03 Jul Defeating Enablers in Recovery
Enablers of addicts are not always aware of the harm they cause people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. If you have someone in your life making excuses for your substance abuse that actively helps you get access to drugs or alcohol, or that simply doesn’t support your sobriety, you have an enabler. The only way to have a successful recovery and to avoid the temptations to start using again is to confront your enablers and refuse to let them lead you down the wrong path.
What Is an Enabler?
An enabler is someone who in any way encourages your drug or alcohol abuse. This person often means well, but is in denial about the problem and thinks she is being helpful when the reality is that she is causing you harm. For example, your mom might excuse your bad behavior when you’re drunk when what she should be doing is confronting you and telling you the truth about your problem. A friend may keep giving you money when you’ve spent your last dollar on drugs.
These people don’t mean to encourage your habit. They think they are helping you. How substance abuse affects a family is complex and can lead to denial and acts of enabling. Other enablers are more sinister. Maybe you have a friend with whom you once used drugs or got drunk. Now that you’re sober, this friend is trying to get you to come out to the bar with her. She pushes drugs on you because she feels insecure about her own substance abuse. These enablers are dangerous.
How Do I Resist Enablers?
The first step in getting past the people who enable your habit is to distinguish between those who care but are misguided and those who are more harmful. The latter must be cut out of your life. Confront your friend who wants you to get drunk with her and tell her that you can’t see her anymore. You will be helping yourself, but you may even be helping her to see that she needs to make changes in her own life.
For the other enablers, your friends and family members who mean well, you can talk to them about the problem. It may seem like a difficult conversation to have, but while making amends in recovery you can also discuss the enabling habits that might make sobriety difficult for you. Talk to your mom about needing to hear the truth from her. Tell her you need her to be honest and to stop making excuses. Tell all of your loved ones that supporting you financially in the past only fueled your habit and that if you start using again, they should cut you off.
With caring conversations, you can turn around the impact enablers have had on you in the past. You need not cut everyone out of your life, but if any of these past enablers are not willing to get on board with your recovery, it’s time to say goodbye.
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