Helping a loved one with a substance use disorder is far from straightforward. If you’re not careful, you can unknowingly set up roadblocks to recovery and reward negative behaviors. There’s even a name for it. It’s called “enabling,” and it’s comprised of a variety of actions that allow your loved one to avoid any consequences and continue using with a sense of security that you’ll always be there to rescue him or her from any mistakes.
Some experts say the difference between helping and enabling is this:
“Helping is doing something for someone that they’re not capable of doing themselves.”
“Enabling is doing for someone things that they could and should be doing themselves.”
9 Questions to Ask Yourself
So how can you tell if you are an enabler? Start by asking yourself these questions; if you answer “yes,” you may have enabled your loved one’s addiction at some point in time.
Have you ever…
- Made excuses for your loved one’s behavior?
- Lied cover up for your loved one?
- Bailed out your loved one and/or paid his or her legal fees?
- Ignored your loved one’s addiction out of fear of the response?
- Paid bills for or loaned money to your loved one?
- Used with your loved one?
- Given your loved one a “last chance” and then another and another?
- Threatened to leave only to stay?
- Finished a school or work task that your loved one failed to complete?
Help for Families
Take heart: You can take steps to change your behavior and actions to ensure you are in fact helping (not enabling) your loved one – and there are many resources available to guide you. Start by contacting us today. Our family support services can provide you with the support and coaching needed to help your loved one in early recovery and beyond. Call: 866-905-4550.