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How to stop drug and alcohol enabling

How to stop drug and alcohol enabling

When does Help become Enabling?

Anyone who has dealt with a loved one suffering from drug addiction has heard the words, “You’re not helping. You’re just enabling.” These are not easy words to hear, let alone fully understand. To make it simple, helping is when the situation actually improves. In other words, your actions have led your loved one to deal with the drug addiction , perhaps by attending a drug rehab center . Enabling, however, is when the situation worsens, and your actions have contributed to the drug addiction. Although this may seem straightforward, many people unconsciously fall into the trap of enabling. If you’ve ever wondered about your own actions, here are 3 steadfast guidelines to follow to ensure that you are not contributing to the drug addiction by “addiction enabling”.

Three ways to stop enabling your drug or alcohol addicted loved one

  1. Do not give him cash. Ever.  Cash equates to drugs. Period.  Regardless of the story he tells you, never hand him that $100 to pay his phone bill, or that $50 for groceries.  Inevitably, the cash will turn into drugs.  It is not always easy to follow-through with this as you want to believe that he is telling you the truth this time.  Drug addicts, unfortunately, are usually master manipulators and will stop at nothing to get their next fix. If you are even contemplating handing over some cash, ask yourself this: would you purchase the drugs for him? Of course you wouldn’t, but if you hand over the cash, you’re essentially getting in your car, driving to his dealer’s house, and buying the drugs for him.

    Instead, every time the question for cash arises, tell him you will put that cash towards paying for a drug rehab center.

  2. Do not bail her out.  Yes, this includes bailing her out of jail; however, bailing her out goes beyond incarceration.  When she needs a ride at 3 am, don’t go get her.  When she was up all night and now asks you to call her boss, don’t make the call.  When she asks you to do something that she should be able to do for herself, don’t do it.  Yes, this sounds scary.  What if she’s in danger when she calls you at 3 am? What if she’s about to lose her job if she calls in one more time? Yes, it is very scary to let go of her.  You are afraid you will lose her forever.

    Instead, when the 3am call comes, offer an alternative.  Perhaps, say “I’ll come get you and take you to that drug rehab center we’ve been saving for.” Or when she does lose her job, offer to help her get her life under control by going to a program that will really help.

  3. Do not pay their way.  This goes beyond handing them money. When they ask you to pay their rent, don’t do it.  If they need a place to stay, don’t give them your couch.  Yes, they only want to borrow the car for an hour, but it’s your car, and your gas, and your liability.   But they need to eat, right? Yes, they do, but not on your dime, not with your money.  There are plenty of ways that they can get food.  Every town has a place, somewhere, that serves free food.  Maybe this type of humility is exactly what they need. There are many ways that you can inadvertently pay their way and contribute to their drug addiction.  Don’t fall into this trap.

    Is their any reason when you should pay their way?  Yes, when they are willing to attend that drug rehab center you’ve been saving for, telling them about, and ready to pay for.

Enabling is an easy trap to fall into. It appears as if there is nothing you can to do help, and that it is difficult and uncomfortable to shut your loved one out. Unfortunately, with drug addiction , this is a reality. Sometimes, the best action you can take is to do nothing until the addict is ready to seek help. This requires strength and determination on your part. In the meantime, research the drug rehab centers that are out there. Find support for yourself through friends, family members, or others who have been through similar situations. There are many drug rehab centers that offer support to family members and can give advice on what steps you should take to get your loved one to wake up and realize it’s time to live a better life. If they do not experience consequences of their actions, why would they ever stop? Remember, the best way to help is by letting go.

About the Author:
Kerry Johnson lives in the Bay area and is currently studying addiction and related issues.  She has found in her research that the model of treatment offered at offers a complete solution to drug rehabilitation.  If you plan to reproduce this article, please include the link above.