Growing up, we’re taught that we should always be nice. After all, it is the polite thing to do. However, when you want to help someone you care about deal with their addiction, it goes way beyond just being nice. It takes creating healthy boundaries, getting out of your comfort zone, and saying no even when you don’t think you can. It means going against what we’ve learned is the right thing. It’s hard but it must be done if there is any chance to long-term recovery. In the spirit of Do Something Nice Day, we’re going over how putting an end to your enabling may be the nicest thing you can do to help your loved one.
Enabling vs. Helping
We saw this meme and we thought it pretty much hit the nail on the head. It said:
If an addict is happy with you, you’re probably enabling them. If an addict is mad at you, you’re probably trying to save their life.
Anyone who has been through this before knows that these words are true. Here is a better contrast:
Help (or helping) is to make it easier for (someone) to do something by offering one’s services or resources.
Enable (enabling) is to give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something.
If you are ready to make a positive change, here are a few ways that you can start helping your loved one and stop enabling them.
1. Stop the Financial Support
There have been plenty of times where your addicted loved one has come to you for financial support, and you knew it was because of their addiction. You don’t want to upset them, plus you want them to know you’re on their side. So, you give them money – constantly. If they know you will give them money, they will keep asking. If you continue providing financial support, you might as well start going with them to buy their drugs and alcohol for them.
“Continuing to give in to your loved one as a means to help them isn’t actually helping, it’s hurting them in the long run.”
2. Say No to Them
Saying “no” is another thing that you must do to put an end to enabling your addicted loved one. They’ll continue to come to you to give them rides, live in your home, and even ask you to lie for them. Continuing to give in to your loved one as a means to help them isn’t actually helping, it’s hurting them in the long run. You must learn to say no and realize it is best for their long-term benefit.
3. Allow Them to Take Responsibility
Taking action on both of the above will help your loved one to see the consequences of their addiction. This serves as a potential wake-up call for your loved one to realize they need help for their drug and/or alcohol abuse. Not letting them experience this will only continue to blind them from understanding the magnitude of their problem.
4. Stop Feeling Sorry for Them
Part of the reason why you’ve been enabling your addicted loved one is because you feel sorry for them. You obviously want to see them happy, so you’re willing to do anything necessary for them to be just that. Well, it’s important for you to stop feeling sorry for them if you want to end your enabling ways.
5. Prioritize Yourself
In conclusion, one of the best things you can do to stop enabling is to make your own life and health a priority. Do things that make you happy and write up a list of positive things you’ve always wanted to do…and do them all!