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Enabling & Substance Abusers

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What is Enabling?

Waiting for Change

One of the most common errors we see in families with a loved one struggling from addiction is waiting for things to change. Most addicts are on a one-way street to self-destruction and will take any enabler down with them. This behaviour is usually not intentional. It is an attempt to survive without feeling pain. The addict will use close relatives and friends with a weakness for anyone suffering.  Anyone enabling is doing so to help ease suffering.

Different drugs & enabling

Drug-Addicted Individual  

When a substance abuser needs his next dose or hit, he will contact a family member or close friend.  They will seek out people who will sympathize with their problems to get what they want. The situation brought to the person’s attention is likely consequences of their use, no money for rent, food, etc. The addict will lie, betray, cheat, and even steal to satisfy their cravings.

The Enabler

Falling prey to this behaviour will only prolong the addiction and strengthen the unhealthy bond with the enabler. Paying someone’s rent, hydro bill, or covering car payments is enabling. The enabler wants to avoid pain for the relative while avoiding the white elephant in the room. When you don’t face the person with their dependence, it will only spiral out of control. Whatever you do to prevent their destruction will not work; it is part and parcel of addiction. Each time someone helps the addict with money, it results in them doing more drugs.

The Correct Approach

When they tell you they need money to pay rent or bills, tell them you will pay it directly. Do not hand them money. If they start whining and make you feel guilty, just hold your position. That is one of the tactics an addict uses to get what they want. Make them see that you refuse to help unless they get professional addiction counselling. Tell them, “I will help you financially to get help for your drug use.”

These and any variation of this approach is what will ultimately help the addict. The person abusing illicit drugs, alcohol or prescription medication must realize help is available. They also need to show that they honestly want out, and it’s not just another trick to get your support.

Always Talk Treatment

Putting all resentment aside, talk to them about treatment on a continuous basis and it will slowly become real. When the day comes, and the person says, “I’m ready; I want to change; I need help; I need to go to rehab,” this will be your cue. You now must follow through with the fast action of getting the person admitted to a good residential rehab center. The less time spent searching, the better the chances of having the person follow through with their decision to get help. Sometimes the best way to do this is to have a referral counsellor on your “speed dial.”

Information on Options for Rehabs

Beforehand, you can start your research by calling various facilities.  Get information, find out about the options available to you. You can be on top of it. The more you know, the better you’ll feel and taking responsibility for this person will not overwhelm you. Knowledge is a powerful tool to take advantage of so, accumulate some.

For information on substance abuse and drug addiction treatments available, take the time and call one of our addiction referral counsellors. They can make this ordeal easier for you.