Inaction is Enabling. Why Doing Nothing Doesn’t Help.

Curtailing enabling behaviors does not require complete inaction on our part.

We often confuse doing anything for enabling, while what enabling covers are only those actions of ours that make it easier for an alcoholic or addict to continue using.

  • We do not enable when we take steps towards getting someone into treatment.
  • Running an intervention is not enabling, it is a proactive and positive step towards a solution.

We are told that the alcoholic needs to come to terms with their own addiction, needs to decide for themselves when and where to turn for help.

Baloney!

Waiting for an addict to decide for themselves to get help is nothing more than inactive enabling. The addict wants to be left alone to drink or drug, they want nothing more than that! Which would be fine, of course, if that was their decision alone, if we didn’t care for them, and if their actions did not have profound and negative implications for our own quality of life.

But we do love them, we live with them, and when they abuse drugs or alcohol, even if they consider it a matter of personal choice, they harm those that must live with them in deep and sometimes lasting ways. Does an alcoholic have the right to subject children in a household to drunkenness, poor role modeling, drunk driving, abuse etc.? Does their personal decision to drink affect them alone?

Family has a right to get involved, inaction is enabling.

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Curtailing enabling behaviors does not require complete inaction on our part.

We often confuse doing anything for enabling, while what enabling covers are only those actions of ours that make it easier for an alcoholic or addict to continue using.

  • We do not enable when we take steps towards getting someone into treatment.
  • Running an intervention is not enabling, it is a proactive and positive step towards a solution.

We are told that the alcoholic needs to come to terms with their own addiction, needs to decide for themselves when and where to turn for help.

Baloney!

Waiting for an addict to decide for themselves to get help is nothing more than inactive enabling. The addict wants to be left alone to drink or drug, they want nothing more than that! Which would be fine, of course, if that was their decision alone, if we didn’t care for them, and if their actions did not have profound and negative implications for our own quality of life.

But we do love them, we live with them, and when they abuse drugs or alcohol, even if they consider it a matter of personal choice, they harm those that must live with them in deep and sometimes lasting ways. Does an alcoholic have the right to subject children in a household to drunkenness, poor role modeling, drunk driving, abuse etc.? Does their personal decision to drink affect them alone?

Family has a right to get involved, inaction is enabling.

Don’t Enable…Do Help

I hear a lot of true sad stories about people who have had enough of addiction or alcoholism, finally want to get better, but who just don’t have the money they need to get into even the lower cost rehabs right away. They may be eligible for some subsidized care, but with waiting lists as long as two months, this is pretty far from ideal; and a story I get a lot is, "My family has had enough of me, and they won’t help me anymore".

Which I can understand! When we are using and abusing, we tend to do things that force our families away. We burn our bridges, lie, cheat and steal one too many times, and they just get fed up. And they don’t want to enable the abuse either!

And it’s true:

  • When they let us live rent free in the home, getting high in the basement, that doesn’t help us get better.
  • When they give us money for drugs or alcohol when we get desperate…that doesn’t much help either.

They are taught that the only way that they can truly help us to change our ways is to stop enabling, and to start giving a little tough love. And it’s true too, and tough love can help. But tough love gets a little too tough when we finally reach the point when we can no longer deny the extent of the problem, when we accept that things are out of control and when we realize that to have any chance at a better life; we are going to need some help.

When we reach that point and we come pleading for a bit of money for our treatment, turning us away is awfully hard, has nothing to do with enabling or otherwise and just keeps too many of us out of treatments that could really get us up out of the mess we’ve made of things.

We may not deserve it, but we’ll make it up to you once we’re better. You don’t have to give the money to us either, we can understand how that might make you feel a little uncomfortable…pay the treatment center directly.

You won’t regret it.

I hear a lot of true sad stories about people who have had enough of addiction or alcoholism, finally want to get better, but who just don’t have the money they need to get into even the lower cost rehabs right away. They may be eligible for some subsidized care, but with waiting lists as long as two months, this is pretty far from ideal; and a story I get a lot is, "My family has had enough of me, and they won’t help me anymore".

Which I can understand! When we are using and abusing, we tend to do things that force our families away. We burn our bridges, lie, cheat and steal one too many times, and they just get fed up. And they don’t want to enable the abuse either!

And it’s true:

  • When they let us live rent free in the home, getting high in the basement, that doesn’t help us get better.
  • When they give us money for drugs or alcohol when we get desperate…that doesn’t much help either.

They are taught that the only way that they can truly help us to change our ways is to stop enabling, and to start giving a little tough love. And it’s true too, and tough love can help. But tough love gets a little too tough when we finally reach the point when we can no longer deny the extent of the problem, when we accept that things are out of control and when we realize that to have any chance at a better life; we are going to need some help.

When we reach that point and we come pleading for a bit of money for our treatment, turning us away is awfully hard, has nothing to do with enabling or otherwise and just keeps too many of us out of treatments that could really get us up out of the mess we’ve made of things.

We may not deserve it, but we’ll make it up to you once we’re better. You don’t have to give the money to us either, we can understand how that might make you feel a little uncomfortable…pay the treatment center directly.

You won’t regret it.