According to a Pew Research Center Survey conducted in 2017, 46% of U.S. adults say they have a family member or close friend who is addicted to drugs or has been in the past. In 2016, 7.4 million Americans aged 12 and up reported having the criteria to meet a substance use disorder, conducted by the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Nearly half of us know of someone struggling with addiction; as a close friend or family member, it’s normal to want to help the people you love. After all, you care about your loved one and you want to make sure they’re taken care of, even if it seems they are unable to take care of themselves. While each circumstance is different, it’s important to consider enabling behaviors because while you think you may be helping your loved one, you may in fact be encouraging their drug use.
The University of Pennsylvania provides an excellent list of enabling behaviors that many of us engage in, although they are not healthy neither for us nor our loved one because all of these tactics fail to recognize that a problem exists and that our loved one needs help. Here are a few, but you can find the complete list here.
- Denial – expecting that your loved one is capable of thinking logically and rationally, despite their drug use, accepting the blame for their use, etc.
- Justification – going along with your loved one’s reasons why they should be able to use drugs or drink, rationalizing their habits by saying that “other people are doing it”
- Minimizing the situation – this could be particularly dangerous if you allow your loved one to move in by thinking “oh, they will get back up on their feet here within a month and they will get their own place,” etc.
- Taking over responsibilities – finding a babysitter, doing their dishes, taking out their trash, and more shows your loved one that they don’t have to worry about getting better because you will take care of their responsibilities for them.
If you find yourself employing any of these enabling strategies, make the decision that your loved one has a problem and that they need help. Your next step should be to speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center – if you can find a center for your loved one to attend, you can host an intervention to motivate them to seek help.
Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, contact us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.