Addiction cannot exist in a vacuum. It has to be nurtured and fed. The fuel is the addiction enabling of unwitting family and friends. In the absence of nutrients, living things whither and die. This same truth holds true for a living addiction. If we remove its source of life, it will also whither and die.
Most families and loved ones of addicts do not consciously understand how they contribute to the problem. They are usually innocents that have been taken hostage by this disease as well. The cunning and manipulative nature of addiction allows everyone involved to believe that they are merely helping the addict to live a happier, more productive life. Through continued financial and emotional support, excuses to friends and family for irresponsible behavior, or a general lack of accounttability the message gets sent that this behavior is acceptable. I cannot begin to count the number of families that I have worked with over the years that have put themselves in financial and emotional distress because of the help they have tried to offer their addicted loved one.
Most of the time addiction enabling is caused by the need for the enabler to find some temporary relief as well. I once intervened on a young man whose mother left $400 cash on his night stand every morning knowing that he would buy heroin with it later that day. While it didn’t start out this way, over time it became easier to pay him the $400 than too fight with him. She had become a hostage and her ransom was $400 a day. Once she was willing to change this behavior and implement other boundaries he entered treatment and remains sober. In order for recovery to begin for everyone involved there has to be a willingness on the part of the family and friends to make changes to their behavior first in most cases. If you find that you could be contributing to the addictive cycle of someone you love and are unsure how to make the changes that will be necessary to facilitate the recovery process you are not alone. Please call and let us give you some guidance on what steps would be helpful for you and the addict in your life.