If you have a friend or loved one that uses drugs, you need to draw a line in the sand and create boundaries between the two of you. By creating boundaries, you not only protect yourself, but you keep yourself from becoming an enabler. The last thing your loved one needs while they’re struggling with addiction is encouragement. They need someone to give them tough love and to help them stop using. You can be that person for them, but it’s important to learn about healthy boundaries first. To learn more about how to create healthy boundaries with an addict, keep reading. 

What is an Enabler?

An enabler is someone who encourages another person to continue about their bad behavior. With drug addicts, people often think that this means giving them drugs or being a source of direct encouragement for their drug use, but that’s not exactly the case. Enabling someone to use drugs can look like a variety of different things, such as not addressing their behavior or lying for them in sticky situations. There are so many different ways to be an enabler on top of straight encouragement. 

6 Signs of an Enabler

If you’re worried that your behaviors are enabling a loved one to keep using drugs, it’s time to put your foot down. Many enablers are unaware of their behavior and believe that they’re helping. However, sometimes these “helpful” behaviors can actually make situations worse. Let’s take a look at six signs of an enabler and what you can do to cease these behaviors. 

1. Ignoring Sketchy Behavior

By ignoring sketchy behavior you’re putting forward the notion that you don’t care about what they’re doing. By not calling it out, they might think that their behavior is okay and not hurting/bothering anyone. If you see sketchy behavior, such as the use of drugs, purchasing drugs, abusing a prescription, or anything else you deem to be “sketchy” or “shifty” you should talk to them about their actions. 

You don’t have to call them out directly, but by having a conversation with them, you’ll be able to address that they’re doing something wrong. While this may not take them off course completely, it’ll make them aware that they’re doing something that upsets you or doesn’t sit right with you. 

2. Resenting Your Friend or Loved One

By getting angry or upset with your loved ones for their actions, you’ll only make them feel worse about their behaviors. They’re likely engaging in alcohol or drug abuse because they don’t have any healthy coping mechanisms. By treating them as a villain, you’re only adding to the stress they feel every day. If you’re having trouble coping with the situation and you feel resentment toward your loved one, the best thing you can do for yourself is remove yourself from the situation completely. 

If you don’t want to remove yourself from the situation, try educating yourself on drug and alcohol abuse and try to understand why your loved one might be doing what they’re doing. Talk to them about it in a calm manner and try to help where you can. 

3. Casting Blame

Like number two, casting blame is also unhelpful in this situation. The drug addict or alcoholic doesn’t need to be yelled at or blamed for situations that occur because of their wrongdoings. Casting blame or yelling at them may only drive them to drink or use drugs further. Talking to them calmly about your feelings or removing yourself when you feel they aren’t receptive are the best ways to go. 

Remember, it’s not their fault they developed an addiction. Addiction can happen to anyone at any time. 

4. Lying on Their Behalf

At the time, it may seem like a good idea to lie on your loved one’s behalf. You might be helping them keep their job or keep their addiction from heavily impacting their everyday life, but this is actually enabling behavior. By helping them lie, you’re helping them to avoid the negative consequences associated with drug or alcohol abuse and allowing them to continue using with no repercussions. 

If you’ve been lying on their behalf, it’s time to stop. While you’re definitely helping to keep them out of the weeds, you’re also sheltering them from all the damage their drug or alcohol abuse is causing. By knowing what they’re causing and allowing their life to fall apart around them, they might sober up to the reality of their actions and be more willing to accept treatment. 

5. Not Expressing Your Emotions to Them

When one of your loved ones is suffering from an addiction, you may feel like you can’t talk to them about your problems or what you’re feeling. You might feel like talking about your feelings will only make things worse for them, but your feelings are important too and you can’t hide them just because you’re worried about what it will do to them. 

You have to be open and honest with them if you want to help them and yourself through the process. Again, being honest with them about what you’re feeling and how their addiction is affecting you might help motivate them to seek treatment. By keeping your feelings quiet, they might assume that their actions don’t have consequences amongst their friends and family. 

6. Prioritizing Their Needs Above Your Own

Enablers may also prioritize the needs of their loved ones over their own. It’s nice to help out a loved one who’s struggling with addiction, but you can’t forget about your own self-care in the process. You should never sacrifice your own well-being in order to help a loved one. Boundaries are important, and you should set them for yourself and your loved one. 

Keeping a distance when you need to can help you maintain your sanity throughout the process. You don’t need to sacrifice every part of you to help. If you do, your loved one will likely assume that you’ll always be there to help or pick up the pieces. 

Help a Loved One Get the Treatment They Need ASAP 

If you have a loved one struggling with substance abuse, it’s time to stop being an enabler. Stop participating in the above behaviors and instead push them toward treatment. To learn more about the treatment options at Asheville Recovery Center, give us a call today.

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