Often when family or friends try to “help” someone who has a serious addiction like alcoholism, they are in fact making it easier for them to keep going down the wrong path and continue the progression of the problem, leaving more time before the addicted person enters rehab treatment.
This is called enabling, and it takes many forms. All of these forms have the same effect, which is allowing the afflicted person to escape the consequences of his actions. The afflicted individual can then continue along his addicted path, with the knowledge that no matter how much he screws up somebody will always be there to rescue him from his or her mistakes.
Now, there is a difference between helping and enabling, but, out of the many opinions and viewpoints, the difference between the two can be agreed upon -- that helping is doing something for someone that they are not able to do themselves, but enabling is doing for someone things that they could and should be doing for themselves.
Basically, enabling creates an atmosphere that the user can comfortably continue his unacceptable behavior.
As long as the addict has their enabling devices in place, it is easy for them to continue to deny they have a problem and to put off going to a rehab treatment center. Most of their problems are being solved by those around them, and it is only when they are forced to face the consequences of their own actions that it will at long last sink in how deep their problems have gotten.
It is not easy for the families and friends of addicts to make these choices. If the addict uses all the money that supposed to be for the rent, he’s not the only one who will be out on the street. The rest of his family will suffer, right along with him. These “choices” will ultimately lead to the addict getting treatment at a drug or alcoholism treatment center.
Tough choices for a family might include taking the money intended for groceries and paying the rent, instead, so that the family doesn’t lose their home.
This is not the only option, however; another option which does not involve enabling would be taking the children to friend or a shelter, and then forcing the alcoholic to go homeless. This protects the family and leaves the addict to face his problem.
These are very hard choices. They necessitate “detachment with love” -- it is love, however. Until the addict faces the consequences of his own actions, he will never realize just how much his addiction has become an issue to those around him and himself.
If you know someone who is having these problems, don’t be an enabler. Help them seek help at a drug or alcoholism treatment center. Rehab treatment is the only surefire way to help your loved one deal with his or her problem, without it getting any worse.