It is human nature for us to care about our family members or friends and to attempt to prevent them from feeling pain. This is a great quality that we possess, but it is not helpful when we are dealing with an individual that has an addiction to drugs or alcohol. It actually helps the addicted person maintain their destructive behaviors.
Preventing a person from feeling the negative consequences of their actions is called enabling. Enabling can take many forms; here are just a few examples:
- Making excuses to explain the addicted person’s behavior.
- Giving the addicted person money or buying them alcohol/drugs.
- Changing your schedule to work around the addicted person’s using.
- Allowing the addicted person to violate personal boundaries.
- Telling employers that the addicted person is unable to come to work due to being “sick”.
Family members and friends must become aware of how each has enabled the chemically dependent person and contributed to the family’s problems by accommodating use-related behaviors.
It is easy to blame the person drinking/using for all the problems, but the entire circle of family/friends may need to make changes as well.