Family members often come to me in so much pain, worried about their loved ones. Below are some questions to help you determine if you might actually be enabling their behavior.
What is Addiction?
First, lets define Addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a primary, chronic, neurobiologic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.
Addiction is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following:
Continued use despite harm
To find a MD who specialists in addiction, please, go to American Society of Addiction Medicine:
For the purpose of this document, I would like to apply this definition to the following behaviors: drugs, alcohol, food, sugar, sex, work, gambling, internet porn, video gaming, working out, the alcoholic, the drug addict, social media, steroid creams, etc. etc. You could go on and on. Addiction shows up in many areas, even those you have not thought of.
Am I Enabling My Loved One?
Here are some signs of enabling
- Do you think you can fix them
- Do you consider this a disease or just a state of mind, problem or bad habit.
- ”Do you feel you can somehow "control" their drinking?
- Do you hear yourself saying; “he’s just depressed, not an alcoholic. That is why he is drinking.
- Do you ignore that your loved one is in danger because of their addiction?
- Emotional Roller Coast
- Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around the addict?
- Are you afraid to show your true feelings around the addict?
- Do you find yourself lying to protect the truth from the addict because he/she may relapse? Or do you omit the truth to protect the addict?
- Do you find yourself putting the addicts needs before your own?
- Do you feel desperate about fixing him or her?
- Do you say to yourself, it’s better than nothing...
- Living in Fear
- Are you really afraid that your loved one is going to die?
- Are you afraid he/she is choosing you over the addiction?
- Do you find yourself making unwise decisions out of fear.
- Do you find yourself borrowing money (second mortgage, loans from family or friends, etc.) to pay for another rehab?
- Are you financially supporting the addict even when they are active in their addiction?
- Are you going into to debt just to keep him/her happy?
- Guilt and Shame
- Are you constantly complaining about their behaviors? And scolding them?
- Do you feel it is somehow your fault.
- Do you blame everyone else but them for their behaviors? Do you think you somehow caused the addiction
- Are you angry or crying all of the time?
- Are you bringing up the past constantly?
- Appointments with health care professionals
- Do you find yourself on the phone finding rehabs, therapists, doctors, etc.
- Are you making appointments for them? Attending the appointments
- Do you find yourself overcompensating by seeking several opinions, never really following one set treatment plan
Do you believe it is possible for you or others to cure the addiction?
These are very hard questions to ask ourselves. The less we enable our loved ones, hopefully, the quicker they will find recovery.Yet, there are times we have to get involved to prevent something from happening to them. This is why this is very tricky. Am I enabling or Am I helping? .........Written by Deborah Powers, MA, LMFT