There has been a rash of crimes by a well known gang of enablers. They often swoop into a crisis and derail reality by helping their loved one to avoid the consequences of his or her actions. These enablers interfere in the natural process of life.
According to the Hazelden/Betty Ford Clinic, “Enabling behavior, simply put, shields people from experiencing the full impact and consequences of their behavior. Enabling is different from helping and supporting in that it allows the enabled person to be irresponsible.” Have you seen any of the Ten most wanted enablers lurking around your home?
Oliver The Obsessed
Oliver is afraid to let go, because his loved one’s life would simply unravel. Maybe their life needs to fall apart, and the sooner the better. Oliver might be helped if he read ROR detachment section to find balance.
Are you an Oliver? Do you spend all your time thinking about fixing someone else’s substance abuse? Remember Obsession is a perfume, not a expression of love. Obsessing over anything or anyone is not healthy.
Victoria The Victim
Victoria feels powerless, but she has no clue how to change. Meanwhile, she continues to deny others their consequences because she doesn’t like to watch loved ones suffer. She pities everyone, but most of all she pities herself. A great article for her would be What Is Setting Boundaries?
Are you a victim like Victoria? Do you spend your time wondering how everything became such a mess? How your life fell apart and keeps falling apart? Do you sit and pray and wish things were different?
Collin The Controlling
Collin knows who’s been to meetings and who hasn’t. In fact, he knows everything about his loved one’s life so he can be sure it is going his way. Unfortunately, in doing so, he is robbing loved ones of their right to learn from their mistakes.
A good mantra for Collin is, “Everything is going according to plan, it just isn’t my plan.” Collin can try looking for a support group in our family support section.
Are you a Collin? Do you need to be in charge? Does your loved one often have to tell you, “I got this,” or “You are suffocating me?” You may be trying to control the situation.
Nancy The “Not My Son” Mom
Nancy just can’t accept the truth and allows her child to continue unacceptable behaviors. Her child is causing real harm to themselves and others, yet Nancy can’t allow any version of her child than the one she has created. It would be comforting to Nancy to know she, as a parent, is not alone. She might read our parenting articles for support.
You might be a Nancy if…a look of utter disbelief cross your face when a neighbor, teacher, or total stranger tells you things about your son or daughter you not like. Do you ignore, deny, and refute the facts of your child’s problems?
Lionel The Liar
Lionel lies about his life at home because he doesn’t want anyone to know what’s really happening. He pretends what his loved one does is ok, but it isn’t. Learning to tell the truth might be easier for Lionel if he reads some articles in the ROR addiction basics section to learn how the disease of addiction works.
Are you like Lionel, caught in the lying game? After a loved one’s a late night of poor choices, do you call his or her boss and tell “little white lies” to cover for him?
Patty The Preventor
Patty enjoys listening to her loved ones regale her and others with the many stories of how she saved the day with her ability to to see what was coming and prevent it.
Are you a Patty? Do you tirelessly scan the horizon of your loved one’s life to prevent potential disasters so your loved one doesn’t have to face natural consequences of their actions?
Brad The Bail Bondsman
Brad is the one everyone calls at any hour when an arrested. He scrambles out of bed and runs to the jail, bail money in hand, to free his “innocent” loved ones.
Little does Brad know, people in recovery from substance abuse often face reality only when sitting in a jail cell alone. Do you allow your loved one the pain of facing reality? Could you give your loved one that precious gift? Letting others go is difficult and you will need support. A group, a therapist, and a program can all help when you’re ready.
Franny The Fixer
Franny, after a sleepless night, creates spreadsheets with bullet points outlining the possible solutions to give to her loved ones. She often shows up unannounced to do laundry, cook a meal, or clean a bathroom because her loved ones fail to do so. Franny feels she and she alone is the only one who can fix a crazy situation.
Perhaps Franny could give herself permission to take care of herself. She can read our self care section to find calm in the storm of addiction.
Benny The Banker
Benny runs to the bank to cover bad checks. He also pays bills that were due so the power, water, or cable of a loved one won’t be turned off. He knows his loved one’s account numbers by heart. Benny keeps paying the rent while his loved one keeps abusing drugs. He keeps going further and further into debt because he’s so afraid his loved one will end up on the street.
Are you a Benny? Do you:
- Loan money to a loved one who is always “down on his luck,” or “just can’t catch a break?”
- Co-sign for cars you have to pay for but will never drive?
- Often feel as though the only reason your loved one contacts you is to get money from you?
Does your helping making possible activities you don’t want to support?
Betty The Babysitter
Betty’s adult children expect her to babysit. In fact, they don’t even ask anymore. They simply let her know when they need her. Or they show up, unexpected with kids in tow. When Betty first objected, her kids made her feel guilty. They accused her of not wanting to spend time with her grandchildren. Now she feels like a prisoner in her own family.
Like Betty, when your loved one is “so stressed out by the kids and life” and wants to “blow off a little steam,” do you ride in like the cavalry to babysit and take over all childcare? Are you made to feel guilty or manipulated if you say no. Are you bullied until you concede? Be sure to read ROR’s parenting articles for support.
Enabling And Addiction
Loving others is confusing when substance use disorder is in their life. It’s also difficult to understand when you are an adult child of an alcoholic (ACoA) with children of your own to parent and save. Living with family dysfunction that results from substance misuse isn’t a crime; it’s a painful reality for millions of Americans.
Enabling often becomes the driving force in relationships where substance misuse is causing problems. If you and your loved ones are caught up in this web, have hope. Things can improve and you can find a new way to live without enabling others.
Remember enabling does not help, and only delays your loved ones from getting the help they so desperately need. Act today to stop this crime wave. While we speak about the “crime wave” in a metaphoric, joking way, the destructive impact of enabling is very real. Start helping yourself now. Enabling is a sign of co-dependency, which can be treated. Find therapists, recovery programs, and support groups near you at Recovery Guidance.