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Am I Enabling Addiction in a Loved One?

enabling addiction

Trusting someone we know is a natural human trait. However, when people fall victim to the disease of addiction, it blurs the line between being a supportive friend and enabling their addiction. When a friend or loved one struggles to make ends meet we often reach out and help because that is what family and friends do for each other. Even when their stories do not sound completely on the up and up it is natural to offer some form of assistance. 

Most of us have heard stories of people who faked an illness and started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds which were then spent elsewhere. Our humanity leads us to help those who are less fortunate or struggling in some way, and it is this sentiment which addicts use unsuspecting loved ones to enable their disease. This is not a one-of story either, many people have preyed on the kindness of strangers, by creating fake diseases and asking for help, usually after those have burned every friend and family member they have. Just because that person may not actually have cancer, does not mean they are not suffering from an illness, addiction is as real a disease as cancer, AIDS, or any other serious illness and can be just as deadly when left untreated. 

Some addicts function adequately with giving no clue about their disease for years, while other addicts plummet and hit their rock-bottom, seemingly overnight. Just like the many varieties of cancer, there are also many varying stages of addiction and by enabling a person to feed theirs, we can make it worse. Societal norms dictate that family members be there for each other in times of crisis, but loved ones who are addicts face a crisis daily, and they abuse that help and trust. When someone’s main focus is using drugs or alcohol, other aspects of their lives will suffer, maybe they call in sick to work which leads them to borrow money. That loan is the first step towards being an enabler, the same as paying their power bill to keep the flights on. Addicts might have great credit with their dealer, but not with their bank and credit cards. 

Am I Enabling Addiction?

Taking a tough-love approach instead of loaning them the money, had you forced them to go work and struggle through that day, might make them hesitate before using or drinking on a work night again. Small lessons like these help addicts learn and prevent their substance abuse habit from getting so bad as quickly. Not reinforcing adult behavior is enabling that addiction to take more and more control over your loved one’s decision-making skills and doing them no favor. 

The result of your enabling an addiction is those small issues you helped avoid, will likely result in much larger consequences given time. When someone is convicted of DUI, the punishment is designed to be a huge inconvenience. A first DUI will cost several thousand dollars in total between fines and court costs, probation fees, any restitution, the cost of an ignition-interlock device, and intangible costs like an UBER or taxi to go to work while being prohibited from any driving. It is understandable to help them out, so you may help drive them around, sometimes “throw them a few bucks to help out.” That is textbook enabling behavior, even if you did not directly feed their addiction like buying their heroin and cooking it, you helped that loved one divert their time and money to their addiction and the end result may very well be the same.

In short, you’ve enabled that habit to continue, and it will usually get worse, not better. Instead of that simple misdemeanor drunk driving charge, that lesson might come from causing a head-on collision one day. Learning that lesson might cost a random family of four, their lives. Learning from our mistakes is a normal part of growing up, most people learn from them and carry on. Addicts are too focused on their singular, daily need to drink or use drugs, and they cannot see anything else other than using and keeping them from realizing how sick they are. Some people learn quickly, just being made to do a roadside sobriety check might be enough to never drink and drive again, while others it may require stacking up multiple DUI charges. Until someone hits their personal rock-bottom, they are doomed to repeat the same behaviors, and they usually get worse, not better. 

Alcohol & Drug Rehab in Dallas, TX

The problem with substance abuse is a habit never stays the same. It takes more to achieve the same feeling with each passing day and that tolerance grows until one day, it is simply too much and tragedy occurs. If you care for someone, and they exhibit the signs of substance abuse confront them. With any disease it will get worse so step in and inconvenience them, it will be the best favor you could do. Call Casa Colina at (844) 974-2272 (CASA) or, click here to email us and throw a stumbling block, before a roadblock is necessary.  

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