Addiction has a wide-ranging effect and can affect interpersonal dynamics between you and the person under the influence. Many times, the addicted individual will develop patterns of manipulation to hide their addiction, get money for their drug of choice and induce those around them to enable their drug use. This “enabling” keeps the addiction going and can be very destructive to relationships. However, breaking the patterns of manipulation and enabling can be very difficult. Here are a few facts about enabling that can help you change your behavior patterns.
How Patterns of Enabling Form
Getting and using the drug is always the ultimate goal, and whatever means will get them to that goal is fair game to the addicted individual. And because the parent, sibling or friend wants to continue the relationship, they can be easily led into situations of enabling the addicted person’s destructive behavior. Manipulation is a psychological method of getting what you want from another person, by using indirect, deceptive or dishonest means. Using anger and fear can also be used to manipulate other people to comply. Once learned, these patterns of action and reaction continue, again & again.
Signs You Are Enabling Your Loved One
Enabling tends to follow certain patterns:
· You may find that you are ignoring your loved ones’ dangerous behavior because you’re in denial about how serious it is.
· You may find it difficult to express your emotions, because of negative repercussions.
· You may find you frequently act out of fear of what will result. You may lie to others about the addicted person’s behavior.
· You may blame the addict’s behavior on other people.
· You may find yourself resenting the addicted person deeply, but can stop enabling their substance use.
Monitoring Your Reactions
Learning how to stop your enabling takes a bit of practice. First, you have to train yourself to become more aware of your reactions. When in an interaction with the addicted person, try to anticipate what their “goal” might be. Notice how your emotions play into the encounter. Do you feel afraid of the consequences if you don’t go along with their wishes? Are you afraid of making them angry? Are you worried about what the neighbors will think if you don’t comply, or whether the addicted person will stop depending on you? These motivations can get in the way of a healthier relationship and can play into the addicted person’s hands.
Educate Yourself on Addiction and Its Effects
Learn as much as you can about addiction and how it changes the behavior of the addicted person. You will recognize many of the unhealthy patterns of interaction that cause you to enable the behavior.
Practical Ways To Stop Enabling
Once you are aware of the pattern, you can cause yourself to react in a different way. You can refuse to give the addicted individual money. You can stop yourself from intervening to help them avoid the consequences of their own actions. You can stop lying for them, excusing their behavior or covering for them. These changes put you on a healthier path of behavior.
Seek Out Support For Your Efforts
Individuals who must deal with addicted individuals go through many of the same experiences. They often find it helpful to meet with others to discuss their feelings, find solutions and support each other in their efforts to stop enabling. Look for a support group in your area that can help you implement the needed behavioral changes that will stop your enabling.
Encourage Treatment and Help Explore Options
Once you have mastered control over your own behavior and reactions, you will be in a better position to talk to the addicted individual, to encourage them to receive treatment for their problem. They may be resistant for a wide range of reasons, such as fear of withdrawal symptoms, social embarrassment, shame, fear of the unknown or other issues. You will be better able to calmly encourage the person to get treatment and help them to find appropriate facilities where they can receive treatment.