Addicts come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. One thing they all have in common is the wake of destruction and heartbreak they leave in their path. Often the most hurt by their pattern of lying, deceit and selfishness is their parents.
Parents rightly feel the responsibility to prepare a child for life in all it’s challenges and variations. When a child grows up and becomes entrapped in a pattern of habitual use of drugs or alcohol the parent often feels as though they have failed. While this is a understandable response to seeing your offspring become an addict, some parents go well beyond a feeling of sadness, worry and concern and begin to take extra measures to “help” their child that often lead to enabling the child into further and more destructive addiction.
Enabling is when you are doing something for the addict that they should be doing themselves, thus making it easier for the addict to continue to use drugs/alcohol. When parents enable they often are doing so with the motive to protect the child from themselves. However, they don’t realize that by keep the full consequence addiction at bay, they are allowing the problem to grow larger. Most parents only stop enabling after the cost of enabling threatens to bankrupt them financial or begins to destroy the relationshps aroudn them. Even then some parents do not stop enabling (helping, in the mind of the parent) the addict.
Parents often find themselves doing the following enabling behaviors:
*Sheltering the grown child so that they are not homeless
*Paying rent/mortgage for the addict so that they do not become homeless
*Paying bills for the addict so they don’t lose their car.
*Calling in sick for the addict so they don’t loose their job.
*Reasoning with the spouse of the child so that they won’t leave the addict
*Making doctor’s appointments for the addict so they can get medication
*Vouching for the addict with the doctor/court system.
and many more.
Having talked with many, many parents of addicts I know how difficult and confusing it is to try and understand the world of addiction. Many parents most easily trapped by these common enabling behaviors and the deceitful behavior of addiction are those that have never known about the drug world and cannot spot patterns of addiction and therefore don’t realize the extent that their behaviors and responses make it possible for the addict to continue to use their drug without true consequence.
Part of the answer is to get educated on addiction and what enabling is all about.
Here’s a place to start to learn about enabling relationships. Get all the information you can about the drug your child is using. please feel free to contact me and make an appointment to meet to discuss your individual situation.
Read all of David Curry's blogs at http://blog.rescue-mission.org
or visit the Rescue Mission at http://www.rescue-mission.org