Being a good friend or family member is important, but sometimes delivering some good old fashioned tough love is equally essential. When someone you love faces an alcohol addiction, the first thing you want to do is leap to their rescue, but too many times the rescuer becomes the enabler to their loved one’s habit.
What is an Enabler?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an enabler is someone who always bails the alcoholic out, trying to make the problem easier by hiding the evidence.
If you want to help, pour on the tough love and stop sending vibes to the alcoholic that tell them it’s okay to drink. The following is a list of four steps you can take to avoid enabling an alcoholic in your life:
#1: Stop Paying for Their Mistakes
Your best friend called you for money because they found a bed in jail for the second time this month. Are you really going to give it to them again?
Stop paying your daughter’s fines. Let her suffer the consequences when she loses her license for that DUI she’s headed for.
Stop giving your son the money to pay his bills when you know that he’s been handing over his paychecks to the bartender.
Do you see the pattern? You keep bailing them out, so why would they have any desire to stop?
#2: Stop Making Excuses for Them
How many times are you going to call your husband out of work because he’s too sick to go in when you clearly know he’s suffering from his usual daily hangover?
Your friend called and asked how things are going, and you tell her that everything’s great, but you don’t tell her that your husband is out cold on the floor next to you from another one of his drinking sprees.
What about that fight you had last night? Was that one your fault, too? How many times have you said, “He’s really a great guy, it’s just the alcohol that makes him like this”?
Keep on making those excuses, and he’ll keep on swallowing those drinks.
#3: Stop Giving Second Chances
There’s a second chance, and then there’s second, second, second, second chances. Quit thinking this will be the last time. No matter what they say, it will happen again if they haven’t pursued real help. If you bail them out once, the chances you’ll be bailing them out a second and third time are highly probable.
Again, by giving more than one second chance, you enable them to believe that their behavior is acceptable, and if you forgive once, you’ll forgive again.
#4: Start Taking Care of You
If your loved one can’t live without alcohol, you can’t fix the problem for them, but you can fix the problem for you. While you’re spending all that time enabling, you’re neglecting yourself; adding stress, fear, and the potential for future depression.
It’s time for you to start working on yourself. Find a support group that’ll keep you from enabling. In a group setting, you’ll meet people who are faced with the same battles. And if you’re interested in qualified help, talk to a substance abuse treatment professional.