How to Stop Enabling an Alcoholic
By AlternativeRelief in Addiction
Enablers can be found in all aspects of our lives. Described as a person that supports, but does not encourage, a particular detrimental habit by someone else, enablers often do not realize they are enabling someone to behave the way they do, or they simply do not know how to stop enabling. If you find that are enabling an alcoholic to continue to use alcohol, it is important to find ways to stop the enabling and to understand that your decision to stop enabling is out of love and will show more love then to allow the continual habitual detriment to your loved one’s life. We need to learn how to help a drug addict who doesn’t want help.
As an enabler, I am sure you have felt, at times, that you cannot deny your loved one a particular habit as that would appear to be that you do not love or trust this individual. But, ultimately, by not practicing “tough love” and stop the enabling you may be doing more harm in the long term by continuing to support the negative habit. For alcoholics, the enabler is most often a spouse or a parent and these are the hardest relationships to express “tough love” as they are not naturally engrained to do so.
Learning to say “no” to the alcoholic in your life is the hardest step you will have to take. The first time you tell the person “no”, you can expect there will be negative feelings, threats and even some heartache. Understanding this is a normal part of the stopping the enabling process, you can more effectively prepare for the negativity that will arise. Keep in mind that you cannot control the alcoholic or force him or her to stop using alcohol. You can, however, stop supporting the alcoholism by way of removing your role as the person who enables the habit to continue.
If you frequently call schools or call employers to report that your loved one will not be in, this is a sign that you are an enabler. If you are often asked to loan money to the person that uses alcohol regularly, this is also a sign that you are an enabler. If the alcoholic has been involved in DWIs, or other legal matters associated with drinking, you probably are there to support and pay legal fees – also a sign that you are an enabler. To stop enabling the alcoholism, you must begin to say no to these requests and allow the alcoholic to find his own way in resolving his dilemmas or to make a decision to stop drinking altogether.
To no longer enable does not meet that you do not love your family member or friend. Instead, it shows that you have the greatest level of love by telling the person “no”. In the process, you are breaking yourself from a co-dependence that is probably building up and will, at some point, cause resentment in your relationship. Learn to say “no” to things that are supporting further drinking by the alcoholic and soon the alcoholic will find a new way to cope with their own alcoholism, possibly even turning to alcohol recovery programs.