Addiction is a complex brain disease. It is not a choice. Nevertheless, this illness negatively impacts the lives of everyone who comes into contact with it. This is especially true for loved ones. In fact, experts agree that addiction is a family disease. When an individual gets hooked on drugs, her entire family unit gets sick.
A family driven by addiction is sure to become entangled in some enabling behavior. Enabling happens when a loved one takes any action that will prevent an addict from facing her own consequences.
This toxic behavior is detrimental to someone who has a substance use disorder. Addiction is a matter of life and death. When someone enables an addict, they unintentionally deprive them of pain that has the potential to motivate them to get into recovery. As long as an addicted person has someone cleaning up her messes, she will never feel motivated to get sober.
Are You Enabling an Addict?
If a woman in your life is addicted, we know you want to help. It is devastating to watch someone you love destroy herself in the name of one more fix. However; there is a fine line between helping and hurting when it comes to addiction. You may be coming from a loving place when you try to “help.” Unfortunately, though, your actions could have catastrophic results.
Not sure if you are an enabler? Here are six signs that you might be enabling the addicted woman in your life:
# 1 You Continue to Minimize or Deny the Addiction
First things first. Are you being honest with yourself about the severity of her substance use disorder? Addiction feeds on denial. There could be plenty of evidence that the woman you care about is in trouble, yet you continue to minimize or deny the seriousness of the situation.
Here are a few examples:
It’s not that bad.
Well, at least she isn’t shooting up.
She has things under control – after all, she has a great job.
This is just a phase.
She can quit anytime she wants to.
These are just a few of the many ways family members and friends minimize or deny the seriousness of addiction.
# 2 The Addicted Person is a Top Priority
Addicted women go from one crisis to the next. They live in a constant state of chaos and unmanageability. They lack the resources to put out their own fires, so they rely on friends and family members to bail them out time and time again.
Have you placed the wellbeing of the addict in your life above your own? Have you been putting her as a top priority, neglecting your many other responsibilities? Are you available 24-7 to help her battle the latest catastrophe she created? If so, you might be an enabler.
# 3 You Are Dishonest With Family Members
Having an addict in the family can feel shameful or embarrassing, because of the stigma surrounding it. It’s certainly not something you talk about at parties. Addiction is almost always shrouded in secrecy and accompanied by lies.
If you are telling your loved ones that “she is fine” or “doing great in school” when you know she is struggling with an addiction, this should be cause for concern. When you lie on behalf of an addict woman, you are enabling her. Instead of being dishonest, it would be wise to rally the family together to make a plan to help her get sober, as uncomfortable as it may be at first.
# 4 She Gets High in Your Home
If you allow the addicted woman in your life to use your home as a “safe place” to get high, you have become her enabler. You may think you are helping her avoid dangerous situations, but you are only helping her destroy her life. Your home is not a dope den. When you act like it is, you are sending a clear message that getting high is okay.
# 5 You are Paying Bills for an Adult Addict
Having a drug addiction is a costly endeavor. It doesn’t matter whether it’s heroin, crystal meth, prescription narcotics like Oxy, or even marijuana. Getting high on a regular basis will always break the bank. This doesn’t leave money left over to pay bills, buy food, or put gas in the car.
We have no doubt that your heart is in the right place. Surely you don’t want to see your daughter, sister, or aunt get evicted for nonpayment of rent. Or, maybe your good friend’s lights have been cut off and you don’t want her to be without electricity. You might want to fill up your wife’s gas tank. But, if you are playing banker for an addict, you are enabling her to continue getting high.
No matter the circumstances, you should not be paying for the consequences of an addict’s poor choices. When you do, you are just encouraging them to continue to spend their money on dope.
# 6 You Drive the Addict to Score Drugs
This should be an obvious one. But, it is not uncommon for loved ones to justify driving the addicted woman in their life to buy drugs. This seems to make sense – especially when she begs for a ride, throws a tantrum, or threatens suicide when she doesn’t get her way. However; you should never provide transportation for any woman to go get high.
To be sure, you are putting your safety and your very freedom in jeopardy when you participate in a drug deal. But, you are also giving a green light to the addicted woman in your life. You are communicating a message that says you support her habit and approve of her substance abuse.
Stop Enabling and Seek Help
Enabling the behavior of an addict does not result in her recovery. It only results in more addiction and greater consequences. She needs a healthy support system now more than ever. If you are enabling the addict in your life, you have become unhealthy for her.
Do you really want to make a positive change – one that encourages the addicted woman in your life to get help? If so, recovery starts with you. It is time to take responsibility for your active role in her cycle of addiction. This happens by getting honest with yourself, getting professional help through family therapy, and setting healthy boundaries. This is a step in the right direction – one that might motivate your loved one to go for addiction treatment.
Need someone to talk to? We are here to help. We know recovery.