(press release: summitbehavioralhealth) // New Jersey // Maria Ulmer MA, LMFT, CAADC | Chief Operating Officer
Drug and alcohol rehab center, Serenity at Summit helps family members of addicted patients understand how to stop enabling behavior.
What is an Enabler?
An enabler is someone who unknowingly helps facilitate an individual’s addiction by eliminating the incentive for the addict to change. Enablers do not directly support the addiction, but their actions in trying to help their addicted loved one often remove the natural negative consequences of the addiction, making it harder for their family member to see why they need to stop using. Enablers are often just attempting to help the addicted person, but in reality, they may be causing more harm.
Enabling comes in many forms. It may be that someone gives the addicted person a place to stay, pays their bills or gives them money. This takes away the natural consequences of the addiction – the addicted person has a roof over their head, isn’t in debt, and had more money to buy drugs.
How Do You Know if You Are an Enabler?
It’s important that enablers recognize their role in the addicted person’s life and make changes. If you have an addicted person in your life, you may be wondering if your actions related to him or her are enabling. The following questions may give you some insight:
Do you try to cover up or keep the addiction a secret?
Do you find yourself making excuses for your loved one’s behavior?
Do you try to avoid conflict with your addicted loved one?
Do you take on your addicted loved one’s responsibilities?
Do you like feeling needed by the addicted person?
Have you given your addicted loved one money, paid their bills, or bailed them out of jail?
Do you believe that your loved one’s addiction is a phase?
Have you given your addicted loved one multiple chances?
Do you feel like you have a parent-child relationship with your loved one, even though he or she is not your child but your spouse?
Do you ever participate in risky behaviors with your addicted loved one?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be enabling your loved one’s addiction.
Stopping Enabling Behavior
How do you go about stopping enabling behavior? The following are some steps for you to consider:
Don’t be afraid of the outcome. Your behavior may seem like the best course of action because you are afraid of what will happen if you don’t intervene for the addicted person. For example, you may go pick up your spouse from the bar so he or she won’t get a DUI on the way home, which would create a financial hardship for your family. Even though it may seem like a good idea, you are removing negative consequences that may motivate your spouse to seek help.
Be assertive and set boundaries. You have to be assertive with setting boundaries. For example, you may tell the addicted person that you will no longer give him or her money or bail him or her out of jail again. The crucial part of this is to stick to what you say. You have to stand firm and not give in.
Don’t allow your well-being to suffer. Your first priority must be taking care of your well-being. That may seem selfish at first, but you have been trying to take care of others for a long time and now you need to take care of yourself. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and being socially active are just a few of the ways you can take care of yourself.
Expect unreliability. When you stop enabling behavior, your loved one who is addicted may become even more unpredictable with theirs. They may be actively angry and they take that anger out on you.
Seek help for yourself. The ultimate hope is that your loved one will seek help for his or her addiction. However, that may not happen as soon as you would like, or even ever. In the meantime, you have to go on with your life and you want it to be as happy and fulfilling as possible. That may mean that you should seek help for yourself. Getting help for yourself will provide you with the support and resources to have the life you want, no matter what your addicted family member chooses to do.
About Serenity at Summit
At Serenity at Summit, we can help patients and their families begin healing the wounds of addiction. Please contact us with your questions and concerns. We can help you decide which type of recovery program will work best for you and your loved ones.
FOR DRUG & ALCOHOL DETOX & PERSONALIZED 12 STEP PROGRAM ADDICTION TREATMENT
Serenity at Summit - New Jersey Addiction Treatment Centers - 609-422-5788 (Union, NJ)
40 Minutes from New York City
Serenity at Summit - New England, Addiction Treatment Centers
978-574-5999 (Haverhill, MA)
45 Minutes from Boston, Massachusetts