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Am I Enabling My Loved One's Opioid Addiction?

If you know and care about someone who is struggling with drug addiction, it's extremely difficult to simply stand by and watch them destroy their life. But in our efforts to help others, we might inadvertently perpetuate the cycle of drug abuse. It's not easy to admit (or even recognize) when you're enabling someone with a substance use disorder. In order to truly support them and care for our own needs, however, it's crucial that we come to recognize the signs of enabling and take steps to avoid those behaviors in favor of those that will truly support your loved one.

What Is Enabling?

It's not easy to define enabling; you may have a loose idea of what it is, but this concept might not encompass every behavior that falls under this category. Generally speaking, enabling is anything that shields someone else from the consequences of their behavior. Many addiction experts and family members would say that you enable your loved one when you do anything for them that they're capable of doing themselves. That could theoretically apply to anything from giving them a place to stay or providing them with financial support to ignoring their behavior or lying on their behalf.

Typically, enabling is a response to fear, shame, guilt, or the desire to protect your loved one from harm. These are usually good instincts, but the enabling behaviors that result from those instincts actually keep the individual from taking responsibility for their addiction and how it impacts others. If you have trouble determining whether something you're doing could be considered enabling, ask yourself: is this going to keep my loved one from being accountable for their actions?

Signs You Might Be Enabling Your Loved One's Opioid Addiction

Now that you have an introduction to enabling, it might be helpful to see some specific examples of enabling in action. Enabling behavior can differ from situation to situation and it could be a factor in your other relationships (even those with no addiction involved!). When applied to relationships wherein one person could benefit from medication-assisted opioid treatment, in particular, enabling might look like:

  • Cleaning up their messes
  • Calling their employer if they're unable to work
  • Ignoring intolerable behavior
  • Making excuses for drug use
  • Lying to others on their behalf
  • Allowing them to use drugs at your residence (or using drugs with them)
  • Providing them with shelter or money without boundaries
  • Offering emotional support while they're in active addiction
  • Avoiding confrontation or difficult conversations
  • Protecting them from legal or financial trouble
  • Taking over household responsibilities
  • Feeling superior or resentful

How to Stop Enabling and Start Supporting

Just like we should remove the shame and stigma from those who suffer from addiction, it's important to remember that enabling doesn't make you a bad person. In fact, most enabling behavior comes from a good place. The problem is that enabling the choices of someone living in active addiction will only allow them to continue on this path while discouraging them to actually seek out help.

As such, you'll need to recognize those enabling behaviors in yourself and in others. Once you can identify the ways in which you've enabled your loved one, you can make positive changes to protect your own needs (like through therapeutic treatment) while truly encouraging the person you care about to seek opioid dependence treatment.

While there are all kinds of drug addiction clinics available for opioid abuse, methadone treatment centers are considered to be among the most effective. Although methadone is a drug in itself, it's one that's proven to be extremely beneficial for many opioid addicts. While there were 750,000 methadone prescriptions written for pain relief in 2008, methadone treatment centers will utilize this substance to ease the effects of withdrawal and alleviate the euphoric symptoms associated with opioid use and abuse. For this reason, it may be advantageous for you to learn more about how methadone treatment centers can assist your loved one during their recovery process.

Recognizing the signs of enabling, prioritizing your own needs, and encouraging treatment can go a long way in allowing your loved one to get the help they deserve. For more information on the methadone treatment center Tucson families turn to, please contact us today.

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