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04.18.2018

Learning the Difference Between Helping and Enabling Substance Abuse

If you, or one of your loved ones, are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, this can be an extremely difficult obstacle to overcome. Often, there are underlying issues that have lead to the substance abuse, which need to be addressed. Once you have identified the underlying issues, you should begin thinking of ways to address these issues and create clearly defined steps to dealing with them. While many emotional and mental issues may be long term, they can still be improved. With time and effort, most issues can be worked through and their overall impact can be lessened. Dedication, productive activities, and positive behaviors will go a long way in helping to ease the issues and will eventually lead to a better mind set.

Differentiating Between Helping and Enabling

When attempting to overcome a substance abuse addiction, it is important to recognize the difference between trying to help someone and enabling them. Often, individuals with substance abuse issues may need financial assistance to fund their addiction. When they are unable to obtain drugs or alcohol they can experience server withdrawal symptoms or mental anguish. Of course, friends and loved ones do not want to see them struggle, so they often give in to their demands. This is a difficult issue to navigate. Withdrawals can be dangerous and life-threatening. Therefore, if their dependency is severe, it may be time for them to seek medical help. Addicts can also be enabled in other ways, such as loved ones ignoring their problem or normalizing it. It is important that you make sure the person knows that you care for them but you don’t approve of the damage they are causing to themselves.

Trying to help someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be a daunting task. Sometimes they will insist they don’t have a problem or they will try to conceal their substance abuse. Other times, they can push people away who want to help them because they aren’t ready to change. The most important thing you can do for this person is let them know that you deeply care for them and that you want to be a source of emotional support for them during this difficult period in their lives. You should avoid arguing with them or putting them down because this can cause them to sink into a deeper depression. If you are experiencing difficulty convincing the individual that they are valuable and it’s time to change, you may want to consult a health care professional for advice on how to successfully help the individual overcome their issues. If you or your loved one are ready to get help, counselors are available 24/7 at 800-737-0933

Listen to Podcasts
Season 3, Episode 31: 29 Years of Recovery w/ Andy V.