ENABLING refers to the tendency of those connected with people suffering from drug addiction or alcohol abuse to “help” the person. However, in doing so, they allow the addict to avoid the consequences of their drug abuse and/or alcoholism.
In order for addicts to become willing to make the changes that lead to recovery, it is necessary to break through their denial so that they can recognize the need for change. Enabling prevents addicts from suffering the consequences of their disease, and allows them to continue in denial.
Enabling can increase the length of time necessary for addicts and alcoholics to “hit rock bottom” by many years. It is always the wrong course of action, and it makes the enabler an accomplice in the disease process. Would you rather see your loved one go to jail for DUI, or to the morgue the next time she drives drunk?
Here are some questions that will give you an idea of how you stack up in the enabling department.
- Have you ever ‘called in sick’ for your addict because they were too hungover to go to work or school?
- Do you ever make excuses for the addict’s drinking, drugging or behavior?
- Have you ever lied to anyone to cover up for the alcoholic? How about lying to yourself?
- Have you ever bailed the addict out of jail or paid his or her legal fees?
- Have you accepted part of the blame for an alcoholic’s drinking or behavior?
- Do you avoid talking about the person’s drinking and drugging out of fear of the response?
- Have you paid bills that the addict was supposed to have paid?
- Have you “loaned” them money?
- Have you tried drinking or using drugs with the addict in hopes of strengthening the relationship?
- Have you given your addict “one more chance” — and then another and another?
- Have you threatened to leave if they didn’t stop drinking or using and then did not leave?
- Have you finished a job or project that the alcoholic failed to complete himself?
If you answered Yes to any of these questions you have enabled the alcoholic or addict to avoid the consequences of his or her own actions. There are many more examples, but these are the common ones.
Al-Anon and Nar-Anon Family Groups are support fellowships for families and friends of alcoholics and addicts. You might want to investigate what they have to offer.