How to Love an Addict Without Enabling Them

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Wednesday November 20, 2019

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If someone close to you has a substance abuse problem, you’ve probably spent hours thinking of how to love an addict without enabling. It’s natural to want to help them and see them do better, but you’ll have to juggle this without reinforcing the problem.

You may wonder how to do this if you’ve never had experience with such a situation before. Making the right decisions is crucial for everyone’s betterment, and you don’t have to figure it out alone.

The journey to sobriety is long, but it’s rewarding — and the benefits affect everyone. Keep reading for some advice on love without enabling.

Set Clear Boundaries

The first thing you should do is set boundaries with your loved one. If you tell them one thing, don’t go back on your word and do another. Your “no” should be final. It’s challenging the first few times, but you must remember you’re doing it for their well-being. Allowing them to persuade you into supporting their habit will begin the cycle again.

Avoid putting their needs before yours. Don’t bail them out of jail on a late night when you have work the next morning. Spending all your time and energy on the situation will wear you out, and can pose a danger to your mental and physical health. Offer support if they need to talk or want to seek help, but inform them of your limits.

Stop your shared codependency by refusing their demands. Everyone is responsible for their actions, and this applies to your loved one too. You may feel guilt or responsibility toward them, but allowing these emotions to fester only makes it easier to enable them. Recognize the signs early so you can avoid continually asking yourself how to love an addict without enabling.

Cut Off Financial Help

Paying their bills or lending them cash reinforces it’s okay to spend money on using. No one wants to see a loved one struggle, but sometimes it’s a necessary wake-up call. Whenever they ask for money, tell them no. You can offer to pay for rehab but avoid anything else. They may try to guilt you about refusing to support them, but ignore these complaints and stick to your boundaries.

If you and multiple people are supporting them, you should all agree to stop funds at once. The method won’t work if there’s someone else providing them money or helping them out of bad situations. Your loved one must understand their actions come with consequences.

Offer Assistance, Rehab

Once your loved one agrees to seek help, you can assist with this process by looking up rehab centers. Many exist, and you may wonder which options are right for them. Do your research on which fit their case. Opt for extensive programs instead of 30-day ones, as it takes patience and time to get sober. Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent resource for those addicted to alcohol, and anyone can complete it in the amount of time they choose.

Female addicts prosper in tight-knit environments that promote experiential therapies and mental awareness. Be aware of what kind of social and psychological support your loved one will need to thrive — every rehab center takes a different approach.

The first stage of convincing your loved one to go to rehab can be complicated. Spur them on with actions — such as stopping the money flow — rather than arguments. They’ll realize you’re serious and be more likely to cooperate.

Don’t express judgment if they relapse during rehab. This occurrence is common, and it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Many addicts relapse several times before achieving long-lasting sobriety. Affirm them when they reach milestones in their treatment.

Many people fall into addiction because it helps them handle issues in their life, whether these are mental health or interpersonal problems. Offer ways to cope with anxiety or depression other than drugs. Do activities together such as painting, yoga or music.

Acknowledge the Problem

It’s harder to provide help if no one recognizes the problem. Some people will pretend the addiction doesn’t exist to keep the peace in their homes and lives. Others may lie to employers or other acquaintances to keep their loved ones out of trouble. It doesn’t help anyone in the long run, though — it only lets issues spiral until no one can ignore them any longer.

Learn to understand your loved one and why they use. Digging into that history can be painful, but it’s the only way to have a full understanding of the truth. When you know the truth, it’s easier to uncover and heal the source. Recognize the triggers that encourage your loved one to use. Mental health issues and addictive patterns manifest differently for different genders, so familiarize yourself with their symptoms.

People who genuinely care about their loved ones will try to secure help — otherwise, the addiction might do damage. In 2018, almost 68,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. This number is lower than in recent years, but drug usage is still on the rise, especially with the booming opioid crisis.

Learn to Love an Addict Without Enabling

It takes time to figure out how to love an addict without enabling, but you can succeed with patience and understanding. Treat them with kindness. Realize getting sober is difficult, but avoid reinforcing the habit.

Help your loved one on the path to recovery whenever reasonable, but keep your boundaries in place. Everyone will be better off for your diligence.

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