Recovery Road

For Families

There are many people who suffer from addictions, and in some cases their loved ones actually enable the addiction because they want to help. It is understandable to want to help the one you love to overcome addiction, but you definitely do not want to do things that will actually enable their addiction to get worse.

Take a minute to think about your loved one that has alcohol or drug problems. He/she intends to continue using drugs or alcohol no matter what. So from their point of view they may be thinking, “Why not go ahead and get someone to help me with my addiction”? Without someone to enable him/her, the person who actually has the drug or alcohol problem would need to start dealing with all the consequences that his/her actions cause, which could actually make them begin to look at their addiction and consider making some changes that may lead them to recovery. Unfortunately many well-intentioned family members actually help to protect their loved one from the problems that their drug and alcohol use cause them. Doing this is called ENABLING.

In some cases family members will actually help their loved one to get their drugs or alcohol in a safe manner to try to protect them or they will allow them to use drugs and alcohol around them to try to keep them safe. They are afraid that they will get hurt or that they will go into withdrawal so they go on to help their loved one keep using, which does not fix the problem at all.

Some of the actions that may signal you are acting as an enabler include making excuses, lying, and helping your loved one to get what they need. This means you are no longer helping them, you are enabling them to continue in their addiction and are actually helping them to stay sick or to get even sicker with their disease of addiction.

Usually this type of behavior starts out slowly over time and in the beginning it is just behavior that is used to help smooth things over. People want to keep their family problems a secret so they keep their mouth shut. Also, many times denial of the problem actually affects the family members and they rationalize things away to try and avoid dealing with the problem that is occurring. Sadly, the problem will not just go away.

Once a person starts enabling the substance abuser, it turns into a repetitive cycle of behavior. The person who is addicted never has to deal with consequences, and so they continue in their addictive behavior. Since their addiction becomes even worse, then the enabler gets drawn deeper and deeper into the problem. Soon this turns into more chaos in the home, which the substance abuser will use for an excuse to continue using.

So, how can you get this cycle to end?

Well, while the person who is enabling the situation may be fearful and full of shame, at some point this will probably turn into anger. While they may try to bottle it all up, at some point it is going to come out in an explosion. They will be sick of excuses and may decide to lovingly detach themselves from the situation rather than to continue being part of the problem.

When family members stop trying to take care of the problems caused by the substance abuser or alcoholics substance use, suddenly the substance abuser or alcoholic has to deal with the consequences of their addiction. In some cases this may actually lead them to consider getting treatment for their addiction. Usually people who go for treatment either get tired of the addiction or they end up experiencing a dramatic crisis that leads them to seek out treatment for the problem. It is important that you never protect a loved one from this type of crisis because you may be keeping them from finally seeking out the treatment that they need for their addiction problem.

Treatment Services Available:
  • Drug & Alcohol Abuse Evaluations
  • Individual Counseling
  • DUI Services
  • Drug Screens
  • Education
  • Family Intervention & Consultation
  • EMDR
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Evidence-Based Trauma Counseling