Many times when family and friends try to "help" addicts, they are actually making it easier for them to continue in the progression of the disease.
This baffling phenomenon is called enabling, which takes many forms, all of which have the same effect -- allowing the addict to avoid the consequences of his actions. This in turn allows the addict to continue merrily along his (or her) way, secure in the knowledge that no matter how much he screws up, somebody will always be there to rescue him from his mistakes.
What is the difference between helping and enabling? There are many opinions and viewpoints on this.
Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling is doing for someone things that they could, and should be doing themselves.
Simply, enabling creates a atmosphere in which the addict can comfortably continue his unacceptable behavior.
I don't understand the dynamics of the situation you are in. In a generic sense, the best way to not enable is to not be there for anything but moral support and only if the addict is getting help. Letting the addict know that they have a support system as long as they are trying is a big deal, but you have to look out for manipulation. Addicts manipulate enablers.... they keep trying until they get what they want. The key.... don't give in to what they want.
If you are in a cohabitation situation with the addict who is affecting your life, doing what you can to remove yourself physically from the situation is essential. A sit down talk will clarify the situation to the addict.
Get all of the stuff you need, all valuables packed and be ready to leave. No looking back and you'll need a bit of support yourself that does not include the addict. You cannot rely on him/her for support. What you need from them is progress in the battle against the addiction. If they don't show that, you offer them nothing. Remain anonymous and in hiding if at all possible. Restraining orders might be necessary and getting the law involved might be necessary. Until the addict wants help, it isn't going to happen. An addict has to find bottom and the bottom is different for everyone.
"I care too much to watch you ruin your life with this addiction. I've asked you to get help and I've tried to help in my own ways. None of it is working and I am not going to sit here and watch this train wreck." You tell the person that you loved who they were and hate who they've become and that you are done. Walk away......
As long as there is one enabler, the addict will put a strangle hole on that enabler. They "need" that person now and will do everything to put this person in an emotional hurricane. The addict will play on every emotion out there. This is a primal instinct.... it is about survival and it is about getting the chemicals....
Best way to stop enabling? Don't be there for them anymore. Literally! Do not be there any more.
Enabling or even being labeled as an "enabler" must be a horrible position to find yourself in. While you care about the addict, you don't know what avenues to take to "help".
Truth be told, from my experiences, each addiction is different. Yeah, statistics say certain things happen at certain times, when people are addicted. But not all of those things happen to all addicts. Every addict is a different person, and we cannot forget that. Every addict that wants to try a recovery has to hit bottom, and that bottom is different for every addict! The bottom more or less looks the same, but individual addicts find the bottom at different times. Some find it within weeks of recognizing an addiction where some find it decades later.....
I've never seen an addict move along "merrily" but perhaps that is your perception. Myself and most of the addicts I have known are struggling at all times. Both while addicted and while going through recovery, there is a constant fight going on and so many of the adversaries are unknown. And addict has to figure out who or what they are fighting.
I'll never be able to portray the addicts mind to you. I wish I could, and I'll continue to try.... until you've been there, you cannot say you understand. That's why recovered addicts make good rehab counselors... they know! They've lived the thing..
"i've never seen an addict move along "merrily" but perhaps that is your perception"
you want to tell me HOW you came to this mighty observation?
there are several ppl, on this forum right now, that are helping their loved ones continue the downward spiral. i start a post about enabling...hoping that they can see what they are doing...and you come at me with "i've never seen an addict move along merrily but perhaps that is your perception?
you don't know me AT ALL. you have no idea that MY main focus is RECOVERY...that addiction is a lifetime disease that can rear it's ugly head at any given moment.
i don't need you to portray the addicts mind to me...but thank you very much.
Brice, you sure made my situation clear. I do have to leave. Its hard to when you love that person dearly. But when I catch her in a situation, she denies it all. I just wish leaving was that easy. I left aa year ago to get myself fix to help her. She relapsed twice behind my back. Like a fool I moved back in 3 months ago and she has been using since...grrr... I DO need to leave and not look back. :(
A talk would have done something if there would have been some follow through. If your enabler told you, "I've had it, I can't watch you do this and I am leaving" it is a million times better than sitting there enabling. Every single intervention is based on this premise.
LIZZIE.... how is an addict moving along merrily? (That is your perception.) The addict is falling deeper and deeper, and I for one knew that. My mind hurt, my body hurt, my teeth and hair hurt. I knew that and there was nothing merry about that. If I'd get a fix, my thoughts would race between feeling a bit of relief and fearing the next jones. Along with that I started planning how I would get my next fix. Then, I would think of the people I was affecting... they were there always, and I'd use to push them to the back of my mind until I needed them again.
There's nothing merry about that.... you are allowed to feel the way you do. I am telling you from an addicts stand point.... not a whole bunch of merry anywhere in an addicts life.
Absolutely it is hard to leave. You want the best for this person and you want to help. You want to help them find help. You want them healthy and you know that on a level they want to be healthy too. You want THAT for them.
The addict doesn't see it that way. With an addict, you are either with them or against them. You are either "aiding and abetting" or "hindering" them. The person you knew back in the day isn't there now.... a portion of them still exists, but until they hit bottom and want to do the work necessary, they won't go into recovery. Recovery is hard!!!! An addict doesn't want to work, they want to exist.
Addicts lie. Not only do they lie, they even begin to believe their lies.
Diamond, you're not a fool. You love this person and you are a compassionate person. Addicts know this or learn this and they "know" what they can get away with.
If there is hope for this addict, you leaving might be the bottom for them. It might not.... there's no guarantees, but you need to remember something that is very important. Your life has value and you deserve to call the shots in your life. Trying to right an addict, you call no shots. You live to care for this person.... that's not your calling in life.
Have you ever watched the show "Intervention"? It is all about what we are talking about here. The family and friends get together with a therapist and let that person know every one of their stories on how the addict has affected them and what kind of person the addict used to be. After the therapist knows the story and understands the gravity of the situation, they "trick" the addict to walk into an intervention. For the majority of addicts, this makes them find bottom... its because they can see what they are doing to everyone around them. (Granted, some never see it and that is awful.) Those who do get it go to rehab. Sometimes rehab takes a few times to "catch" but some are done with one shot.
Telling an addict what they've done to "your" relationship is hard for the one telling the story. The addict plays it off like its no big deal or, it starts to sink in. When you tell an addict that "you've done what you can and can no longer support them" and walk away... they either get it or not. But if you say you are leaving... you have to leave. This person has seen you leave, only to come back. They assume that you'll be back. In fact, they count on it. Very often, when you quit taking their calls, file a restraining order on them and they get arrested on it and they realize you mean business... they are either going to go to work or fall back. Neither is your concern, even the recovery until they have some time under their belt. Then and only then can you crack the door open. You never let your guard down.
In case you couldn't filter it out in the above text, I came to that observation by having been an addict. I came to that observation by having been an addict and watching other addicts self destruct... that's how.
Maybe what you see as "merrily going on their way" is the drug. It's the fix. It's when that addict can relax. Its the rush.... and it begins to fade sometimes seconds after they get that rush.
Think of the drug of choice being "termites". They/It eat away at the core. The outside looks mostly fine, but the inside is getting chewed up. (Friends and families, the termites get to them both on the outside and the inside... problem is, there is no medicine until they get themselves help.)
Addiction ruins so many families, but recoveries are more prevalent today than ever before. There is no winning in a relationship where an addict is involved. It takes its toll on so many levels. it affects other relationships. It does indeed destroy families.....
I am so sorry that you had to go through what you had to go through.
i'm afraid that those were your words to me...that it was "my" perception that the addict just moves along merrily. no where in any of my posts / comments have i indicated or spoke of such nonsense.
if you would like to present a rebuttal, excuse, or justification to something that i've said, so be it...just don't create things. i say how i feel...you don't have to try and read between the lines. i'm as honest as honest comes.
this forum was created for those of us who are living, or have lived this nightmare...from OUR side. it was created so that WE didn't have to bother you with our mindless thoughts and endless questions regarding addiction and the addicts we love. (remember, we know nothing about addiction, HA !) are you on THIS forum...the "living with an addict forum" for support?
as the loved one of an addict our "help" starts out very innocently. most times we arent aware of the gravity of the "situation" ( the addiction). a missed bill being paid, a traffic violation, a shortfall in the pay, a little bit too much money used, so we "help" out. once this happens too many times, our antenna goes up. we then are more aware of the addiction, and how it has progressed. then comes the continuing lies, deceit, manipulation. as it progresses further, the stealing incurs. then our attempts to talk about the situation (addiction), to try and reason with them, to try to "help" them has now become enabling.
at this point we have been sucked into and have now been living in their addiction. it becomes a very vicious,sick,debilitating cycle.
we have to decide, yes it is a choice, just as their using is, that we have had enough, that we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. sometimes this takes many years. as in my case, 16 years. also it depends on who the addict in your life is. if it is a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, a distant relative each and every addict in our life effects our life in a different way.
when my husband was in active addiction, i couldnt leave with my 4 children, i had no where to go, he was the bread winner,the father of my children, i didnt want to disrupt my home, my children from their school and friends, didnt want to make it public.he wouldnt leave, so we endured.
the beginning of their addiction is usually somewhat in control and doesnt affect us as severely as when they have "lost control" of their addiction. when things really spiral.
my 2 children who are addicts had a different effect on me, they are my blood, my offspring,my babies, i felt i could save them and felt it was my responsibility too. we want them to success, to be happy, to be well adjusted adults. yes if we could only love our addicts out of addiction.my children would never have become addicts, my love was too great.
do we choose to be the spouse of an addict? the parent of an addict?
of course not, but we can choose not to enable or to support their addiction. we have to choose to support their recovery, did this take me many,many, too many years to learn? yes it did.
we have to cut off their financial support, the insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. we have to detach from them emotionally with love.
we have to choose our sanity, we have to live despite them destroying themselves.
i did eventually kick my husband,son and daughter out of the house. i wasnt leaving they were. did it hurt? like hell, did i feel empowered?
yes it did. i was finally taking control.
i cut off all financial support. when i cleaned out the bank account , my husband called me, screaming,cursing, threatening. i had taken all means of him getting drugs. i then paid one night for a hotel and you know what the next day he said, enough is enough and went into a rehab. he has now been clean for 2 1/2 years.
i kicked my son out and a very short time later, he got clean, has been for 3 years.
my daughter is still struggling, but you know what? there is always hope.
am i a much happier person now? absolutely i am in recovery, i am no longer physically,emotionally and mentally sick. i am taking care of me and i am damn proud. i am no longer living in their addictions. we are healing as a family, my children, i have 4 are recovering, my marriage is healing.
it is a process. recovery for both the addict and the loved ones, the journey starts by faith, and it is one step at a time, one day at a time.
for today i will not be an enabler.
It simply amazes me. We all live the same movie with different casts. We all have simular problems. I relate to everything you folks say. Atthebeach, you nailled it right on the head on my case. Right to a tee. And Brice, I truly appreciate your words. It sure makes me see so much light. Hopefully this time next week I will be able to say I broke free from living as an enabler and looking inside from out. However she said if I leave again she will not want to ever see me again. Kinda hurts. I usually break down crying. But now I must follow through and perhaps her rock bottom has been reached and she seeks help.
You did clearly say in the second paragraph of your initial post that, because of enabling, the addict "to continue merrily along their way." That is indeed what you said and it is your perception of what happens with addicts. It's okay.... you can feel that way.
I didn't "create" what you said Lizzie... go read the 2nd paragraph of your initial post. I couldn't edit that, right?
"for someone, who is following so closely behind every word i say, you should have been able to realize that that post was not my style of writing. it was a copy and paste...i forgot the quotation marks."
you are correct...if that was my perception...it is TOTALLY ok for me to feel that way.
Back to the topic. Ok, we are enablers without knowing. When we realize we are enabling an addict, we help the addict. They get professional help, councilling and lots of clean time in. Everything in life "appears" great. Safety nets all in place and lots of good quality time. Then, for some unseen reason, you find yourself enambling again. Why would your loved one fall off the wagon and not ask for help? Even obviosuly falling $4000 behind in rent? Did they think that would go unnoticed? Why would that person risk losing everythhing?
Your loved one (the addict) would not ask for help for a few reasons but the first one that comes to mind is the thought of "letting you down". The addict feels as if they let you down.
That in turn starts the addicts cycle. The start feeling down on themselves and then its time to medicate. As for falling $4000 behind in rent.... they don't care. They are assuming that the enabler in you will do what you've done time and time again. (Come to their rescue) And if you decide to not enable them, then they have another excuse to use.
When an addict tries to blame someone else for their problems, it is commonly called "deflection". If they can blame someone else for their problems, they don't have anything to address.... see what I am getting at?
Why would they risk losing everything? The addiction turns off part of the mind. Things that may seem obvious to you and I are the things that are furthest from an addicts mind..... They've done studies on addicts brains, scans of their brains, and have found that parts of their brains do not function.... With the right care, therapy, and sobriety... those parts on the brain can mostly start to operate, but we know what chronic alcohol or drug abuse does. It kills brain cells....
Wow what a great and informational discussion. I believe that enabling is bad for the addict and bad for the the person enabling. I recenty realised this and am no longer enabling my spouse and have cut all contact from her except a phone call once a week to check how she is doing. Ofcourse it is hard but it is what needed to be done.
Thank you, Brice, once again. I get it now. I got the whole picture. It truly all makes sense.
And yes Joe it is hard. I'm suppose to marry may fiancee this month but had to call it off. Now my next step is to try and move out. Its heart-wrenching though I tell ya! :(
It is harder for me, because I have to ask her to leave. She had expressed disinterest in living where we live so many times. She wouldn't mind living in her car if it will make her afford her "fix." I think she is addicted to the depression, even welcomes it.
My husband's an enabler. I hate to say it, but it's true. I believe he attaches a stigma to addiction and, in doing so, downplays mine in an effort to ignore that I have one. I asked about going to rehab (which we have coverage for) and he said no because it would look bad on the insurance claim.
The times I have come to him to discuss my addiction and a strategy for getting clean, he's made excuses FOR me. Told me it's not that bad, that I take them for pain. The times I have asked him to hold my pills, he has given them as soon as I said I needed one.
I take full responsibility for my addiction and for the position I have put him in. It breaks my heart because I know he only wants to see me happy and he doesn't really know what to do with all of this. I know he's trying and I know that, if it weren't for me, he wouldn't have to.
From all of the studying I've done on this subject, enabling for a lot of enablers becomes an "addiction". Because of their love for the addict, because they so much want to help, because the relationship has ended up with so much co-dependency.... each person in the relationship kind of "NEEDS" each other. The urge to help is giant.... we as enablers just "know" that we can make our addict better. We try, try, try, and try some more. We just know that we will make the difference, but it doesn't happen. The horrible loop keeps replaying itself again and again.
I think what you're doing with the one call a week as a check in is fine and all that is required. Absolutely it is hard! (That's part of the enabler being an "addict".) There's a thin line between being an enabler and helping for almost everybody. There is so much pain and hurt involved. We have watched or are watching a loved one spin out of control and we realize that there is nothing we can do.... it is a miserable feeling.
It's hard to say that there is a reward for an enabler who decides that he/she no longer wants to be part of the problem. There is though, and it's our sanity. It takes a while to realize it, but that is the reward. It is our time to get our life back.
Jeannine, I wish my fiancee had your mindset. I'd have her in detox again. But it is all in the attitude of the addict on whether they want to be clean or not. You seem to have done it for yourself. That's great to hear!
(I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say this, but it was brought to my attention a while back at a therapy session.) We as humans are a weird species.... LOL Probably not the right way to start this off. I'll try again. We have the perpensity to compare our situations. "Yeah, but mines different because of......"
That's not necessarily fair for anyone else in the group for a few reasons. First off, I'm not you-you're not me... we all have different levels of tolerance and fortitude. In other words, what might be an earth shattering occurrence to me might not be that big of a deal to someone else.
(For instance. I was in the hospitality industry for almost 20 years. One night we had a good sized brawl at the front door. One of the female patrons said that it was "the most violent thing she ever saw!!!!) It was the furthest thing from the most violent thing I've ever seen. I do this for a living. It's about perception and individuality.) I shouldn't be able to say that I had it harder than you did, or that you had it easier than I did. I'm not you, you're not me. There's no comparison in addiction. Some people handle situations better.... some have a harder time.... it's all okay. We are allowed to be individuals.
Comparing my own addictions.... my narcotic addiction was easy for me to quit. I had a close call using and that was my bottom. I dropped the habit like a hot rock. I knew it would kill me eventually so I was done. Of course I had withdrawls.... (beat the hell out of dying.) Currently, I am trying to quit nicotine. My narcotic addiction was easier to quit.
Somebody above mentioned depression as an addiction.... man! Mine sure was.
ok, i dont want to be an enabler anymore!!!! Please, someone tell me what to do because my emotions ALWAYS end up controlling my actions when it comes to this. I kicked out an alcholic ex boyfriend who i thought I was helping because he came to me over a year go & was literally homeless. Two weeks turned into almost 2 years and most of it has been really hard on me. I can deal with him when he is sober, but when he starts this binge drinking, things just get too crazy. So I got him out this past Saturday. I got my keys and everything. He told me he would get his stuff Monday. Well, that never happened. I just heard from him for the first time since Saturday and he tells me he has been staying in a hotel but is almost out of money. He says he is 'real bad' this time and hasn't eatten in 3 days. I didnt have much to say. I have done this with him sooooo many times before.... Then he asks if i would at least give him a blanket so he can go sleep in the woods. WTF. I just had to hang up the phone. He is just using me, right? I know my next step is to change my number, but i was holding off until he got his stuff out. I dont know why my question is, but i just needed to vent. I really want to move on from this. And I am doing it. But I dont know why i need so much reassurance that i am still doing the best thing. I am so insecure when it comes to this ****.
As long as you have his stuff at your place you are still attached. He knows exactly what he is doing. He figures you will fold like a cheap tent and let him back in. You are not his babysitter. Find out the laws in your state about getting his belongings out.
I'm with both domino and Diamond on this. He is trying to manipulate you and he fully expects you to allow him back into your home and life. There are a set of things that need to happen to get you out of this pinch and I don't really know if there is a correct order.
Pack his stuff. (He said he'd be there Monday and was not. That is a broken deal, and just one of many I'd assume.) Put his stuff outside. Make contact and tell him his stuff is outside and he needs to remove it at once, otherwise the garbage delivery will pick it up. Tell him that you've done all you can and you're done being used. (I don't know how you feel about this, but maybe you'd like to report this to law enforcement just in case it gets weird.)
If you wanted to be a true humanitarian, look up a shelter or two that he could go too and give him those addresses on a piece of paper on top of his belongings.
You owe him nothing else.... remember that. His using you is using up your strength and you deserve to have a life that is free of this guys drama.
Been there by choice, and now free by choice. Coming from both sides (alcoholic and then
sober but in a relationship w/an alcoholic) I have no sympathy on anyone who chooses to begin and end their disease, especially when that "disease" that is under their control to stop harms others, esp. their own children. In a world where cancer is running rampant, dementia is stealing people's memories and hard-earned lives, and MS is rendering so many unable to walk or even get out of bed (not to mention the slew of other real diseases-you know, the ones that befall people for no reason with no way out but death in the end which they can't choose), I find it ridiculous to even entertain such a victimizing, morbid entertainer as something as powerless to fight as a disease. I used to use that as my excuse to keep drinking & hurting others. Personally, I have endured many hardships in my life many of which were displayed in mass public because my family and I are well known, and I chose to drink my problems away. I'd escape in a bottle(Bacardi 151 was my fave). . .and then, I finally decided to stop being 'pity-full" and chose to stop drinking and start facing the hurt that I allowed to be my excuse to check out on life, and Alcoholism runs on both sides of my family too(genetic predisposition to coping poorly-my other insurmountable excuse. Ya can't fight the way you were born). Truth is, you can do whatever you like, even if that is choosing to drink. It is your/our choice. I know many who feel just as I do now, but we are shut up and shut out because making quitting as simple as a commitment to a firm decision takes money away from institutions that deal with addictions. Still, I always want to drink, but being a good parent here in 2013 means more to me than staying a hurting child from 30 yrs ago. All in all, we do what we choose, but that is NOT just alcoholics, that is ALL people in life. All people want to just check out, esp during this recession, but there are things more important to them than just what they want. If we keep it real, the only real difference between an alcoholic/addict and the "others" is that the others choose daily to accept the cards they have been dealt,and end the pity-party in a reasonable and timely fashion for fear of becoming the pain & problem to others (they resist regression into utter selfishness) that they resented when they were victimized by others. We cannot be victims forever. Addicts are of all people most miserable merely because of an innate choice to be self-centered and selfish (the reasons why which usually stem from childhood really are irrelevant once we began hurting others just as we were hurt by others- that is hypocritical of us and we despise hypocrites), and the ability to choose otherwise is personified in that we maintain the ability to CHOOSE to quit all the while. Go ask a woman dying of breast cancer or a man losing his mind to dementia, or a younger person losing bodily function via MS what all that they wouldn't give up to have all of the opportunities to choose to live that the alcoholic/addict takes for granted every day they abuse themselves and their loved ones. What those poor diseased people wouldn't give for just one more day to love their loved ones while the addict ditches and manipulated those who love us for a quick thrill or escape. I had to face that truth, instead of using it as an excuse to keep drinking. Truth hurts, but it makes it no less true, and the truth no matter how hard it hurts is never an excuse to drink, period.
So lets see it as it really is and lets finally cope with what caused us to give up everything before we lose even more and cause others who really love us to lose too . . . And unlike in our painful childhoods and riddled youths, this time when we lose as adults, we can't blame anyone but ourselves. Yes at least this time we have the control, but at what cost? At the cost of becoming who/what we feared? Yep.Been there done that.
Lastly, It ain't easy, but that is life for everyone who breathes (rough and riddled with pain).There are test that come in life that we must pass. In my adult life I have experienced in the course of a 5 yr span, a rape from which I became physically disabled and pregnant, poverty, and then loving an alcoholic while sober, becoming pregnant by him and then finding out that my ex-fiancee was molesting my 5 yr old son and giving him cocaine during it all while I was in & out of the hospital for medical reasons due to pregnancy (most vulnerable), and he was molesting our infant daughter too. Just found it all out now, BUT I HAVE RESISTED THE URGE TO DRINK OVER IT! Why? Because my kids need me, I am all they have, and because I refuse to be bound ever again. It is not what happens to us, but rather how we choose to respond to it that determines who we really are. FINALLY I AM PASSING THIS TEST. I am taking advantage of my right to choose life instead of choosing to take advantage of others to get what I want and need. What I want & need is to love and support my loved ones instead of only wanting and needing to be loved & supported by others at all costs.This time in life you have a choice too! A choice to be free, a choice to be healthy, a choice to be happy. . .the choice to be whole. Be encourage and empowered to choose a good life now!
OMG the lies... so many lies. I don't even know what is the truth anymore. I don't know if he does either. I think I am wrong and falsely accusing all the time. But, at this point I think even buying groceries is enabling.
I am so glad this post was revisited and bumped up. A tremendous amount of change occured in my life since I last posted on this thread. Italiangirl, follow your heart even if you have to do it from a distance. That's what I'm doing and I feel a lot more healthy. :)
Detachment and self-preservation--extra locks on your doors and screw your windows shut----boundaries and a lot of support from others in the same boat----eventually you don't even cry anymore--start living your life and lock up anything valuable---
Look for you new silver lining and hope some day they may join you--if not, save yourself.
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