Addiction is so rampant now in our society. We all know that more and more people are dying from the ravages of this horrific situation, especially due to drugs like fentanyl that take the lives of drug users in a split second. We simply don’t have the luxury of treading lightly around addiction anymore. We each need to do all we can to shift this and get the results that all families of addicts are looking for.
It IS possible.
STOP ENABLING AND MAKE THE SHIFT
So how do we make that shift? Many of you are probably wondering how that can happen. I’d like to tell you what I think – and about what is working wonders for my clients.
In terms of recovery from addiction, it is critical for loved ones of addicts to understand the concept of enabling – because until the enabling stops, there is little hope that the addiction will stop.
There is a huge difference between enabling and helping, and the faster we all learn about that, the faster we can halt addiction in its tracks. And yes, it is that simple – even though it isn’t always easy to change one’s ways. The ‘simple’ way is not always the ‘easy’ way. Most families who are involved with addiction know a lot about enabling, even if they have never heard that term – because they have unwittingly been doing just that with the addicts they love – and many have been doing it consistently for a long time, as they witnessed the addiction continuing.
Let me give you a very brief definition: An enabling behaviour is one that keeps the addiction going. A helping behaviour assists the addiction to stop.
When we enable addiction, we’re doing things like giving money to an addict, even though we know exactly where that money will go – or we allow an addict in active addiction to live in our homes even when they contribute nothing positive to the household and in fact do things like punch holes in walls, call us terrible names, push and shove us, bring illegal substances into our homes, sleep all day and party all night… The list of disrespectful ways an enabled addict behaves goes on and on.
And it doesn’t stop until the enabling stops.
LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ENABLING AND HELPING
By the time a family comes to see me, they are usually at the end of their rope – in fact, the very first thing many of them say is “I know I’m enabling but…” They then go on to tell me why they are doing exactly that, citing plenty of reasons. What I know to be true today is that loved ones enable because no one has shown them any other way to deal with this horrific situation they’ve found themselves in. Once they learn the difference between an enabling behaviour and a helping behaviour, change begins to happen – often very quickly.
Helping behaviours consist of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries and developing our all-important self-respect. If you’re a loved one wanting to help instead of enable, you’ll need to take your own needs off the back burner and start taking care of yourself. In most cases, you’ll need to do this first so that you can role-model this for the addict in your life. You see, addicts who are still using are not going to come up to you and say “Please set healthy boundaries for me!” No – those addicts are going to try whatever they can to manipulate you to give them whatever they want in that moment. Addicts want what they want when they want it, and they want it right now. Delayed gratification isn’t the name of the game for an addict – especially one still in active addiction – and they see their job as doing whatever they have to do in order to have their desire met – right now. [Read more…]