Breaking The Habit: Enabling Alcoholism

One of the most difficult things to do when you are dealing with a loved one who is abusing a substance is to admit that your attempts to help are actually causing more harm than good. In general when you care about someone it is natural to want to help them, and keep them from harming themselves or anyone else for that matter. This instinct doesn’t go away because someone is an alcoholic, it may actually even become more intense. You can see that your loved one is ill and you want to do anything within your power to help them, and keep them out of trouble.

Is Your Help Really Helping? How Helping Can Actually Be Enabling Alcoholism

The problem is the more that you do to help, and keep them from facing the consequences of their actions the more you are actually becoming part of the problem.

This can be difficult to face, even when you deeply understand that you are doing more harm than good.

Part of this may stem from everyone’s desire to feel wanted. It’s a natural thing to want to be loved, and feel needed by the people you surround yourself with. An addict may be especially grateful when you rescue them from a bad situation. Enabling others can actually become an addiction of its own. It feels good to help others, and that’s what you convince yourself that you are doing.

Low Self-Esteem Can Play A Part In Enabling Alcoholics

People who suffer from self-esteem issues are especially prone to repeating this kind of pattern. They get what it is they are lacking from the addict in their appreciation and  attention, no matter how short lived it is. In a way they are paying for that attention.

Enabling can take on many different forms. One of the first and most common types of enabling is to help them cover up their addiction. This can be simple tasks like lying to a boss, or another family member.

By covering up for them your allowing them to continue their drinking under the radar.

Even when you are aware of how harmful your enabling can be to the person you want more than anything to help it can be hard to stop and break the pattern.

Excuses And Justifications For Enabling Those With Alcohol Problems

There are many different excuses and justifications that people use to continue enabling the substance abuser in their life. Here are just a few of those.

Hanging on to hope: Everyone wants them to mean it when they say this is the last time, or that things are going to change. When you love someone and they are fighting an addiction it is easy to fall into the arms of hope and give them just one more chance, even if it’s the hundredth time.

Our personal egos: It’s hard to admit it but if you look hard you will probably find that a good portion of the reason you continue is that you don’t want to be the bad guy. Everyone wants to be liked, and when you rescue an addict you are for that moment their favorite person.

It’s not their fault: This is a very common excuse that people use to continue helping someone who is dealing with substance abuse. They realize that the addiction is an illness, but instead of doing what is best for the person addicted they do what they think is best by protecting them from the consequences because they are ill.

Society: Sometimes what other people think gets the better of us. Many people are concerned that if they stop helping the alcoholic that others in their life will think less of them or feel that they don’t care about their family.

Fear: Fear is almost always a driving factor, and it can come in different shapes and sizes. Some may fear that their loved one may get worse, and even die if they don’t intervene. Others are simply afraid that the alcoholic will do blame them for the problems they have caused.

It’s just normal: for some this isn’t the first person that they have had this type of relationship with, or they have been doing this for so long that they really don’t know how else to be. This can be the most difficult reasoning behind continuing to enable an alcoholic as it is one of the hardest to break.

Anyone who is involved with an alcoholic has fallen into one of these traps at least once.


How To Break The Cycle Of Enabling An Alcoholic

Thankfully there are steps you can take to stop this cycle and truly help the alcoholic in your life to realize that they have a problem and need to seek out professional help.

Much like them having to see that they have an addiction that is out of hand you need to see your own struggles and admit to yourself that you are part of the problem. When you do that it will be easier to stop this cycle and move on to getting help for them and yourself.

Support groups are a powerful tool and one that shouldn’t be discounted. When a loved one is an alcoholic it can cause emotional damage for you. Finding a support group will help you to identify the problems in your life that are a result of the addiction.

Above all else it takes a strong person to stop this cycle of enabling. You will be tempted to rescue them when they get in trouble, you will be tempted to be the hero, but when you overcome that temptation you will see that you are really helping the person you love more than you ever have before.

When they are ready to admit that they have a problem and they are ready to enter recovery that’s when you can become their rock again. Make it clear when you stop enabling and rescuing them that you will be there when they are ready with open arms to help them in any way you can.