When someone in your life — be it a family member, friend, coworker, or otherwise — struggles with substance abuse, it can be difficult to determine what steps to take in order to help them. As their disease progresses over time, you may find yourself attempting to help ease them from their struggle. However, although well-intended, your actions may actually do more harm than good for your loved one and those around them.
In reality, some actions posed towards those struggling with addiction enable the problem and only cause them to fall deeper into the disease. If you want to truly help a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse, be careful that you’re not accidentally or purposefully enabling them.
Signs You Are Enabling A Person’s Addiction
You Make Excuses for Their Behavior
Those who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse often engage in questionable, risky, or even dangerous behavior; their entire demeanor can change as their addiction worsens. Your loved one may begin distancing themselves from family members and friends, missing work or social events, lying or acting untrustworthy, or otherwise differently than they normally do.
If you find yourself lying about their absence or making excuses to others about their behavior, you’re preventing them from being responsible for their actions and allowing their addiction to continue.
You Downplay or Deny Their Addiction
It can be difficult to admit to yourself, much less to others, that your family member or friend is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. You may say that they only drink because their job is stressful or take prescription medications because of chronic pain — refusing to outwardly (or inwardly) admit they have an actual problem.
By downplaying their addiction, or denying it entirely, you allow their struggle to go unaddressed and worsen over time.
You Take on Their Responsibilities
A common symptom of substance abuse is shirking one’s responsibility — either to feed their addiction or as a result of the side effects of it. Those who struggle with drugs or alcohol may cut back on work, let chores and maintenance tasks fall by the wayside, or forget to pick up the kids after school.
You may attempt to compensate for these actions by picking up a second job or taking on more chores yourself to maintain your household. However, doing so only allows your loved one to continue prioritizing their addiction over their responsibility, enabling their disease.
You Support Them Financially
Addiction is an expensive habit, one that can leave people scrounging for ways to fuel that habit and falling into financial disparity in the process. As they try to finance their habit, adults can find themselves unable to buy groceries, allow bills to go unpaid, or even be evicted from their home.
Although you may think that, by loaning your loved one money or allowing them to stay with you if they are evicted, you’re helping them stay on their feet. However, you’re only allowing their habit to continue, since they feel secure knowing they’ll be able to financially support their habit while you help support their costs of living.
You Allow Yourself to Feel Uncomfortable
If a loved one is behaving aggressively, keeping questionable company, or doing anything else that makes you feel as though your health and safety are at risk, you shouldn’t simply settle for your discomfort.
Not only does accepting your own uneasy feelings enable their addiction-caused behavior, but it also can put you at risk of being in dangerous situations.
Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Georgia
As hard as it is to see when in the grip of an addiction, there is a bright and rich future waiting for you once you take the first steps towards recovery. At Mount Sinai Wellness Center, we are helping people make that future a reality by showing them the benefits of sobriety and empowering them to find fulfillment in their lives after treatment.
Contact us today to learn more or to speak to one of our team members.