When someone we are close to is suffering, we naturally want to help. We want to stop the pain, make them heed our advice, and set them on the right path again. However, if your loved one is a drug addict or alcoholic, your attempts at helping that person might actually be enabling them to continue in their addiction.
The Difference between Helping and Enabling
There is often a fine line between helping and enabling. It is important to know the difference, because while one can actually put an end to addiction, the other fuels it.
If your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol and they are about to lose their car, phone, or even home because they are out of money, you might be tempted to either give them money or pay one of their bills. Experts advise against supporting an addict financially in nearly all situations, because for every bill they don’t have to worry about or pay, they have more money for drugs or alcohol. In most cases, giving your loved one money or helping pay bills would be enabling.
Another situation families frequently run into with an addict is the decision whether or not to make an excuse for the person in order to save them from something. If your family member is high or drunk again and not able to go to work, they might ask you to call in sick for them. If they show up at work under the influence, they will be fired. If you don’t help out, they will be fired, and then will sink deeper into despair and addiction. In this case, as in the one above, helping your loved one avoid the consequences of their actions and addiction is enabling them to continue in their addiction, so don’t make excuses for them.
The Best Way to Help is to Find a Treatment Program
To avoid enabling, don’t make excuses, don’t try to solve their financial problems, and don’t try to right their wrongs. These things aren’t actually helpful in the long run. All they do is give temporary relief to the situation and not provide any long term solutions.
So what can you do? How can you help your loved one? The number one way to help is to get your loved one into treatment. If they have tried to stop using and failed, or if you have talked to them and they deny there is a problem, the issue is probably bigger than you should try to handle, and you need the help of a professional. Contact a treatment facility right away to learn about rehab options, and to get help talking to your loved one about treatment.
Ways You Can Help
In addition, you can look at your own actions and interactions with the person, to ensure you are being a positive force in their life.
- Be supportive of their recovery
- Be firm about ultimatums and rules of the house
- Enlist the help of professionals
- Offer financial support only in certain situations, such as helping pay for rehab
- Talk to other family members and close friends about offering support
- Go to counseling or therapy yourself to fix your own issues
Remember, you don’t have to fix this on your own. You don’t have to bear the consequences of your loved one’s addiction. Let them see what their addiction is doing to their life and yours, and allow them to deal with the consequences themselves. Talk to a professional about getting help for your loved one, and then provide encouragement and support during the recovery process.
If you are looking for an effective drug and alcohol rehab program, we can help. Community Rehab offers a social recovery plan that is customizable to address your family’s specific needs. Contact us at (855) 478-1034 to learn more.