTherapy. “Enabling 101: How Loved Becomes Fear and Help Becomes Control.” Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/enabling-101-how-love-becomes-fear-and-help-becomes-control-1018134.
- PsychCentral. “Are You An Enabler?” Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/are-you-an-enabler/.
- Psychology Today. “The Enabling Relationship and Not Giving Yourself Away.” Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/enlightened-living/200902/the-enabling-relationship-and-not-giving-yourself-away.