It is excoriating to watch someone you love in any kind of pain, especially the pain associated with addiction. Most of us would do anything to help our loved ones, but we feel a sense of helplessness. There are many ways that people with good intentions are actually displaying enabling behaviors which in turn harm addiction recovery. We have no right to keep someone from hitting their personal bottom, and that’s exactly what enablers are doing, whether they realize it or not. The thing about enabling behaviors and how they harm addiction recovery is that when we continue to offer an addict money for food, gas, bills, or to even fund their addiction, we are essentially expediting their demise.
Most parents will go to desperate lengths to save their addicted child. Their desperation can actually harm addiction recovery, even though they have the best of intentions. My father, a hardworking man of limited means, continuously bailed me out of jail after multiple DWI’s and arrests. I begged and pleaded and swore through my sloppy, drunk tears that I would never drink again, and I genuinely meant it.
“I made promises to God and to myself that this was the last time, never again would I find myself back behind bars.”
As soon as I was free, I was already searching for the next high. Sometimes it would take hours, occasionally a few days if I was lucky. It seemed as though the humiliation of being arrested yet again was instantly forgotten, but daddy was always there to bail me out. He was, at the time, unable to recognize enabling behaviors and how they harm addiction recovery. Unfortunately, my father’s enabling behaviors got me back out into the community where I could chase down the next high.
Let me be clear in saying that in no way am I blaming my parents for their actions. They did the best they could with the sick person they were dealing with, but what it boils down to is that I was the one putting the poison in my body. I was the one who caused them innumerable restless nights. They had no idea how to deal with me, and even though there actions were out of love, they weren’t aware of enabling behaviors and how they harm addiction recovery may have delayed my sobriety.
We addicts seem to forget the millions of times that drinking or using has caused pain and misery. We hold on to the notion that this one time will be different, to heck with the other failed escapades. It’s a vicious cycle and unfortunately we take those that we love along for the ride. Addiction is a complex disease which is why it is so puzzling to the loved ones watching from the outside. They want to help, but they just don’t know what to do. That is why outside, professional help understanding and recognize enabling behaviors and how they harm addiction recovery is so important. There is treatment available for the addict as well as the family or loved ones. Addiction is a family disease, and it is important that everyone gets the help they deserve.