When a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s difficult to watch them suffer. Family members and friends want to offer support and attempt to rescue the person they care about, but sometimes they end up enabling an addiction. Many times a person isn’t aware they are enabling someone, which makes it important to know some of the signs of enabling an addiction.
6 Signs of Enabling an Addiction
1. Lying About Someone’s Addictive Behaviors: A loved one may feel sympathy for someone who battles a substance use disorder, which leads them to feel they should offer protection from consequences. This could entail denying that the person drank or used drugs, or downplaying the severity of something negative that happened as a result of it.
While it may feel good in the short run to “rescue” the person, it only delays their need to own their behaviors and what happens as a result of them. Stripping away the protection that comes from lying on their behalf can force them to face up to their addiction quicker.
2. Placing Blame Where It Does Not Belong: A hallmark of a person addicted to drugs and alcohol is their reliance on blaming others for their addictive behaviors. A loved one who reinforces the blame or does their own unfair blaming ultimately is enabling an addiction.
It may feel convenient to say a specific person “made” someone drink or an unfair circumstance “made” them use drugs, but the reality is that everyone makes choices about how to behave. When they make that choice, the consequences are often predictable. Letting them learn how to make better choices holds more value than playing the blame game.
3. Engaging in Codependent Behaviors: One of the main characteristics of being codependent is placing someone else’s needs ahead of one’s own. When a person puts their lives on hold or places a higher priority on their loved one’s life at all costs, they are enabling an addiction.
People naturally want to help people they care about, but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Living their own lives and not putting them on hold whenever a person consumed by addiction runs into trouble provides a good example of living responsibly. It also provides a living example of how life goes on, even when someone else’s life spins out of control because of substance abuse.
4. Ignoring Negative and Damaging Behavior: A person whose life has become out of control because of addiction does not suffer alone. Aggressive and sometimes violent behavior impacts family members and friends, particularly children who have no options for leaving the environment. When a person continues to act in ways that wreck their home lives, damage is done to children, parents, siblings, spouses, and others.
Ignoring this behavior does not have any positive side to it. In fact, it reinforces the idea that a person can get away with verbal, emotional, or physical abuse because family members are afraid to confront them. When loved ones band together and let the person know their behavior will no longer be tolerated, they offer protection to themselves, and motivation for the addict to change.
5. Not Enforcing a Cut-off Point: Addicts often come to rely on preying on the sympathies of their loved ones in order to delay getting help. As hard as it is to watch someone suffer, people must set cut-off points and stick to them. They can tell the loved ones that they will pay a bill or provide some other resource of support, but it will be for the last time.
People who need treatment for their addiction often learn to avoid getting it by relying on those who care about them to bail them out over and over again. Letting the loved one know that they will no longer provide something like cash, bill paying, shelter, or tolerance for rude or abusive behavior can force the person to accept responsibility. When they have to experience things like not having money or a place to go, that can force them to reckon with how low their addiction has brought them.
6. Bailing Someone Out of Legal Trouble: Often a person addicted to drugs or alcohol ends up on the wrong side of the law. Someone who cares about them likely wants to help them out, even at a cost to their own finances, but that’s not always the right answer. A person who has been arrested for DUI/DWI or a drug charge may assume their family or friends will rescue them.
While not every situation is the same, someone who has been arrested multiple times might benefit from not being bailed out of jail yet again. For many addicts, their wake-up call happened when they had to spend time in jail or had to scramble to find a way to pay for things like bail, an attorney, court costs, or probation. These types of situations can put an end to enabling an addiction and cause the person to realize they have to either get sober or face life-altering consequences.
Addiction Treatment in Phoenix
At Continuum Recovery Center, we know how difficult it is to reach out for help. Our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs provide multiple types of therapy that address the whole person. We employ therapy and holistic treatment to heal addiction and mental health issues.
If you would like more information about how our program can help you or someone you love, contact Continuum Recovery Center now.