Families and friends usually get together during the holiday season to celebrate and spend time together. While most people would like to be surrounded by their loved ones at every moment, addictions can turn things upside down for them. Managing someone with an addiction can be challenging for everyone involved especially during the holidays. You might be attempting to support someone with an active addiction but instead, you could be encouraging them by giving them more ways to continue their substance abuse.
How Do I Know If I'm Enabling?
Often enablers have good intentions when it comes to helping someone who has an addiction problem; unfortunately, though, what they end up doing is worsening the situation for the person addicted to substances.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “enabling behavior occurs when another person, often a codependent, helps or encourages the addict to continue using drugs, either directly or indirectly.” Codependency is often a common issue among family members, especially when a family member is struggling with substance abuse.
Signs of Enabling During The Holidays
Understanding what enabling is and what it looks like, can help you and your family identify if you are enabling your loved one.
Giving Money or Gifts
When someone abuses substances, they often need large amounts of money to continue their drug habits, usually leading to issues with finances. When this happens, offering to provide money for their rent, car payments or other expenses may allow them to spend their own money to fuel their addiction.
Giving a gift card to their favorite store might be a great option but if they have an active addiction, they may sell the gift card for cash to buy alcohol or drugs. It is best to offer to pay for their expenses or even contribute towards their inpatient rehab program when they’re ready to get better.
One of the best ways to have a positive holiday is to set boundaries with the addicted person. While setting boundaries can be difficult, it’s one of the most effective ways to stop enabling your loved one over the holidays.
Addiction often includes manipulation and secrecy so the addicted individual will try to push the boundaries set in place. If you continue to allow them to break rules, they will continue to their addiction and may never experience the negative effects of abusing substances. Be firm in your boundaries and follow through with them. You just might save their life by doing this.
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Enabling also includes hiding your loved one’s substance abuse disorder or completely ignoring that they have a problem altogether. Ignoring or covering up their addiction does not help them with their addiction. Addiction is a debilitating disease that often requires addiction treatment. Trying to save their image in front of other family members or denying that they have a problem only makes the problem worse and may not be in their best interest.
Much like denial, enablers often make excuses for the addicted individual’s habits and behavior. Enablers may even think their loved one is drinking because of their own behavior. They may think it’s okay that they’re abusing drugs or alcohol because the individual is under stress, or having a difficult time and will excuse their excessive substance use.
But I want to Help My Loved One During The Holiday?
It can often be difficult to identify the negative effects of our actions. Knowing the differences between helping and enabling someone who struggles with drugs or alcohol abuse and knowing what these differences are will help get your loved one into rehab and have a better life.
Consider finding the right treatment options, bringing over food, or spending time with your addicted family member as a gift this holiday season. The best way to stop enabling is to create healthy boundaries that will benefit you and your loved one well after the holiday season.
It does not matter if it is the holiday season; your loved one should be held accountable for his/her substance abuse regardless of when it occurs. It’s never too late to start taking action. If you stop enabling during the holiday season, you can set yourself and your family up for a lifetime of happy and healthy holidays.
If your loved one is struggling with substance abuse this holiday, Riverside Recovery of Tampa is here to help. 80% of our staff are in recovery and understand the road to recovery. Contact our admissions team today.