Families-of-Addicts-Can-Offer-Support-Without-Enabling

Families of Addicts Can Offer Support Without Enabling

When a person begins to have increasing problems because of the abuse of alcohol or drugs, resulting chaos ensues in the individual’s life, and also in the lives of their loved ones. Family members will want to step in and help out of a natural concern in the deterioration of their loved one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Loved ones will show their concern in every way they know how, including telling lies to cover up for the misbehavior caused by drinking or using drugs, making threats to involve law enforcement, assuming blame for the problem and accusing their loved one of not caring about them, among other attempts at control.

As ironic as it may seem, family members who learn how to detach emotionally and refocus on their own lives, will discover addicted loved ones acting more quickly to seek help. Because alcoholics and addicts are accustomed to placing blame on others instead of taking responsibility, detachment can be a painful process for them. In the end, however, detachment puts an end to enabling and places the responsibility where it belongs: on the individual.

Learning To Let Go With Compassion Helps Families of Addicts

There are two key points that will aide those who want to help loved ones without becoming enablers themselves. The first is to accept that they cannot control another person’s behavior. The second is that enabling prevents addicts from suffering the consequences of their choices. By accepting these two points, the process of learning to let go with compassion can being to take hold. Ways to detach with love include (1) setting and maintaining boundaries, (2) refusing to provide money, food and shelter, and (3) ceasing to make excuses or lie for the addict.

Family members also can help by shedding the guilt and shame associated with addiction and learning to live their own lives. Once they stop cleaning up, both literally and figuratively, for the addict, they free themselves from resentment and frustration.

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About the Reviewer: Chris Barnes

Chris BarnesChristopher Barnes has worked in health care for over thirty years. He is a graduate of Alabama State University where he earned a double Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982. Christopher Barnes is currently the Director of Clinical services at The Discovery House where he has been employed for the past five years. Because of his extensive experience in health care & substance abuse he has an excellent rapport with constituents, clients, and other professional organizations in the counseling/social service community.

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