When a loved one is struggling with addiction or alcoholism, we want to be as supportive as possible. However, sometimes our love can cause us to hurt them rather than help them. Our attempts to support them can turn into enabling behavior, which exacerbates the nature of their addiction. If someone in a state of active addiction is to come to the realization that they need to get help, they have to first see the consequences of their behaviors. Enabling, according to therapist Darlene Lancer in an article for PsychCentral, Are You an Enabler?, is “’removing the natural consequences to the addict of his or her behavior.’ Professionals warn against enabling because evidence has shown that an addict experiencing the damaging consequences of his addiction on his life has the most powerful incentive to change. Often this is when the addict “hits bottom” – a term commonly referred to in Alcoholics Anonymous.” Enabling, such as giving money to someone in the throes of addiction, keeps them from being able to experience “rock bottom” and recognize the harms they are causing to themselves and others. Enabling may come from a place of guilt—we feel, especially as parents, that we are somehow responsible for their addiction. Clinical Counselor Candace Plattor, in a 2014 Huffington Post article entitled, When You Enable an Addict You’re Not Helping, You’re Hurting, explains, “You may be contributing to it continuing, but you didn’t cause it. Even though no one chooses to become an addict (in fact, most addicts believe they’re ‘special’ and can handle addictive substances and behaviours without becoming addicted), there always comes a time when addicts know there’s something wrong and that they’re in trouble. It is at this point that they have a choice — to either remain in active addiction or to begin some type of active recovery.” When we enable and “protect” an addicted love one from facing consequences, we are not allowing them to come to a point where they are forced to make this choice. We are prolonging their addiction and delaying their potential to recognize that they truly need to seek a life of sobriety.
Recovery has become the story of countless men and women who once suffered from addiction and alcoholism. You can support your loved one by encouraging them to seek a better life through recovery. Oceanfront Recovery, a treatment center in Orange County, California, offers a variety of cutting edge treatment programs, including a regularly scheduled Family Program, to give your loved one all the tools needed to achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. For more information about individualized treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777