30 Mar 6 Signs You’re Enabling a Drug Addict
The first signs of drug or alcohol addiction can be hard to recognize. This is often especially true for those closest to the person falling into substance abuse. It’s common and instinctive to go through denial when you first see signs that a loved one might be heading towards addiction. You want to believe that it’s not true and that they don’t really have a problem. Unfortunately, denial or not wanting to believe your loved one has a problem can lead to enabling behavior. Enabling addiction also makes it hard for the addicted person to get help and see their own problematic behavior.
It’s important to remember that a substance use disorder is a serious mental health problem that requires professional treatment.
What Is Enabling?
Before you can know if you’re enabling addiction, it’s a good idea to know exactly what enabling means. The simplest meaning is anything that contributes to a person’s continued substance abuse can be considered enabling. The contribution can be direct or indirect. For example, direct enabling would be buying drugs or alcohol for the addicted person. Another example might be giving them money, even though you know that they’re using it to buy drugs or alcohol. Indirect enabling is more difficult to define. Some examples of indirect enabling are as follows:
• Denying that your loved one has a problem
• Making excuses for their negative or destructive behavior
• Helping them financially when their addiction has caused their loss
• Getting them out of legal difficulties caused by their addiction
It’s natural to feel protective over a loved one. But enabling a drug addict ultimately prevents them from getting help and seeing what addiction is doing to their life.
How do you know if you’re enabling your loved one’s addiction?
Let’s take a closer look at some signs that you’re enabling a drug addict
One of the biggest signs of enabling is making excuses for the addicted person’s behavior. Addiction often causes a myriad of problems in a person’s life. They may start neglecting their responsibilities, not going to work, not going to school, not paying their bills and many other things. They may also start exhibiting problematic behavior in social settings such as being aggressive or behaving wildly. It’s very common for people with addiction to neglect personal hygiene as well. All of these signs let other people see that the person is dealing with substance abuse. However, if you make excuses for your loved one’s behavior and deny that they have a problem, then it keeps your loved one from having to experience consequences.
Ignoring or Enabling Dangerous Behavior
It’s one thing to make excuses for things like bad hygiene or missing work, but when you begin to excuse dangerous behavior caused by addiction, then you’re definitely enabling the person. For example, your loved one might start driving intoxicated or participating in criminal activity in order to get drugs or money. If you help pay their legal fees or bail them out of jail, then you’re definitely enabling their addiction. Even simply ignoring this type of behavior can be considered enabling a drug addict.
Putting Your Loved One’s Needs Over Your Own
Another indirect way of enabling drug or alcohol addiction is by putting the person’s needs over your own. You might start helping them in various ways even though it’s causing you inconvenience or stress. You might avoid confronting them or revealing your emotions for fear of upsetting them. By making these constant personal sacrifices, you’re potentially setting yourself up for a mental health crisis, which can include depression and even substance abuse. Prioritizing your addicted loved one’s needs over your own allows them to continue their addiction while also harming you in the process.
Enabling By Accepting Manipulation or Lies
If you accept your loved one’s manipulation or lies without any consequences, then this is one of the signs of enabling. This means that when your loved one lies to you about their drug or alcohol addiction, you accept it without confronting them. It’s easy to see why you might fall into this type of indirect enabling. Confronting someone over and over about their lies can get exhausting. They might lash out at you or start avoiding you. However, not confronting them over lies about their drug or alcohol addiction can encourage them to keep doing it. It can also damage your own sense of dignity to continue accepting lies and manipulations as truth.
Using Drugs or Alcohol With Your Loved One
It’s actually fairly common for people in a close relationship with an addicted person to fall into addiction themselves. Using drugs or alcohol is one of the most direct forms of addiction enabling. This is true even if you’re able to use the substances in a moderate and controlled way. A person with an addiction has no ability to moderate their use of a substance. This is a common method of enabling alcohol addiction.
Don’t Convince Yourself They Will Get Better On Their Own
Another trap that people sometimes fall into when they have an addicted loved one is thinking that they will get better on their own. However, addiction is a serious mental health issue that typically gets worse without treatment. A person cannot simply will themselves out of addictive behavior. To make things even worse, drugs and alcohol rewire the brain, which causes the person to have little or no control over their addictive behavior. Instead, they will seek more and more of their substance of choice, and it will consume their lives to the detriment of everything else. Without treatment, your loved one is likely to face worsening health and risk of overdose.
How To Stop Enabling
The first step is to recognize the behaviors that enable your loved one to continue using drugs or alcohol. It’s often very helpful to join a support group for substance use disorders or get in touch with a treatment professional. Many people who enable their loved ones substance use don’t realize that they’re doing it. In some cases, you might have to make more difficult decisions, such as leaving your relationship with them.
Encourage Your Loved One To Seek Treatment
Instead of taking part in the behaviors that enable your loved one’s addiction, look for ways to help them seek treatment. Experiencing the consequences of negative behavior can be a big motivator for some people. If your loved one has another mental health issue on top of addiction, you can also try encouraging them to seek help for that at a dual diagnosis treatment center like New Method Wellness. Sometimes when people look for help with their mental health, a dual diagnosis can also start them on the path of recovering from addiction.