Seeing a loved one throw his life and his health down the drain because of addiction can be heartbreaking. You would want to find a way to help him–even save him. If you could only understand, or if you could only make his problems go away…
Whether you are a parent, a spouse, partner, child, or friend of an addict, seeing him deteriorating and suffering before your very eyes can be very painful to bear.
Whether your loved one is addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, gaming, pornography, or any other substance or behavior, it is important to be careful not to become an enabler of the addictive behavior. In fact, enabling him can do him more harm than good.
So what is Enabling?
Enabling is defined as allowing a person, usually an addict, to continue with their lifestyle, activities and behavior without letting them experience the true consequences of their actions.
The Very Fine Line
There is a very fine line between enabling and helping. There is nothing wrong with helping others but you have to know when helping is REALLY helping.
One good tip is to visualize your loved one at his best instead of seeing her as a victim. Another good tip is to assess the whole situation with an objective standpoint and answer these questions:
- Are you worrying so much about the person that it consumes your own time and your own peace of mind?
- Do you find yourself trying to solve his problems instead of letting him get his way around solving them?
- Do you believe the he cannot handle the situation well to the point that you have to handle it for him?
- Have you ever considered giving the person money or letting him have his way so he can support his addiction?
- Do you have feelings of guilt that you should have or could have done something more for him?
- Do you feel like you have a special relationship with this person and that you can understand and handle him better than anybody else?
- Do you find yourself in situations trying to protect him or cushion the consequences of his actions?
- Are you counting on other people in his life to help him change for the better?
- Are you always trying to be there for him even at the expense of your own time, money, responsibilities, emotional well-being and peace of mind?
If you have answered “Yes” to two or more of the questions above, they it is very likely that you have treaded that line from being helpful to being an enabler.
Enabling the person to do drugs or continue with his addiction does not, and will not, do him good. Enabling behavior will only keep him further away from his own growth and living a life free from destructive addictive behavior that can rapidly spiral down into worst things.
If you think you are an enabler, or know someone who is an enabler, feel free to post your experiences in this blog. One of the purposes of this blog is to create a venue for sharing with the Bridges of Hope community.