Top 7 Signs You’re Enabling an Addict
Nobody wants to watch their loved ones struggle with any type of illness. And addiction with all of its brutal intricacies isn’t an exception.
To decrease the amount of suffering your loved one endures, it’s normal to do things to help. But there’s a thin line between helping and enabling an addict.
If you want to know whether your actions are helping or hurting your loved one’s recovery continue reading.
The 4 Types of Enabling
Actions that enable drug addicts are ones that hinder their ability to confront the dangers of the situation they’re in.
Lending money and providing emotional support are common methods of enabling. But did you know there are four types of enabling relationships?
Here are the specifics:
Hope-based enablers thrive off of promises an addict makes without planning to fulfill them. For instance, they may say things like “I will start treatment tomorrow” or “This is the last time I’ll get high.”
If you’re a hopeful enabler, you always think your loved one is on the verge of a breakthrough when they truly aren’t.
Many addicts blame their friends or family for their addiction. Guilt trips make it possible to benefit from handouts without accepting their addictions and the pain they’ve caused.
In a guilt-based scenario, your addicted loved one may say things like you not being there for them caused their addiction.
When confronted to make a change, some addicts will make threats that can include things like self-harm or ending relationships. This behavior may keep you from holding your family member accountable for their actions in order to avoid conflict.
A major component of addiction is shifting blame. An addict may say that their addiction stems from a situation where they were victimized.
Are You Enabling an Addict?
If you aren’t sure whether you’re truly helping or enabling your loved one, you will know for sure after reading these 7 telltale signs of an enabler.
1. Lying and Covering Up for an Addict
It’s normal for an enabler to cover for an addict by telling lies. For example, they may call their employer to say they’ll miss work for a family emergency when the truth is, the person is too high to function at work.
An enabler may also make excuses for an addict when they cannot attend family events or handle their daily responsibilities. Lying and covering up for an addict tells them that their behavior is excused and that there isn’t a need for change.
2. Taking on Their Financial Responsibilities
Addicts are rarely ever financially responsible. When a person is chronically using drugs, their judgment fades significantly.
This can turn into spending excessive amounts of money to pay for their habit, even when they can’t afford it. If you’re giving your loved one money because they can’t pay their rent and other bills, you’re definitely enabling their habit.
Lending money for bills just tells your loved one that they can continue using their own money for drugs because you will bail them out. You also need to open your eyes to the possibility that the money you’re lending will be used for drugs instead.
3. Making Excuses
When a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, it is normal for other people around them to take notice. This is especially true in families where there might even be a conversation had between relatives to discuss ways to help the person become sober.
If you find yourself saying things like “He’s just under a lot of stress right now” you’re making excuses to enable your loved one.
Another common excuse is when the enabler blames themselves. In doing so, you might say something like “He drinks to put up with me.”
It is never fair to put the pressure of someone’s addiction on yourself. There is no such thing as truly driving someone to drink or do drugs.
You cannot cause an addict’s decisions.
4. Using Substances Yourself
Not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol recreationally becomes an addict. For many people, it may help with relaxing after a hard day, having fun, or even relating to friends and family.
If you’re drinking or doing drugs around your addicted loved one, your seemingly harmless habit is enabling their serious illness. Your use of addictive substances can serve as a trigger or temptation to your loved one.
This is even true if you never go beyond having a single glass of wine with dinner. Remember that no amount of a drug is safe for an addict.
5. Living in Denial
Addicts are commonly in denial about the harm their abuse is causing to their own bodies and the people who love them. But it is also common for the people who love an addict to live in denial.
Parents often feel overwhelmed when initially seeing the signs of addiction and it can make them feel as if they’d failed to teach and protect their child.
In cases like these, putting up a fence of denial numbs those feelings, making the denial act as a defense mechanism for the parent.
6. Hiding Your Emotions
When you’re enabling an addict, your main goal is usually to keep them happy. A lot of the time, it seems the addict’s happiness becomes more important than everyone else’s.
There might even be a belief that if they’re satisfied, they will stop using. But that isn’t true.
Hiding your emotions of sadness and disappointment won’t “fix” your loved one just as trying to avoid confrontation won’t.
7. Thinking They Can Overcome Their Addiction Without Help
This form of optimism is typically bred by the feelings of denial we discussed earlier. It’s important to understand that addiction is a sickness.
If you break a bone, you will go to the doctor to receive treatment in order to heal. Think of your addicted loved one in a similar way.
There is something broken inside of them that they cannot fix or heal on their own. The best way you can show your support is by helping them find a rehab center that will put them on the right track to living a happy and healthy life.
Enabling an addict gives them exactly what they need to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. It never helps them get better and it can cause a lot of stress on you as the enabler.
If you truly want to see your loved one go back to their normal selves, show that you support their recovery by contacting our treatment center today.