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How To Stop Enabling A Drug-Addicted Loved One

We won’t all come to realize how we handicap the ones we love. The ways in which we contribute to situations that are already bad may be hard to see when all we want is the best for those we care for. It is tough, therefore, to accept that something that we see as helpful can be very harmful for those who struggle with drug addiction.

Those we love who are held captive by drugs have the unfortunate detriment of existing but not quite living; this meaning that the brain is addled by drugs in such a way that life—and the many important decisions we make to keep it together—is mishandled and oftentimes left to chance. The dangers that often accompany a drug addiction stem from the many bad choices that someone with the disease will make.

There are many instances that come to mind when we think of how we can help a loved one in their struggle with drugs. Though the problems are evident, not all of us differentiate between the good help we can provide and the bad help that only perpetuates the problems associated with addiction.

Knowing The Struggle

It is wise to realize and accept that your loved one now has quite a few shortcomings in life. Those may be some of the following, though the list is often longer:

  • Lack of responsibility
  • Legal troubles
  • Broken relationships
  • Unemployment
  • Debt
  • Aggression and anger
  • Denial
  • Lack of motivation

In many of these situations, what ends up occurring is similar to what occurs in other families or relationships. As your loved one slips into a place where nothing seems to be going as per planned and they begin to care less for life and more for their powerful addiction, you will feel yourself wanting to bail them out in a variety of ways.

It may come to your mind that your loved one has some debts that need to be paid. You want those debts to be gone so that they have one less thing to worry about with all that is happening. You may also feel a tug at your heartstrings when they can’t pay their rent anymore. You’d rather pay their rent than have them on the streets, right? And of course, you can’t let them starve after they lose their job…

The story is an old one and one that many people go through every day. None of us want to see the people we love struggling, especially not in so many very awful ways. And though it may appear to be the right thing to do to help out in all of these different ways, sometimes those bail outs are not love. Sometimes those bail outs push our loved one into a greater dependence on us and others and make it more and more difficult to stop using drugs and seek help.

When we give so much, our loved ones don’t mean to take as much as they do, but in such a vulnerable state, they end up needing us and unable to help themselves. When all is said and done, we have handicapped rather than helped our loved ones. This sad conclusion is something that many people never reach. They continue for years, decades, even, to give their drug-addicted loved one precisely what they need in order to keep them out of trouble. But what they really need is to get help, seek treatment, and fix their own lives.

Enabling 101

Your plate may seem rather full with all that is going on in such a difficult time. The stress and worry are enough, so helping out and making sure the problem doesn’t persist is for the best, right? WRONG. When you enable your loved one, it plays out something like this:

Beth is being tugged in the wrong direction and you know why. She can’t shake her habits anymore and it’s showing, though she denies it to you and your mother. Many times she borrows money for rent and explains the various banking issues that make the loans seem harmless. Then her landlord bumps up the rent and she decides she won’t pay the increase. Naturally you’re the first person who hears about her problem. You offer your spare bedroom to her.

Things are going to be great with Beth at your house until you realize she is always late to work and gets a slew of collections calls to your house. Maybe it would be better if you paid any debts off for her so she can get back on her feet, you think. But when all is paid, more calls come in. She’s lost her job and she owes on her apartment, since she broke the lease. The rent was never increased. Every day you see that Beth is struggling more and more. She can’t find work, she can’t get a decent place to rent. She’ll move out soon, she says. You lend her money, she pays bills and legal fees, but she always needs more.

Enabling someone is often its own drug. While many of us feel the need to nurture and care for those we love, independence is often the only way to mend oneself. Reliance, codependency, and coddling can all make for more difficulties when recovery from drug addiction needs to be taken seriously.

Finding Solutions

Financial: Instead of focusing on getting your loved one’s bills paid, go to the bank and figure out payment plans that suit her needs. Put a limit on how long she can stay at your house and make sure her next move is into rehab or sober living.

Legal: Instead of hoping that the legal trouble will be settled with a fine that you can pay, remember that certain punishments do influence people to make better decisions in the future. Would court-ordered rehab be of a benefit to your loved one?

Work: Instead of putting your neck on the line and getting your loved one a job where you work of with someone you know, try pushing for a bigger change. Relocation with an out-of-state job nearby an outpatient rehab could be the change she needs to turn her life around.

Relationships: Families will need to come back together on their own and everyone’s healing time is different. Instead of forcing the bridges to be rebuilt, recommend family therapy or marriage counseling. Hearing what others are feeling can help her be a better loved one.

Responsibility: Life passes many people by when they are hung up on drugs. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other helpful guidance courses for healthy lifestyles can get your loved one back on track. Make her do her own laundry!

Help Is Number One

Contact for more information on finding the best treatment for your loved one.At the end of the day, the very best thing you can do for your loved one is help her get the treatment she needs. If drugs has negatively affected her life in such a way that she has become in some way dependent on you or others, she needs a major change and rehabilitation. Before you begin to dig her out, let her seek treatment where she will be given the tools to dig herself out. Contact for more information on finding the best treatment for your loved one.