It’s heart-wrenching to watch someone you love end up in a bad place. You would do almost anything in your power to take on their pain so that they can feel better. As applaudable as this desire is, it’s impossible. They have to get out of their tough spot on their own. That doesn’t mean you can’t be supportive. You just can’t be an enabler. Not sure how to tread that line? Let us help you.
Don’t Give Them Money
Rule #1 of the How Not to Be an Enabler Handbook is don’t give them money. An addict will forgo groceries, electricity, and rent to get their next high. So, giving them cash is like giving a teen an iTunes gift card. You can’t control the songs they download and just pray it’s not Nickelback.
Also, don’t pay their bills or buy them groceries. These olive branches are only prolonging their rock bottom. The quicker you cut them off financially, the sooner they will change their actions.
Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t invite them out to dinner or share your streaming service password with them. Do the things that you would do if they were on the right track. Just don’t go overboard and never cover the utilities or rent.
Stop with the Excuses
People struggling with recovery may rely on our empathy. They’re fully aware of how much we care about them. Unfortunately, the addict inside of them will exploit this weakness for their advantage. They’ll get you to feel sorry for them so that you end up making excuses in their favor.
You’re not dealing with the person you love. It’s their Mr. Hyde side. So, stop sugarcoating the situation. When they don’t show up to a family gathering or work, hold them accountable for it. Your loved one isn’t going through a rough patch. They’re battling their demons and must hit bottom.
Are You Dependent on Them?
The lines of enabler and supporter become very blurry when we’re sucked in ourselves. When you take care of someone for so long, they become a part of your identity. Every time they show signs of succeeding, it’s an accomplishment for you, too.
While that is a sign of genuine love, it’s also unhealthy behavior. Just like you can’t take on their pain, their joys also aren’t yours either. You can feel happy for them, but you must put your happiness first. For your own health, you might need to create some distance. Otherwise, neither of you are going to get better.