We all want to help a family member or friend who has become addicted to alcohol or drugs. It is how we help them that determine if we are guiding them in the right direction. And, what do we do when they refuse genuine help?

As a family member or friend, are you helping or enabling the addiction of your loved one? Do you know the difference between helping and enabling? Ask yourself, am I doing things that guide and even nudge the person toward recovery?

Helping versus enabling

Let’s discuss helping versus enabling and which is which. Then if you discover you are facilitating your loved one, we will give you some tips on how to stop sanctioning and begin helping.

The easiest way to understand helping and enabling is this:

Doing things for the addict they could and would normally do for themselves when sober is assisting.

Doing things for the addict they could or wouldn’t do for themselves even when sober is

helping.

Examples of enabling are:

  • Making excuses
  • Taking care of their responsibilities
  • Protecting them from legal or financial consequences
  • Paying their bills, so they do not have utilities shut off or lose their home or car

Those are examples of enabling. The more you enable your family member or friend, the longer it will take them to admit that there is a problem. It will also wear on you physically and mentally to the point of losing your self-respect and the addict losing respect for you as well. It will strain the relationship with your loved one as you continue to feel that you are being used or that they are sucking the life from you.

You will begin to see them as selfish and uncaring, at which point, you may start to think of cutting them from your life until they sober up.

Tips to stop enabling and start helping

The best way you can help them is to discuss with them when they are sober, the changes you are making because you love them. These changes include:

  • Set boundaries such as you will no longer give them money
  • Discuss recovery when they are sober
  • Have information on hand about a recovery center they could go to
  • Allowing the law to do its job
  • You will not be making excuses for their behavior anymore
  • Work with a counselor or group like Al-anon meetings for family members of alcoholics

What you should not do is:

    • Argue with the addict
    • Rescue
    • Loan money
    • Buy alcohol or drugs
    • Attack them in anger over their addiction
    • Do not give up keep discussing recovery with them when they are sober let them know that they have your support during recovery

449 Recovery offers a monitored detox program and therapies for both alcohol and substance addiction. Call us today (855) 435-7449 to learn more about our recovery center. Our goal is to help each patient achieve and maintain recovery by learning the skills they need to reduce the risk of relapse.