Sep 26, 2012

Enabling and rescuing an addict

Do you have a member in the family who falls under any of these categories: sex addiction, alcoholism, workaholism, over-spending, an eating disorder or a gambling addiction? You keep baling them out, and instead of helping them you enable them to continue with their behavior which is spiralling out of control. This is self-destructive enabling; the person is not learning anything and instead of leading a normal life his behavior gets worse and he remains dysfunctional. What he needs to hear is the word, no, that you will not continue aiding and abetting him, and that you cannot give him money or pay his bills anymore. It is a harsh penalty but if you love the person refusing him is the best thing to do. 

Understanding addiction

Addiction is a disease. You can never cure it, but you can arrest it. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; even if you refrain from using or drinking or gambling for ten years, you are still compulsive. Going to rehab helps because you learn how to change your thinking, what to do, what to stay away from, and how to help yourself. The first thing you can do if you are sincere about changing the way you live is to join a twelve-step program; the most important ingredient necessary is conviction and your determination to succeed. If you are half-hearted about change, do not waste anyone’s time. An addict has to realize what he is doing to his family and himself and if he does not care about where he is heading, he is not taking you down with him.

Practicing tough love

·         Do not give any addict money no matter how he begs. Just plain no and meaning it is enough.

·         Plan an intervention and have everyone write a letter to him. If he does not attend the intervention, cut the friendship dead in its tracks.

·         Offer to go with him to the twelve-step meetings and drive him to rehab.

·         Tell him to stay away from his alcoholic and gambling friends. The idea is to spell out the rules of the friendship only once and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior to you. He has to feel the pain of his actions otherwise there is no reason for him to change. 

·         State clearly that once you break off the relationship, there is no turning back and that he will not be allowed in the house. 

·         Go online for more information on enabling and co-dependency to help you better understand the progressive nature of addiction and what you should and should not do as a friend.