Wanting to help someone is usually considered a good endeavor. Not so when it comes to addiction. Parents who offer support, either financial or otherwise, to children struggling with substance abuse issues are actually serving to perpetuate the problem.
It can be extremely difficult for parents to say no to their children, especially when they see them suffering. It may seem that “helping them out” with food, money for rent, or transportation is the best thing to do so they don’t turn to crime or end up on the streets.
The pain of seeing your baby go through withdrawals might also be enough to overshadow the impact of aiding negative behavior. Enabling, however, is extremely destructive, and if left to continue, could prevent your child from seeking the help he so desperately needs, or worse – send him to an early grave.
Instead of enabling and reinforcing a decrepit state, parents need to empower their children to get better. Most addicts would not be able to continue in their addiction without resources provided by loved ones. By cutting them off, parents are essentially removing a source that allows the addict to continue down a path of destruction.
Many times enablers are co-dependent, meaning they get a feeling of being useful or important when supplying the addict with resources. It may help them feel in control when everything else around them is falling apart. But, being the rescuer does little to motivate addicts to seek the help they need.
How do you know if you are an enabler? If you turn a blind eye to bad behavior, blame your loved one’s addiction on other people or things, or help out because you are afraid of confrontation or the possibility that your loved one might abandon you, it may be time to seek professional assistance.