Last Updated on by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
Do you have a loved one who is battling an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or something else?
Unfortunately, addiction is something that has become all too common in this country. There are more than 20 million Americans dealing with addiction at the moment and millions of others in recovery.
If you know someone who is addicted to heroin, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, codeine, or another substance, you should help them to get the treatment they need to deal with their addiction accordingly. But you should also resist the urge to serve as an enabler to them.
There are far too many people who think they’re helping a loved one battle addiction when they are, in fact, just enabling them to continue to use drugs or alcohol. Here are some of the top signs that’ll show you’re enabling a loved one’s addiction as opposed to helping them with it.
1. Make Excuses for Your Loved One
If your loved one has a serious drug or alcohol problem, you might be embarrassed about it and want to hide it from others. As a result, you could find yourself making up excuses for your loved one’s behavior or lying on their behalf.
By doing this, you are not doing your loved one any favors. You’re making yourself look bad to cover their tracks and allowing them to get away with bad behavior without punishment.
Instead of making excuses for your loved one, force them to own up to any mistakes they’re making in their life due to their addiction. This is one of the only ways that they’ll start to understand how their actions are affecting themselves and others.
2. Give Them Money
People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol will do just about anything for money. They’ll lie, cheat, and steal to get their hands on the money they need to fuel their addiction.
They’ll also often try to prey on family members for money by coming to them with sob stories about how they can’t pay their rent or can’t afford to buy food for themselves or their families.
If your loved one ever attempts to pull this on you, you’re going to feel like you have to reach into your pocket and support them. But know this: If you do, you’re likely giving them exactly what they need to go out and buy drugs or alcohol to keep their addiction going.
You can’t control what else your loved one might do to get the money they need. But you can control your own spending and stop being an enabler by not giving them money when they ask for it.
3. Provide Them With a Place to Live
There are many people—especially parents—who will allow someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol to continue to live in their home despite their substance abuse issues.
In their minds, these people are protecting their loved ones by preventing them from spending their days and nights out on the streets. But in reality, they’re actually enabling them to continue to use drugs or alcohol when they let them live at home while they’re using.
If you find out that your loved one is using drugs or alcohol under your roof while they’re living with you, tell them you will not allow it. Make them choose between either getting help for their addiction or moving out if they want to keep using like they are now.
4. Use Drugs or Alcohol With Them
This should almost go without saying. But if you know someone who is battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you should not, under any circumstances, use drugs or alcohol with them.
This will send the wrong message to them since it’ll make it seem as though you’re accepting their behavior. You should abstain from having even a single beer with someone who has a problem with addiction.
5. Bail Them Out of Tough Spots
Was your loved one just arrested as a direct result of their drug or alcohol use? Your first instinct might be to run right down to the police station and bail them out since you know they probably don’t have the money to do it on their own.
There are many people who will take this approach because they feel guilty about leaving their loved one behind bars.
It’s OK to feel some sense of guilt in a scenario like this. But it’s not OK to bail your loved one out time and time again when they find themselves in tough spots due to their addiction.
They need to learn to deal with the consequences that come along with their actions if they’re going to put themselves into precarious positions by using drugs or alcohol to excess.
6. Fail to Confront Them
Confronting someone about addiction is a hard thing to do. There is a very good chance that they’re going to get defensive or even angry if you bring up the fact that they have a drug or alcohol problem.
But you shouldn’t allow that to stop you from confronting them anyway. You’re going to be acting like an enabler if you decide against doing it.
By confronting your loved one and letting them know that they have a problem, you will, at the very least, plant a seed in their head. It might make them rethink their relationship with drugs or alcohol and force them to reach out to someone about getting the help they so desperately need.
Stop Being an Enabler Immediately
There are all kinds of reasons why a person will turn into an enabler when their loved one is battling addiction.
Some do it because they’re scared of what might happen if they mention addiction to their loved one. Others do it because they don’t want to hurt any progress that a loved one has made while fighting back against addiction.
Whatever the case may be, you shouldn’t allow yourself to become an enabler for your loved one. It’s only going to hurt them in the end if you don’t come down hard on their addict behavior.
Contact us today to hear about how you can help your loved one with their drug or alcohol problem.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.