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Despite the fact that millions of Americans are currently struggling with substance abuse, only a fraction of them receive proper treatment.
According to a report published by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, only about 1 in 10 people with a substance use disorder will receive any type of care for their condition. Unfortunately, it’s the families of these addicts that will deal with the brunt of the consequences.
The problem becomes even worse when members of the addict’s family are actively enabling self-destructive behaviors. In cases like these, the toxic dynamic between the addict and the enabling family member spills out to the rest of the household.
As the substance abuse problem grows worse, relationships between family members continue to erode and the addict slips further away from his or her most important lifelines. That’s why it is critical that family members of addicts recognize and end their enabling behaviors.
Toxic Behaviors Are Encouraged
When a partner, child or parent enables a family member, they shield the addict from the consequences of their actions. This enabling may come in the form of paying rent or monthly bills for a spouse, providing housing to a child without a job or covering for a drunk parent when they miss work. Regardless of how the enabling occurs, covering for an addict simply encourages the individual to continue living his or her self-destructive lifestyle.
More often than not, these cycles of enabling have several negative effects on the rest of the family. An addicted parent coming and going at all hours, for example, could hamper a child’s ability to get consistent rest before school.
As another example, a child on drugs may verbally abuse his or her siblings, turning the once-peaceful household into an unsafe environment. When these behaviors go unchallenged, the addict is enabled to take out their problems on the rest of the family.
Family Funds Are Threatened
Giving money to an addict is an extremely risky enabling behavior. Despite the obvious dangers of providing funds to a family member with a substance abuse problem, this is one of the most common forms of enabling. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most problematic.
Finances lead to a large number of family arguments, both between spouses and between children and their parents. When money begins to disappear from shared bank accounts or parents can no longer afford to provide essential items for their children, a heated discussion is lurking just around the corner. It’s hard for loved ones to not feel hurt when all of the family’s finances begin to go toward enabling an addict’s lifestyle.
Loved Ones Feel Neglected
Older siblings can feel resentful when a younger brother or sister gets all the attention. The same type of resentment can affect the entire family when all of the attention is directed toward an addict. The more money, attention and special treatment afforded to a family member struggling with addiction, the more likely other family members will feel overlooked.
In addition to adding to a tense atmosphere at home, this ongoing resentment makes it difficult for family members to maintain healthy lines of communication. Open conversation between family members is absolutely essential to helping an addicted spouse, child or parent stop consuming drugs or alcohol. In this way, toxic family dynamics threaten to derail attempts to get the addict the help he or she desperately needs.
Addiction Treatment Is Delayed
The longer an addict is enabled by his or her family, the more likely that the addict will never receive treatment for substance abuse. In some cases, the addict succumbs to an overdose before he or she can be convinced to quit.
In other scenarios, relationships between family members become so toxic that little room remains for healthy, productive conversation between loved ones. Time is short for families to stop enabling and start getting proper help for their loved ones.
Thankfully, families can get assistance with breaking their enabling habits and getting their loved ones into treatment. At Family First Intervention, we are dedicated to assisting families as they end toxic relationships and start down the road of recovery.
One of our experienced, professional interventionists can travel to your home, educate your family on the dangers of enabling behaviors and develop a plan to get your loved one into treatment.
Stop Enabling and Start Helping Your Loved One Start A New Life