Addiction is a disease that affects family members, work associates, significant others, and friends.
Often, the people who love someone suffering from addiction want to help in any way they can. While their loved one certainly needs support and encouragement, too often the “help” they receive comes in the form of enabling behaviors. Enabling someone only makes the addiction worse.
Enabling behaviors may include:
- Lying for your loved one (‘calling in sick’ for them when it’s really a hangover, making excuses regarding their public behavior or their absence from social events)
- Taking care of their financial needs (paying their rent, bailing them out of jail, giving them money)
- Ignoring the problem and trying to keep the peace by not bringing up issues that concern you
- Putting your own needs aside to continually take care of your loved one
You may be able to see from this list that enabling behaviors take the responsibility off the person suffering from addiction, making it easier for them to use. The person avoids responsibility and suffers no negative consequences from their actions. So why should they stop using and seek treatment?
You can begin to stop enabling behaviors by first educating yourself. Learn as much as you can about addiction and addiction recovery by finding a support group such as Al-Anon, whose main focus is to help support family and friends of people suffering from addiction. In addition, you can learn about addiction recovery by visiting accredited websites, as well as talking to a therapist or doctor. Keep in mind that addiction is a family disease and affects everyone – reach out for help to get your life back, and remember you don’t have to go through this alone.