Are You Enabling a Drug Addict?
Many times it’s the family and friends that make it possible for a drug addict to continue using. It’s not that the loved ones of these addicts plan to enable them or that they want to but more so that they just don’t realize that they are doing so. When a family member or a friend of an addict provides them with money or other help that makes it easier for them to continue using drugs it is considered enabling behavior. Are you enabling a drug addict?
You Mean Well
It’s not that you want your friend or family member to use drugs but you just want to help. Enabling is the result of a kind hearted person that wants to help. You mean well, but the behaviors and the help that you give may be enabling if it allows the addict to have a lack of responsibility and to not hate to take control of their own actions and addiction. If you have done any of the following in an attempt to help a friend or family member that is addicted to drugs then you may be enabling that individual:
- Loaning an addict money to pay bills or for other expenses despite the fact that the money gets spent on drugs
- Waking the person up so that they are not late for work
- Providing the person with a place to live or just to sleep at night, rent free
- Driving the person around, to work, school, to get drugs, anywhere
The point is that when an individual is addicted to drugs all efforts resort back to getting high. Therefore, although you mean well, the help that you give makes it even easier for the addict to focus other efforts on their addiction. Think about it, if the addict must find their own ride to work, wake themselves up or pay for their own room and board then they will be more likely to focus efforts on that and less time will be able to be focused on getting high. It’s difficult not to help, but helping is enabling!
Examples of Enabling a Drug Addict
You may have done one or more of the following for a drug addict whom you love and if you have then you have enabled a drug addict:
- Made excuses for the addict such as calling in to work for them or writing off a bad behavior as being just a “phase”
- Paying bills or other expenses
- Buying groceries because they can’t “afford” to
- Bailing them out of jail or picking them up from police custody
- Trying to rationalize behavior that is clearly irrational
- Turning a cold shoulder to problems that are caused by the drug use such as financial problems, problems at work or school, relationship failures or legal problems
- Listening to and believing or accepting the lies and excuses that the addict makes
- Allowing the drug abuse to stay in the shadows and not talking about the addiction with the addict or with someone else
- Not getting help for yourself to overcome your enabling behavior
Rehab Centers for Addicts and Their Families
Probably the most well known rehab center that provides help for loved ones and not just those addicted to drugs is the Betty Ford Center. The Betty Ford Center offers programs that are specifically tailored to help those who enable drug addicts. Enabling behaviors can be changed and they must be changed in order for a drug addict to successfully overcome the addiction. Many rehab centers offer counseling and help for the families and friends of those addicted to drugs. They can teach you about the behaviors that you are taking part in which enable the addict and they can help you make the decision to change these behaviors.
Even if your loved one does not seek help for their addiction, you can help them by changing the enabling behaviors that you take part in. As you change behaviors and the addict is left to deal with the consequences of their addiction they will become more willing to seek help – and if they don’t, at least you will have the help that you need to live knowing that you are not enabling an addiction.