How to Avoid Enabling Your Addicted Loved One During Social Isolation

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July 22, 2020

While social isolation helps stop the spread of COVID-19, it can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can negatively impact those struggling with drug addictions or undergoing treatment and can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as reverting back to drug use.

If you are a friend or family member of someone with a drug addiction, you may see your loved one dealing with these feelings. You may want to help them through these emotions or behaviors causing increased drug use or relapse. However, you can easily enable their addiction instead of helping and supporting them along their recovery journey.

What Is the Difference Between Enabling and Helping?

While you may have pure intentions behind your thoughts or actions, enabling does not allow your loved one to break out of the cycle of drug addiction. Instead, enabling allows your loved one to continue on that path because they will not have a reason or desire to seek treatment.

Enabling can occur if you experience feelings of denial regarding your loved one’s drug addiction or begin to justify their actions. For example, if you say they use drugs to relieve stress, that enables them to continue using drugs to cope.

A pattern of enabling can lead you to:

  • Cover for your loved one’s negative behaviors or actions
  • Blame others for their addiction or actions
  • Lend them money
  • Bail them out of jail
  • And more

These behaviors often take a great deal of your time, effort and money. Most importantly, enabling behaviors do not allow your loved one to face any consequences or pursue the help they truly need to recover from their addiction.

5 Steps to Stop Enabling Your Addicted Loved One

Enabling is a common behavior in either friends or family who have to witness their loved one battle addiction. Here are a few steps you can take to transition from enabling to helping your loved one:

1. Set Boundaries

No longer enabling an addiction involves setting boundaries. Do not lend your friend or family member money to purchase drugs or bail them out of jail if they get arrested. Stepping back will allow them to face the serious consequences of their actions for the first time.

2. Encourage Treatment

The earlier you can encourage someone to seek help, the greater their chances will be for success. Be aware of when and how you approach them, though. For example, you don’t want to talk to them when they are under the influence — approach them in a non-confrontational and empathetic manner.

3. Hold an Intervention

An intervention is when family and friends come together to share how an individual’s addiction has impacted everyone’s lives. Consider this step, if necessary, and even hold a rehearsal if you want to practice what you’ll say beforehand.

4. Take Them to Treatment

If your loved one agrees to treatment, you can take them to their appointments. This will help motivate them if they are struggling to follow through with their scheduled appointments or recovery meetings.

5. Provide Support

Ultimately, your loved one must manage their addiction on their own. You should support them on their journey and be patient and encouraging. Look into a provider who can provide addiction counseling to friends and loved ones, so you can get the support you need.

Start the Journey to Recovery at AppleGate Recovery

If your loved one is struggling with addiction, AppleGate Recovery can offer hope. We provide patients with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and counseling to help individuals overcome addiction while living their lives.

Learn more about how to get started in our program today.