A lot of times when family and friends try to “help” alcoholics, they are in fact making it easier for them to remain in the progression of the disease. This baffling occurrence is called enabling, which takes many forms, all of which have the same result. When it comes to our loved ones, it’s really difficult to know how not to enable them in their addiction. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, we always want to help and be there for the people we love. I’ve seen and learned that enabling realistically just ends up making things worse for someone in active addiction or alcoholism. So, I’ve put together a list on what not to do to enable addicts and alcoholics.
What Not to Do: Enabling Behavior:
Take on tasks for the alcoholic that would normally be their responsibility.
Give or lend the alcoholic money.
Bail the alcoholic out of jail.
Drink or do drugs with the alcoholic.
Make threats to the alcoholic.
Let the alcoholic use your car or vehicle.
Pay the alcoholics bills for them.
Basically anything to do with money and an addict or alcoholic is not suggested.
Analyze the alcoholic, look for underlying reasons behind it.
Ask them to make promises you know they aren’t going to keep.
Preach or lecture them.
Accommodate the disease.
Plead for them to stay sober.
Bribe them to stay sober.
Anything that enables them to continue living the lifestyle they are living.
These are just a few ideas of what not to do to enable an alcoholic or an addict. Of course you also have to remember each person and situation is different, what might enable one person might not enable another. There is also a huge difference between helping someone and enabling them. Helping someone is doing something for them that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling is doing things for someone they could and should be doing themselves.
One of the most important things I can suggest for someone struggling with enabling an alcoholic or an addict is seek support. Just like there are 12-step meetings for addiction, there are also meetings for people who know or are affected by alcoholics and addicts that can provide guidance. I know that when I was in the prime of my addiction it helped my family to focus on themselves, which is what you should be doing.
I’ve also seen situations where if certain addicts or alcoholics were ’left alone’ it could end up being life threatening for them. In my honest opinion, there can be times when ceasing the enabling process can have a bad outcome; so you really have to weigh the pros and cons of this. No matter what you think might be best, having support through these situations can make a world of a difference. There are also great options like seeing a therapist who specializes in these types of problem; and of course to learn about the disease or alcoholism and addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction and looking for detox centers, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.