When a friend or family member has an addiction, their loved ones are eager to help them. Unfortunately, the people who are closest to an addict often unintentionally become what is referred to as an “enabler.” An enabler doesn’t want to cause more harm, and it’s rarely deliberate. But when the tough topic of drug rehab centers takes a backseat to protecting the drug abuser from the consequences of the addiction, that’s exactly what happens.
The Help Psychology Behind Enabling
Drug and alcohol abusers intuitively know the people in their lives who will help them escape consequences and sometimes even feed the addiction. Enablers often feel that if they don’t help, they’re being cruel or at least unkind. It becomes an unhealthy relationship of manipulation and surrender.
One of the strongest motivators is guilt. When a person struggling with an addiction says, “I need your help,” it’s difficult for anyone to turn their back. Maybe it’s making a phone call to cover a work absence with an employer. Or maybe it’s cleaning up, either literally or figuratively, the aftermath of a drug or alcohol binge. Drug rehab centers are not usually the help that an addicted person asks for.
Another concern, according to UK-based Counselling Resource, is that something terrible might happen if the enabler refuses. Drug and alcohol abusers can be masters of influence and control. They know an enabler’s weaknesses, which are rooted in caring, which make them easy targets for getting the desired results.
How an Enabler Causes More Harm than Good
Enablers would probably give almost anything to make the situation and their loved one better. But when drug and alcohol abusers aren’t allowed to face the consequences of their actions, worse is the only direction that it can go. In truth, people dealing with an addiction have the right and the duty to learn from their mistakes. An enabler takes that away.
Sometimes it comes from a place of wanting peace in the relationship. If the enabler goes along with it or pretends not to notice, there won’t be an argument. However, the University of Pennsylvania Health System explains that friends and family members who believe in “tough love” when it comes to addiction can be just as much of enablers as those who try to keep peace.
Shaming, controlling, taking on a superior attitude, and lecturing are also enabling behaviors, and can all push the drug or alcohol abuser deeper into addiction. Whether compliance or confrontation, gut instincts are often wrong, no matter how good the intentions. Without a background in addictions and psychology, it’s rarely possible to know the right actions to take.
How Drug Rehab Centers Can Help
An addiction is a bona fide medical condition, and the average layperson just doesn’t have the training to cope. It’s nearly impossible for an addicted person to get better while living in the same enabling environment. But drug rehab centers change all that.
At a treatment center, enabling comes to an abrupt halt. The experienced staff knows that each person is different, which means that the same approach won’t work for everyone. But more than that, they know which approach is the right one – the one that will help recovery begin.
It’s hard work helping someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol get better. And while loved ones might seem best suited for the task, the truth is that they need time to heal, too. They may also need therapy so that the cycle truly stops for everyone.
Addictions can bring out the worst in everyone, even when certain behavior feels like the right thing to do. It’s normal for parents, spouses, friends, and children to be deeply affected by the behavior and illness of a loved one and want to do what’s right. But without proper training, no one is an expert.
At Cornerstone, we understand how difficult it is for a drug or alcohol addict to find the right path. Addictions are so strong, and getting healthy isn’t easy. But in the professional, caring environment of drug rehab centers, real recovery can begin. If you or someone you care about suffers from an addiction, give us a call at 888-711-0354 or contact us online. We’re here to help.