drug addiction

Are you enabling the Addict?

When there is an addict in a family setting there is almost certain to be some enabling that allows the addict to continue their way of life. Painful as it is, we have to face it. The other family members may adjust their lifestyle or lie to cover for the addict. For example:

"My husband gets really bad asthma so it is hard for him to work"

"I have to take care of my daughter's children as she is not very strong."

"My son keeps trying for jobs but he doesn't get hired."

"My brother is always borrowing money from me and he upsets everyone when I don't have any."

"I have to let my daughter live here or she would be living on the street"

I have heard stories like this from many people. What these people are doing is allowing the addict to continue their downhill spiral into drugs.
It is painful to watch a family member in the grip of drugs. Families often contribute to the enabling at the expense of their own health, comfort, safety and well being .

Almost always when there is a drug user in the house there are others who support their way of life. From the brother who makes life hell until he is given money to the husband who gets 'asthma' or some other malady, there is always someone who will do the enabling. It is hard to admit that you are part of the problem and it is easy to slip into that role. I know as I did the same thing until I came to understand that while I continued to do what I was doing, she would continue her downward path.

There is also the feel-good rescuer feeling that you get from taking care of the addict. If you ever do things that the addict can and should do for themselves, then you are enabling the addiction to continue. Sometimes families are ashamed to admit that there is a drug user who is calling the shots. Often it is easier to deal with things themselves than to deal with the hassle of getting the drug user to work or contribute. However, it is unlikely that the drug use will stop on its own. Bottom line is, if you go on doing what you are doing, you will go on getting what you are getting. The drug user will not change the balance if it is to their advantage so YOU MUST.

There is another thing to think about. The user may not want to stop. Even though you see the damage that the drug use does to the family, the user may not see or want to see or be able to stop. Getting away from drugs involves hard work. It means taking responsibility for actions. Some users are not able to do that. This does not mean that you, the family, should go on supporting them.

You can chose to stop the enabling behavior and accept that the user may move away from you, or you can continue to allow their behavior and watch them deteriorate and possibly die from drug use.

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Copyright Vivienne Edwards/Angels on Wheels LLC; 2008 - 2009
This page updated 2013