By: Bethany Winkel
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Are You Helping or Hurting Your Addicted Loved One?
When you have a loved one who is hurting, you want to help them. When you have a loved one who has a problem that could get them in trouble or cause embarrassment, you want to help them avoid those consequences. People who have a family member or close friend that struggles with drug or alcohol addiction often do what they feel is helping the person, but their actions might actually be hurting.
Are you helping or hurting your addicted loved one? There is one question that can help you find out. Ask yourself if your actions are allowing your loved one to stay in their addiction. If the answer is yes, you could be hurting your loved one, despite your best intentions.
If, by your actions, you are taking away the natural consequences of a person’s addiction, you are allowing that person to continue in the addiction. For example, if your loved one has stayed out drinking all night again and is too drunk or hung-over to go to work, and you call in and make an excuse to the boss, you are enabling your loved one to do that again and again. If you give your family member money to cover rent because they’ve spent it all on drugs again, you are enabling them to buy more drugs, knowing you’ll help them next time too.
Enabling tells the addict that recovery from their addiction is not as important as keeping their life together or avoiding embarrassment. It sends the message that you are more concerned with their reputation or trying to keep a sense of normalcy than doing whatever it takes to get them the help they need.
There is a fine line between helping someone and enabling them to remain in their addiction, but it is important for the person’s long term wellbeing that loved ones do all they can to help them find and accept help.
To learn how to interact with your loved one in a way that will help them, visit NIDA’s website.