As harsh as this may sound, if you’re enabling the drug addict in your life, it’s possible that you’re loving your child to death. Again, it sounds extreme but, knowing this will actually help you to help them – in the right kind of way.
When a parent is dealing with a son or daughter who is abusing drugs, it’s quite common for them to slip into the role of the addict’s enabler. What that means is, often times, out of parental concern and love, the parent tries to help their child however, their efforts are often misguided and actually facilitate – enable – them to continue their drug use. And because the disease of addiction is a known killer, we say that by enabling an addict, you are potentially helping them reach their demise. Here are 12 signs you’re loving your child to death.
#1. You lie for them
Whether it’s “covering” for them at work or school so as to help keep them from getting in trouble, you are undoubtedly enabling them by shielding them from the negative consequences of their actions.
#2. You give them money
People who are addicted to drugs are usually quite good at manipulating others. And, in the case of the addict being your child, they will lay it on thick, using guilt to get you to give them money. However, by giving them money, you are directly funding (as opposed to #3) their habit because that is where that money is going to go, no matter what they tell you it’s being used for.
#3. You pay their bills
Paying your child’s bills is also enabling because it is indirectly funding their habit. First of all, you are again keeping them from experiencing the negative consequences of their drug use (i.e. losing power, not having groceries, etc.). Secondly, by paying their bills, you are freeing up their other funds to go directly to the purchase of their substance(s) of abuse. When you look at it this way, you can clearly see how this is loving you’re child to death – you are helping them to continue to slowly (or in the case of overdose, not so slowly) kill themselves with drugs.
#4. You give them rides
Maybe they don’t have a car or theirs is broken down so, you make sure they get to class or work by providing them with transportation. This, again, is a clear enabling behavior. “But,” you’re thinking, “they’ll get kicked out of school/lose their job if I don’t make sure they get there every day.” Unfortunately, for many addicts, it takes experiencing such dire consequences before they finally realize that their lives are becoming unmanageable and that they have a problem.
#5. You bail them out of jail
Obviously, by bailing your drug addict child out of jail and/or paying their legal fees, you are clearly enabling them. You are basically sending the message that it’s OK for them to be doing what they’re doing. Loving your child unconditionally and loving them to death are two very different things.
#6. You allow them to stay with you rent-free
By providing a stable place to live, you are making it that much easier for them to continue abusing substances. It’s a difficult thing to do but, you can’t allow your drug addict child to stay in your home while they continue to use. That might just mean that they’ll be homeless but, again, people in the grips of a drug addiction need to experience something as powerful as that in order to be able to really take a look at what their lives have become and then – hopefully – choose to do something about it.
#7. You make excuses for their drinking/drug use – perhaps to scrutinizing family members
Maybe your child endured some kind of trauma or is dealing with an illness; however, if they are abusing substances with this premise and you are in turn using their excuses to deflect questions, then you’re enabling your child to continue their drug use.
#8. You assume part of the blame for your child’s drinking and/or drugging
Maybe you feel partly responsible for their substance abuse because you couldn’t provide the most stable home life when raising your child or maybe you just assume that, because they’re using drugs, you must have done something wrong. This kind of thinking is normal for a parent who is dealing with a drug addicted child. However, doing this is yet another way you are enabling them. There is support available to those in your same position. Check out Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Family Anonymous. These are free support groups that hold meetings for the loved ones of alcoholics and addicts.
#9. You avoid talking about to your child about their substance use
Because you’re afraid of how they’ll react. They often lash out, say hurtful things, get defensive, or else give you the silent treatment. This is yet again a sign that you’re enabling your child. You are allowing them to call the shots, as it were, by using emotional manipulation to keep you “in line” and from asking/confronting them about their problem.
#10. You tried drinking or using with your addicted child as a way to somehow “strengthen the relationship”
You think that by drinking or smoking pot with your child, you can forge a stronger bond with them. Maybe they will listen to you more if they think you’re ‘cool.’ This will more than likely backfire as they will use it as a way to make you feel guilty for somehow contributing to their problem.
#11. You feel bullied by your drug addict child
You let them call the shots and you feel like you have to walk on eggshells when in their presence. You are afraid to talk to them about their problem and you are constantly sweeping things under the rug.
#12. You make empty threats
You have given your child ultimatums, such as threatening to kick them out of the house if they don’t stop using, yet you always give them ‘just one more chance.’
It can be difficult to determine whether your child is using and abuse drugs, at first, at least. Once they have developed a full-blown substance abuse problem or drug addiction, it can be a rocky road that leads them to ultimately realizing they need help. Take comfort in knowing that there is specialized treatment designed to help people who are addicted to drugs to heal and that recovery is possible. Please call Palm Partners toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with someone today. We are available 27/7 and we can answer your questions about drug addiction and enabling.