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helping vs enabling


Helping vs. Enabling

When a loved one struggles with substance abuse, stepping in and helping is a natural reaction. We want to help them and often do, as that is what the norms of society and friendship dictate. But what about those cases when that person we help, we think (or know) has a substance-abuse problem? Understanding the difference between helping vs. enabling can be tricky.

So, how can we help them, but do so without feeding their addiction? If someone you know suffers from addiction, please be aware that your assistance may inadvertently be enabling their habit either directly or indirectly, not helping them pay a bill. Addicts are gifted liars, their entire life revolves around hiding their habit from those in their day-to-day relationships. Don’t feel bad if you fall for their lies. However, once you do suspect they have a problem, confront them. If you do not, you are enabling that habit, and their behavior to continue.  

Helping vs. Enabling: What is the Difference?

Making excuses for someone who struggles with substance abuse is enabling them. In addition, if nobody steps up to confront them, the whole group is also guilty of enabling that addiction to continue. Once you realize your loved one spends their money on drugs, and they come to you needing help, your initial reaction to give them what they need and ignore the problem “just for right now” is the opposite of what you should do. The moment you pass up the chance to directly address their problem, you have defined yourself as an enabler. 

Even if you quit giving them money or providing rides and do not confront them, that is also enabling their habit. That sneaking sensation in the back of your mind that your loved one has a substance problem may cause you to stay silent for fear of making things worse, so you decide to ignore and sidestep the topic. When they skip an event, do you make an excuse for their absence? Or, if they show up and act out, do you apologize and explain it away? Whether you are concerned with appearances or just want to help, the result is the same; they got away with their actions.

By providing an excuse, you unfortunately enabled it. With that said, don’t feel bad, every addict is a professional, major league quality liar. This makes determining helping vs. enabling incredibly difficult. The challenge of accounting for a day or week without mentioning the hours they spent either using or chasing their drug changes addicts into gifted liars. So, when any opportunity arises where they could benefit, they can concoct some need as justification, right on the fly.  

In these situations, the problem was allowed to continue far too long. Now they are an open secret among the family and its close friends. As soon as you know the problem exists, step in. There are television shows such as Intervention on A&E which follow people as their family and friends confront them about their substance abuse.

How to Stop Enabling Your Grown Child

If you have an alcoholic among your loved ones, check out Al Anon. Al Anon is a support group for people whose lives are affected by someone else’s alcoholism. If you would like to hear suggestions on how to deal with an addict and ways to help that do not enable them, this is an informative group.

Alcoholism affects the entire family. When addicts burn one bridge, they simply move along to the next one. The only way to break that cycle is to intervene. Acting quickly before a problem festers is the key to lessening the damage. No matter how bad the problem might be, it does not get better with each passing drink for either the drink or the family. 

A few short years ago if someone got pulled over driving drunk, a friendly phone call might have been made occasionally to save the person a headache. These days the wisdom is to allow the arrest and consequences to go ahead. The small suffering now could potentially prevent a massive trauma in the future. This is a prime example of helping vs. enabling because making that phone call to help out is enabling that behavior and without any consequences the person will definitely repeat it. 

At Home Detox in Los Angeles

If you have an alcoholic or addict among your close friends, speak up and step in. If you are unsure how to approach them, call MD Home Detox as they offer a full range of assistance from your first suspicion to post-treatment support, MD Home Detox offers services across the nation and can help anyone at any stage in the process from detailing a medical professional to addict-proof the residence to developing a workout plan they cover every facet of the process in detail. You may learn more about their services by calling them at (888) 592-7931.

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