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Why It is Harmful to Enable an Addicted Loved One

It is devastating to find out that a loved one is struggling with addiction. Whether it is an addiction to a particular substance such as alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medication, or compulsive behaviour such as gambling, shopping, or sex, addiction can destroy lives.

Family members of addicts will want to do everything they can to help their loved one. Their primary goal will be to get this person to stop taking a particular substance or engaging in a particular activity but they often do not realise how difficult this can be. To those who do not have an addiction, the obvious solution is to simply stop drinking, gambling or taking drugs. However, this is not as easy as it sounds because those who suffer from addiction have no control over their actions. Their addiction has changed the way their brain chemistry works and they simply cannot just stop.

Helping an Addict or Enabling them?

Family members hate to see their addicted loved ones suffering and will often do anything they can to ease this person’s suffering. While intentions may be good, they can actually be making the situation worse. In some instances, they are no longer helping the addict; they are in fact enabling them, which can often result in devastating consequences.

What is Enabling?

Enabling an addict is something that many family members do. They try to help their affected relative by removing any natural consequences of their behaviour. They will take care of tasks that the addict should be able to handle him or herself, which often makes it easier for the addict to carry on with his or her destructive behaviour.

The problem for many family members is that they believe they are being supportive and do not recognise the fact that they are actually enabling the affected individual instead. Instead of helping their loved one, they are allowing them to continue with the addiction. By dealing with the consequences of the addict’s actions, they are allowing the situation to progress.

If you are worried that you may be enabling an addicted loved one, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you paying bills for this person?
  • Are you making excuses to your addicted loved one’s employer as to why he or she cannot attend?
  • Are you cleaning up the mess made by the individual while he or she was intoxicated?
  • Do you readily accept his or her excuses or believe the lies he or she tells you, despite knowing that he or she often lies to you?
  • Have you paid for legal help for your loved one because of his or her actions while taking drugs or drinking alcohol?
  • Do you bury your head in the sand and prefer not to talk about your relative’s addiction because you are scared it will only make the situation worse?
  • Are you trying to act as if everything is okay in front of other family members or pretending as if there is nothing wrong to protect the affected person?
  • Do you allow your addicted loved one to change the subject if his or her addiction is brought up by other family members?

If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, you are likely enabling this person.

The Danger of Enabling a Loved One

Enabling an addicted loved one is harmful because it allows the addiction to get worse. No matter how well intended you are, your behaviour allows this individual to continue with his or her destructive behaviour and may even give them the message that what they are doing is acceptable. He or she is unlikely to get help if you continue to make excuses for them. Stop what you are doing immediately and call Rehab Helper now for advice on what to do to help your loved one.

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