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As a parent, how do you know if you are supporting recovery as opposed to enabling addiction?

Enabling has become a dirty word amongst families whose loved ones are struggling with addiction and seeking recovery. The goal to support rather than enable a loved one has become the ultimate challenge for the family. A family can say that they have done everything to help… but where is the line in the sand? As a community, how do weknow if we are supporting recovery or enabling addiction?

I do not want to profess that I understand the challenges of raising children or being a parent. However, I do understand the challenge and responsibility of molding young adult men into accountable and productive men in recovery.  This is no easy task, and, in a short six-month program, can be an incredibly tall order.

In my fifteen-year experience in this field, I have seen it all as it pertains to the sneakiness of active addiction.  Families have been blindly paying for their child to live in “trap houses,” parents drive their child into suspicious drug-infested areas of a city, or even, a parent unknowingly supplying money to purchase drugs.

I understand.  It’s tricky.  You begin to question yourself.  Do you allow this behavior to continue?  Do you ask them to leave? And the hardest question of all: what if they die? How exactly do you know if you are supporting recovery or making it easier for their addiction to thrive?

A basic tenet as it relates to your loved one: support recovery and not addiction. Every action you take, hold it to this test. Even if your child has been sober for a period of time, and you are not sure if you should intervene, ask yourself: am I supporting his/her recovery, or is this something he/she can handle as a grown adult?

So, what should you do? Well, keep it simple:

  1. Set clear and measurable boundaries that are binding. Threatening to kick someone out or not paying a bill, if you can’t actually do that, is a waste of everyone’s time.
  2. If the person is working and living on their own, paying any of their bills- unless clearly outlined in a budget- could be problematic. If the person is living at home, any money you supply means they have more money for drugs and alcohol.
  3. Watch what they do…not what they say. In other words, actions speak louder then words.
  4. In addiction recovery, we say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you try something three times and it does not work, it’s time to try something different.
  5. Recovery from addiction is a process, and love often blinds families. Seek guidance and ask for help from those you trust.

Important Facts to Remember:

  1. Addiction is a life-threatening disease that can be chronic; and, although can lay dormant for a period of time, will never go away.
  2. Addiction causes pain, and although it seems intentional, it is not.
  3. Addiction does notrespond to softness, as the disease is very manipulative and cunning. It doesrespond to hard line boundaries.

These simple tips can make active addiction and recovery a little smoother. If you need any help or want to run something by us, please send an email or give us a call.

To learn more about the author Ian Koch, MS, LCADC, CAS Surfside’s Executive Director please click here.

If you need information on Surfside or want to talk about how to get your loved one into addiction treatment get in touch with us below.