Lets start by defining the term enabling. To enable is to supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity to be or do something – to make feasible or possible. The act of enabling is born of positive intentions, such as helping a loved one, but when it comes to certain problems, such as enabling an addiction to manifest itself within a loved one, the reverse effect will occur. This means that a parent, wife, child, or any loved one for that matter, while the intentions may be good, are hurting the person by trying to help them.
Enabling can range anywhere from giving the addict money (which will be inevitably be spent on drugs), to giving them food, allowing them to continue living at your place, and continually breaking rules without any consequences. This lenient behavior allows the addict to manipulate the people who care for them most, and at the same time allows the continuation of their addiction.
Other examples of enabling behaviors include:
-Bailing out of jail numerous times
-Always giving “one more chance” over and over again
-Ignoring their problem and not confronting the issue of their chemical use
-Repeatedly coming to the rescue in financial problems and other “tight situations” they get themselves into
-Cleaning up their messes
-Staying out all night, sleeping all day, avoiding confrontation at all costs
-Believing their lies
-Paying for their addiction to prevent harm that may come from supplying the addiction themselves
The painful truth is something that any parent would consider the hardest thing they have ever done. In order to truly help your loved one, you must emotionally distance yourself from them to the point you not longer feel the urge to help them when they come to you. The addict has the mindset that every time they get in trouble, the solution is to call their parents for help.
Saying no is the only way they will ever feel the repercussions of their destructive lifestyle and someday make a change. If you continually enable them and allow their inexcusable behaviors to persist, they will never reach a “bottom” which is when they will begin to realize the life-choices they have made, and that things need to change.
At some point, you will probably have to call the police to report their violent and belligerent behavior, and at some point you will probably have to change the locks on your house, and possibly even issue a restraining order. The truth is that if you had a stranger banging at your door at all hours demanding money in an inebriated state, you would without question call the police. The frightening realization you must come to is that your loved one is a stranger now.
In the throes of addiction, your loved one is no longer the person you once knew, and they will steal from you, and even possibly hurt you. The only way to defend against this behavior and to really help your loved one, is to become emotionally distanced to the point of indifference. Only then will your loved one really hit a bottom, and this is when recovery can begin.