What Is Your Role in Your Loved One’s Addiction?

What Is Your Role in Your Loved One's Addiction?The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence considers alcoholism and drug addiction a “family disease.” When one family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the entire family suffers. The role each loved one plays in the addiction process can have either a negative or positive impact. Family members can become enablers to the addiction or they can be a catalyst for change in the addict’s life. Understanding how each person contributes to the addiction can help loved ones make personal changes that will increase the chances of recovery success.

Family Members Who Enable Addiction

People who enable their loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction may not realize they are part of the problem. Enablers are those who allow their addicted loved one to depend on them and prevent the addicted loved one from taking responsibility for his or her own actions. Enablers feel that by protecting the addicted loved one they are keeping the situation under control. If you think this may be your role in your loved one’s addiction, consider these common characteristics of those who enable:

  • Can handle a crisis but fall apart over trivial events
  • Are overly conscious of the feelings of others but repress personal feelings
  • Have a higher rate of stress-induced illness, such as ulcers, headaches, colitis, depression, arthritis, cancer and autoimmune diseases
  • Are addicted to approval comments like “how do you do it?” or “we couldn’t do it without you!”
  • Adapt to the addictive behaviors by ignoring evidence of problems, warnings from others, threats, and other red flags of addiction

If you find yourself continually lending the addict money, letting him borrow your car, covering for his absences at work, or making excuses to others about his behavior, you are most likely enabling the addiction.

Family Members Who Help an Addict Recover

Those who have addicted loved ones can also be the most powerful agents for change in a person’s life. This is especially true for those who recognize they have been enabling their loved one’s behavior and want to make positive changes. Family and friends who can be agents for change in an addicted person’s life are those who see the problem for what it is and understand what they must do to hold their loved one accountable. Often this realization comes after an incident, emergency or some other event that causes the situation to become unmanageable. When this happens, one of the best ways to help an addicted loved one is by using the services of a professional interventionist. A professional interventionist works with families to plan, rehearse and carry out an intervention. An intervention helps both the family members and their addicted loved one communicate in proactive ways that will help the addict get into treatment. Interventionists can also help families find and arrange for admission to treatment programs immediately after intervention.

Finding Help for Addiction

If you are part of a family that has been affected by addiction, you are not alone. Understanding your role and what you can do to bring about change in your loved one’s life is the first step. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator. We are ready to answer your questions about addiction and help you find an appropriate treatment program for your unique situation.