Addiction is often referred to as a family problem. Every member of the family is affected, and often parents are guilty of enabling a son’s addiction. However, most have no idea that they are doing it.
What Is Enablement?
Enabling a son who is addicted to drugs or alcohol means helping to make it possible for them to use their substance of choice. This is typically done unwittingly and often while there is intent to provide help. Unfortunately, these behaviors lead to a worsening of the problem.
How Do I Know if I’m Enabling My Son?
You may be asking, “How do I know if I’m an enabler?” Some forms of this very common family dysfunction include:
- Giving or lending money that will be spent on drugs or alcohol
- Making excuses
- Having drugs or alcohol in the house
- Doing the addict’s “dirty work” such as calling their school or workplace to say they’re sick
- Repeated attempts to “fix” the problem
- Giving too many chances to stop damaging behaviors
- Being in denial and pretending there isn’t a problem
Why Parents Enable
From the outside, it can be very difficult to understand why a parent would enable a son who is struggling with addiction. Yet, there are some specific reasons why. In many cases, the parent feels that the situation is out of control and uses certain enabling tactics in an attempt to gain control.
It’s also natural for parents to want to take care of their children. Under normal circumstances, offering money or help can be a kind and positive gesture. For an addict, this same behavior can cause an addiction to become worse. As well, parents ultimately want their children to like them. When conflict ensues with a son who is using drugs or alcohol, it can seem easier to accommodate their addiction than to take a proactive stance against it.
Stopping the Cycle of Enabling an Addict
Yes, there are ways to love an addict without enabling them. Boundaries are essential for dealing with a son who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. This means making it clear what behaviors are acceptable and what will not be tolerated. When boundaries are crossed, there must be follow-through and clear consequences. In other words, practice tough love! Being vigilant about sticking to boundaries is the best way to protect yourself during this challenging time. It also sends a clear message to your son that things will only change when they choose to get help.
Getting Help for Your Teen
It’s never wise to take a wait and see approach to drug or alcohol addiction. Over time, addictions only become more serious and harder to treat. If your son or daughter is showing signs of addiction, get help now. Our caring and supportive addiction specialists are waiting to hear from you.