Setting boundaries and keeping them can be a very difficult thing for many people to do. We work with many clients who struggle with this, particularly when they have a family member who is an addict. More often than not, clients truly believe they are helping the addict, when usually they are enabling them. We have discussed several ways of enabling an addict this week. I hope today will be helpful as well.
Arguing, pleading, begging, placating, or bargaining with an addict: The addict has to decide to stop when they are ready. If you beg them to quit for you, they will unfortunately not be doing it for themselves. Many times this leads to relapse if they do quit.
Putting yourself in jeopardy: We sometimes hear excuses such as, "I knew he was going to get drugs in a dangerous part of town, so I went with them." This puts you in jeopardy and enables the addict. Unfortunately, they are going to go whether you do or not, so it's useless to put you both in jeopardy. This includes financial jeopardy as well.
Leaving minor children alone with the alcoholic: Actually telling a spouse or a grandparent that they cannot stay alone with the children can be a big wake up call. Many people don't want to do this for fear of hurting the addicts feelings. They are willing to risk their children's safety in order to enable the addict and not hurt them. This is dangerous and NOT healthy for everyone all around, especially the kids!
Taking over responsibilities: Just like cleaning up their messes is unhealthy, so is taking on their responsibilities. Again, doing this keeps them from feeling the consequences of their behavior. For example, do you call their boss and lie to cover up an absence due to their addiction? That is enabling. They need to feel the consequence of having to call or not call. Let them deal with the consequences of not taking care of their business.
It is important to remember, addictions are not just drugs and alcohol. We use those in a lot of our examples, but it can be spending, food, money, work, gambling, computers, video games etc. They are a lot of addictions out there. Make sure you are not part of the problem that keeps the cycle going.
Tomorrow Joleen will finish us out with more enabling behaviors. Thank you for reading and have a great week!
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.