Parents have a ton of influence on their children, even if they don’t think they do. But, for children and teens who are struggling with addiction, how can a parent influence in the right way? Unfortunately, most parents of addicts don’t know they aren’t only not helping, but they’re making matters worse. Far too often, parents find out about how they were enabling addiction when it’s already too late. But, parents who are serious about helping their child heal from the effects of addiction will address issues in their own life. Fortunately, those that do can participate in recovery efforts themselves to provide optimal support for a recovering child.
What is Enabling Addiction?
Basically, enabling addiction means allowing a person to continue with their addictive behaviors. Most commonly, enabling involves preventing addicted individuals from experiencing the consequences of their own addictive behaviors. In all addiction experiences, one will eventually run into issues as a result of drug abuse and addiction. These consequences of addiction can be anything from drained savings accounts, divorces, and the loss of a job. While family and friends obviously don’t want their addicted loved ones to experience these consequences, they must in order to determine that they need help for addiction.
Without experiencing the consequences of addiction, one will likely never realize they need help for an addiction. Furthermore, they may never even wake up from the denial that they’re even addicted in the first place. And, since you can’t force someone to get help and live a life of recovery, we must let addicted individuals get to this place themselves. However, enabling them to protect them from experiencing consequences of addiction will negate them from ever reaching this conclusion.
5 Signs of Enabling Addiction
There are many ways a parent can enable a child’s addiction, even if they don’t even know it. Some of the common ways parents enable addiction include:
- Ignoring a child’s addictive behaviors, thinking that things are not that bad, or even denying that an addiction even exists.
- Not expressing emotions about a child’s addictive behaviors. Many parents may not discuss how they feel with their addicted child in order to protect the child/parent relationship.
- Covering for the addict. Often, enabling parents will lie for their addicted child so they may not experience the repercussions of their addictive behaviors.
- Blaming anyone but the addicted child for that child’s addictive behaviors. Sometimes, parents will blame the addiction of their child on themselves, another family member, or one of the child’s friends.
- Helping the addicted child before helping oneself. An enabling parent may provide for their addicted child’s needs or wants before providing for his or her own needs.
Help for Enabling Parents
Sadly, addiction doesn’t just affect the person struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. It often affects friends, loved ones, and family. So, if you’re a parent of a child struggling with addiction, it’s important to understand that you need help too. Support can aid parents in identifying enabling behaviors so they may learn to exercise new boundaries. This way, they can enable their child’s recovery rather than their addiction.