By Steps to Recovery on November 16, 2012
Being enabled is a key ingredient in an addicts active drug use. In an active addiction, a drug addict’s mindset is only concerned with one thing: the next high. Addicts have a full time job in finding weak links who do not have the ability to set boundaries and say no to them. Most normal people, when given an inch, will usually take a mile. An active substance abuser will not only take a mile, but more like 100 miles.
In most cases, it is only when a drug addict runs out of resources that they will begin to consider making changes in their life. If they constantly have someone enabling their addiction they do not see a reason to stop. By gaining the ability to say no to a loved one caught in the grips, you may be able to save their life.
The definition of enabling is to, “make possible,” in other words, by not saying no to an addicted person you are making their active using possible. In most cases, the biggest enabler in a young addicts life is a caring, and loving mother. It is not because they want to make their child’s addiction possible, it is because they do not know any better. Often, you will hear parents say, “At least if my child is doing it in my house, I know they are safe.” While this sounds good, the truth of the matter is there is no such thing as “safe using” for a drug addict no matter where it is done. Mothers usually have the best intention but in the long run this kind of behavior is extremely dangerous. An enabling loved one tends to be extremely co-dependent and loses control of their own lives because they are so pre-occupied with taking care of the addict.
In order to stop enabling, loved ones must take a tough love approach. This can be extremely difficult for parents, wives, husbands, and even children of adult addicts, who can be enablers. Drug addicts have “survival kits” in order to keep using. Obviously, this is not for all drug addicts, it is based on most situations. A survival kit, many times, includes a person or group of people who are willing to enable their behaviors. The tough love approach starts with one very simple phrase: “NO!”
Addicts in active addiction will manipulate you in every possible way in order to be told yes, by just telling them no you have now drawn a boundary. A boundary that they are not used to hearing. At first, this will be very difficult; just as they are not used to be told no, you are not used to saying it either. At first it may be heartbreaking, but it is very important to understand that a simple no may be the life saving phrase for your loved ones. Now you are there to help them recover, rather than help them kill themselves. In the end thats exactly what active addiction is, a very long slow painful form of suicide.
Stopping enabling not only saves the addicts life, but also gives the enabler an amazing sense of freedom. What most don’t understand is that the enabling person becomes caught up in the active addiction just as much as the using addict. An enabler has a need to be needed and also wants to control things. Once we realize we have no control over an active drug addict we experience a great relief. The first step is to learn how to say no, and the next step is to hold your bottom line.
Remember, if you bend at all you will be taken advantage of. Without setting boundaries and sticking to them recovery will not be possible. Do not allow a loved one’s active addiction to control your life…At the same time you may just be saving theirs.