As with most behaviors, families learn to enable addictions. Just about everything a family learns about addiction is taught to them by the addict. Because of this, every intervention is composed of 2 parts: the intervention with the family and the intervention with the substance abuser. The family needs to be met with first because we need to break them of their enabling habits. An addict or alcoholic can almost never get drunk or high without additional resources. Because of this, the loved one requires some form of enabling behavior from the family. Family First Intervention does not suggest that you proactively ruin your loved one’s life. Instead, we show you how to make your loved one become accountable for the addiction. The intervention helps the family stop the enabling behaviors so that the addict can start on the road to recovery.
There are 3 main types of enabling behaviors: passively providing comfort, actively taking away consequences, and encouragement.
Passively Providing Comfort
This consists of anything we do or do not do that makes a substance abuser more comfortable with the addiction, including negative behaviors that encourage the addictive lifestyle.
- Denying, rationalizing, or minimizing
- Not confronting the addict
- Keeping the loved one’s problems a secret
- Tolerating increasingly worse behaviors
- Not calling the police when a crime is committed against you
- Allowing your loved one to stay in the home
Consequences of Enabling Addicts
- Blaming ourselves or others for the loved one’s behavior
- Bearing the negative consequences for the loved one
- Providing rent, money, or food
- Taking over financial responsibilities
- Allowing the loved one to use your car
Encouragement of Addictive Behaviors and Substance Abuse
This entails anything we do that directly increases the chances of our loved one continuing the behaviors of substance abuse.
- Drinking or using with the substance abuser
- Giving money to support the habit
- Putting yourself in jeopardy by allowing drug activities in the home
- Driving the substance abuser to the bar or to drug hangouts
- Getting the loved one’s prescriptions or paying for them
- Buying drugs or liquor for the substance abuser
Why Families Enable Addicts
Families enable for the same reason their loved one uses: enabling is a comfortable alternative to avoid facing the problem head on. The families we help are shocked to discover that their enabling is similar to their loved one’s addiction. Families enable their loved ones from feeling the consequences of their emotions, environment, health, finances and spirituality. Until the addict or alcoholic feels significant consequences in these areas they are more likely to choose abusing drugs or alcohol over seeking sobriety.
Enabling prevents an alcoholic from hitting bottom and getting the help needed. Until your loved one becomes uncomfortable with the addiction and the enabling behaviors stop, he or she will not get the help so desperately needed. The importance of a reliable support system, however, can not be overstated.
This free eBook can guide families as they support a loved one in breaking free from addiction.