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How to Stop Enabling a Friend or Family Member’s Addiction

The powerful emotions and complicated relationships that exist between parent, sibling or friend and the addicted person can further complicate the problem of addiction. Instead of really helping the afflicted person, you may inadvertently enable the substance abuse. Here are some of the more common mistakes friends and family members can make. These are part of the obstacles that can hinder more effective solutions, such as drug rehab. Making up excuses for them – When the addicted friend or family member is absent from work or is in trouble with authorities, your natural first reaction is to defend or come to his or her rescue. If there wasn’t an addiction issue, this would be the normal course of action to take. But, making excuses and rationalizing the addict’s behavior to yourself and others only serves to protect him or her from the negative consequences of addiction. When nothing significantly bad can happen, he or she won’t feel the need to change. Giving them money – Sympathy and the desire to support the addicted person’s material needs are also natural emotions. But it’s easy to underestimate the addiction and overestimate how much control the addicted person has over his or her thinking. You could assume that he or she would use the money appropriately. In most cases though, the addict will use it to acquire more of the substance he or she is abusing. Providing for their needs – Wanting to provide food, shelter, etc. for is also fueled by the natural feeling to protect and support the addicted friend or family member, and it results in the same enabling effect. You have to allow the addict to experience the disruption that addiction can truly cause. In many cases, this enabling from friends and family can continue for years, allowing the person with the addiction to take advantage of the help loved ones give. While this is a common issue, it can be stopped. Simply stepping back from the situation and considering your friend’s safety and future can help you decide that enabling is not going to lead to recovery. More often than not, the addict enters a drug rehab center because he or she finally realizes how unsustainable a life ravaged by substance abuse can be. While it may be the hardest thing to do, tough love may be exactly what your loved one needs. (Photo via)

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