Enabling an Addict

Enabling an addict is the worst thing you can do for them.  To enable means simply to flow power or validation to them in such a way that they will use that flow to continue to abuse drugs and alcohol.  You are actually supporting their terrible and destructive behavior, even though you think you are showing love or being helpful.

Addiction is more prevalent now than it has been in recent decades, and the result of that is more American families seeking answers to addiction problems within their household than ever before.  It’s hard to say how many people are currently addicted to some form of substance abuse.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), reported the results of the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), that accounted for an approximate 2.4 million people in the United States who had used a prescription drug without medical reason in just one-year’s time.  Furthermore, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), worked diligently all throughout 2014 to assess an idea of just how many Americans were legitimately addicted to drugs and alcohol.  The number they arrived at, give or take a few million, was twenty-five million.

The number of people in America who are addicted to drugs and alcohol is merely one piece a puzzle which makes up the bigger picture of the addiction epidemic that this nation now faces. For example, add to the prescription drug problem the addictions that Americans have to alcohol, bath salts, marijuana, (even in synthetic form), and hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, and you’re looking at a national epidemic and crisis to say the least.  A 2011 CASA Columbia study produced alarming results that paint a grim outlook of the future of America, with a quarter of those who used any addictive substance prior to turning 18 ending up addicted to them.  That’s not far off the mark either, based on what other organizations believe to be true.

How to Help an Addict: Don’t Enable Them!

Now that we know just how severe addiction is in the United States and just how common it is for people to be addicted to drugs and alcohol, how do we actually help those who are afflicted with a substance abusing habit of one kind or another?

Below is an extensive list of some of the ways that you could be enabling an addict:

  • Giving an addict money that they may use to buy drugs.
  • Cutting them some slack and ignoring it when they use drugs after promising they’d quit.
  • Calling an addict’s boss to say they’re ill when they’re absent from work due to their addiction.
  • Taking care of responsibilities for the addict: housekeeping, running errands, paying their bills, child rearing, etc.
  • Bailing them out of jail.
  • Rationalizing or making excuses for their bad behavior.
  • Ignoring the addict’s negative or potentially dangerous behavior.
  • Difficulty expressing emotions – Enablers are often unsure how to express their feelings, especially if there are negative repercussions for doing so.
  • Prioritizing the addict’s needs before her own – While it is natural to want to help loved ones, enabling takes helping a step too far, where the addict has her needs taken care of while the enabler neglects her own.
  • Acting out of fear – Since addiction can cause frightening events, the enabler will do whatever it takes to avoid such situations.
  • Lying to others to cover the addict’s behavior – An enabler will lie to keep the peace and to present a controlled, calm exterior.
  • Blaming people or situations other than the addict – To protect the addict from the consequences of drug abuse, the enabler might accuse other people of causing drug abuse.
  • Resenting the addict – The result of the above behaviors is that the enabler will likely feel angry and hurt. She may act on these feelings by resenting the addict all while continuing to enable the addiction.
  • Taking on the addict’s responsibilities for them. For example, paying their overdue bills, cleaning their house, filling their car with gas, or buying them groceries.
  • Telling lies for the addict, such as ‘calling in sick’ for them when they are actually too hung over to work.
  • Making excuses for the addict’s behavior. Perhaps they act out in public, and you make the excuse that the addict has been working a lot of hours, so their behavior is due to stress.
  • Bailing the addict out of jail or financial difficulty.
  • Finishing a project that the addict failed to complete on his or her own.
  • Cleaning up after the addict. Perhaps they throw a tantrum, throwing things around and breaking them, and you clean it up.
  • Threatening to leave or kick the addict out of your home if he or she uses again, but failing to follow through on your threats.
  • Accepting part of the blame for an addict’s bad behavior.
  • Drinking or using drugs with an addict in an attempt to strengthen the relationship.
  • Avoiding issues that need to be addressed out of fear that the addict will become angry.

Stop Enabling an Addict and Let Professionals Take It From There

The best way to help someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol is to get them to go to an inpatient addiction treatment center.  With this type of help it actually becomes likely that you could save their lives.

You cannot help your loved one overcome addiction on your own, but you can use techniques to be sure you aren’t enabling an addict back in to abuse.  Neither can the addict do it to himself or herself.  The best shot that you have at assisting the addict is by leaving it up the professionals and get the addict into rehab.  With compassionate and experienced professional addiction specialists, your loved one stands the best chance of overcoming the addiction and remaining sober for a lifetime.  Call our toll-free number today to learn how to stop enabling an addict and to get started on finding treatment.

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