helping someone with addiction

How to Help Your Loved One Without Enabling or Hurting Them

Learning how to help a loved one suffering from addiction without enabling is important. Family members tend to rally around a loved one in times of trouble. It doesn’t matter what type of trouble they’re in; the family usually always wants to help!

This is no different when a person is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. Their family has a natural tendency to fix things, but this can quickly evolve into enabling.  

Unfortunately, enabling can become toxic and actually encourage, not discourage, an addiction. This is why it’s important for families to recognize the difference between ‘helping’ and ‘enabling’ and how to support their loved one’s recovery. 

So what is the difference between ‘helping’ and ‘enabling’?

Helping is when you do something for someone who can’t do it themselves. Enabling is when you do something for someone who can do it themselves. Let’s learn more about how to help someone with an addiction without hurting. 

Know the Signs 

First, it’s important to recognize the signs that you are enabling someone. At first glance, your actions might look like those of a saint. But by bailing someone out or doing too much, you’re preventing them from learning the natural consequences of their actions and behaviors. 

Below are some questions to ask yourself. If you answer ‘yes’ to any one of them, it’s likely that you are enabling your loved one. 

  • Are the actions of someone else causing me to suffer? 
  • Am I doing things for my loved one that they can do themselves? 
  • Am I trying to avoid a crisis even when it’s going to happen naturally? 
  • Do I find myself covering up for a person’s mistakes? 
  • Am I manipulating someone so they behave how I want them to? 

Usually, families start to realize that something needs to change when they’ve exhausted themselves with no improvement. 

Participate in Family Therapy 

Family therapy is an important part of the recovery process. If you can get your loved one into addiction treatment (Awakenings Treatment Center is located in Agoura, California), there should be opportunities to participate in family therapy. But you can also seek this type of support if your loved one refuses treatment. These sessions can be beneficial toward the healing process, and they will teach you the signs of enabling and codependency, and how to avoid them. 

Learn About Addiction 

Another thing you can do is educate yourself on addiction. Most people are unaware of the neurological components of addiction and can’t understand why their loved one just won’t quit. When you understand addiction, you can set realistic expectations and be better prepared for the recovery journey. 

Set Healthy Boundaries 

To avoid enabling behaviors, it’s important to set healthy boundaries and consequences. This is not easy at first, but it will get easier over time. And you will be a healthier, happier person because of it. Addicts need to learn natural consequences from their actions. Being uncomfortable is a catalyst for change. 

Practice Open Communication 

If your loved one accepts help, it’s a giant step in the right direction. But relapse rates are high in early recovery so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Let your loved one know that you are always available to chat. If they are struggling, direct them toward their support resources, such as their sponsor or 12-step group. 

Don’t Use Substances Around Them 

To provide a supportive environment for your loved one, it’s important that you abstain from using drugs or alcohol around them. Having a drink can be a trigger for this person, and this can make your home life more tumultuous. If you have alcohol in the home, be sure to keep it in a locked cabinet out of sight. 

Enjoy Healthy, Sober Activities Together 

Enjoy time with your loved one as you work toward building a new, sober lifestyle. If your loved one has completed drug rehab in Agoura Hills, there are many changes they’ll have to make. They might feel bad giving up certain friendships and activities, so keep them busy by enjoying activities together. This will pass the time, prevent boredom, and help them discover new passions. 

Get Help from a Family Support Program

Here at Awakenings Treatment Center, we understand that families don’t mean to enable their loved one. Rather, they want to know they’re doing everything they can to keep their loved one alive and well. Unfortunately, the only person who can control this is the addict. You can’t make someone get sober or stay sober. You can encourage them, though. 

This is why we offer a Family Support Program as part of our outpatient drug rehab in Agoura. This program brings together families and clients for an experiential healing process. To learn more about the services offered at Awakenings, contact our admissions department today.