Enabling any addict can be detrimental to their recovery process. Addicts go through stages of thoughts about whether or not they should quit using. Usually, especially in the beginning, the answer always leads back to continuing the use because it “feels better” or is easier than stopping. The problem of enabling, I believe, is the fact that in the drug addiction field, addiction is known as a disease. By defining it as a disease family members feel more incline to assist and to not hold the addict responsible for choices made.
The definition of disease is as follows:
-a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.
Some are predisposed to a drug or alcohol addiction, but some of those same people also choose NOT to use drugs or alcohol. My point is, the addict needs to take responsibility for the fact that no one forced him/her to use drugs or alcohol. It was a conscious choice and with that, comes the consequences. Once an addict has begun using, however, it is very difficult to stop because it is a mental/emotional problem as well as a physical one.
When family and friends get too wrapped up in trying to help the addict, without fully understanding what addiction is, they may begin enabling instead. Family members may bail the addict out of jail or hide them from the police, put them up in hotels or let them stay in their home, give them money, sometimes even go as far as giving a urine sample to the addict so that they won’t have a positive urine screen for probation. The family may even make up excuses for their own enabling behaviors by saying something like “I’m just going to help this one time.” The family often doesn’t realize that by “helping” the addict, they are actually hurting them. The addict continues to use because they have not had a chance to really feel the negative consequences of their actions. The family keeps cushioning the addict from every fall, thereby giving the addict the means to continue using. At this point, the addict is still comfortable using because no one has allowed them to hit the “rock bottom” that they need to ultimately make the decision to seek treatment. Most importantly the family needs to set boundaries and adhere to them. If you say NO, mean it and don’t fall back on your word.
By enabling you may be interfering with God’s plans for that person. God may have them headed on a path where they may reach the end of themselves and find him. He may be leading them to a place with no distractions from the outside world, to a place of destitution, where they may be open for the first time in their live to listen for his voice. They may even reach a place where they cry out to him in desperation. By interfering and not allowing them to feel the full consequences of their behavior and actions you prevent them from reaching the place God intended to show himself to them. He may have to carry them back through the process so they reach they place God intended them to be, before you intervened. To a place where he can work unhindered in their life. So remember the next time you go to enable someone to stay in a harmful lifestyle you may be interfering directly with the very work that God is trying to do in their life.
The family should also realize that it is impossible to talk to an addict about their addiction while they are under the influence, because they are not rational. It is like beating a dead horse, it will only result in the family member getting frustrated and losing hope. The longer the friends and family enable the addict, the longer it will take the addict to reach the action stage of actually getting help. When the pain caused by using drugs/alcohol is more unbearable than the pain of getting help and being able to feel their own emotions again, only then will the addict decide that treatment is the next step. Every addict uses drugs/alcohol for the same general reason; there is something going on in their life currently and/or in the past that they are not willing to face or want to escape from. The only true way for the addict to end the addiction is to find out what that “skeleton” is and work through it; to understand why they feel the need to use drugs/alcohol to cover up the emotions that they are too afraid to deal with; and finally understand that they should not feel ashamed or scared or inferior for having those emotions.
Christ Church on Greenland road has an excellent and well established Celebrate recovery program that is a faith based program and works at dealing with the underlying issues that lead one to want a reprieve from reality by substance abuse. They also offer codependency study groups and groups from multiple addictions not only drugs and alcohol. If you would like more information you can contact them at http://www.ccontheweb.com/ and they will assist you in find a celebrate recovery program in the jacksonville area.
There are also Alcoholics Anonymous(AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA)groups in the Jacksonville for support and encouragement in you journey either a person suffering from addiction or a person living with someone who is addicted. Both of the programs offer Al Anon for the family members of a person suffering from addiction.
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