When it comes to drug addiction, enabling is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Enabling perpetuates the addiction and often makes it worse. When family and friends enable a drug addict, recovery becomes nearly impossible. Much like trying to put out a fire, the addict needs to lose all of the resources that continue to let their life burn to ashes. This process of eliminating resources is very difficult for family and friends because providing assistance is a natural response of showing love to the person struggling.
Recovery from drugs and alcohol requires a sense of desperation to get well. The less an addict has and the more difficult their situation, the more willingness they have to get well. Examples of how to end the process of enabling a drug addict include no longer providing transportation, no longer paying for or providing housing, no longer providing financial assistance of any kind, and possibly not communicating with the drug-addicted individual until they get well. This sends the message to the loved one that helps them understand that they are not being supported until they are no longer using drugs or alcohol. If someone continues to support an individual struggling with their drug addiction or alcoholism, it is basically saying, “I support your lifestyle”, which ultimately contributes to their demise.
The term “tough love” is often used when talking to families about no longer enabling addiction to drugs and alcohol. It is extremely difficult to love someone enough to let them experience their consequences. However, if enabling is not stopped, it could result in a drug addict or alcoholic being ‘loved’ to death. Whether a loved one is battling drug addiction or alcoholism, they need to be placed in a position of desperation and realize the only way they will get better is if they do so on their own. This desperation can only come from experiencing the consequences of their drug addiction or alcoholism.