Some people, known as co-dependents, act to protect the alcoholic or attempt to make the drugging stop in ways that at first seem to disable the drinking. But, paradoxically, the effect on the addict is the opposite. What usually happens is more drinking.
Enabling can take several forms, such as;
- Avoiding and shielding: Any behavior by the codependent covering up for, or preventing the abuser, or self from experiencing the full impact or harmful consequences of drug use.
- Attempting to control: Any behavior by the codependent performed with the intent to take personal control over the significant other’s drug use.
- Taking over responsibilities: Any behavior by the codependent designed to take over the abuser’s personal responsibilities, such as household chores or employment.
- Rationalizing and accepting: Any behavior by the codependent conveying a rationalization or acceptance of the significant other’s drug use.
- Cooperating and collaborating: Any assistance or involvement by the codependent in the buying, selling, adulterating, testing, preparing, or use of drugs.
- Rescuing and subserving: Any behavior by the codependent overprotecting the abuser and subjugating himself/herself.
PERSONALITY TRAITS OF ENABLERS
- Are merciless judges of themselves
- Are extremely serious about themselves
- Look for approval and recognition
- Rarely allow themselves to have fun
- Remain loyal even when loyalty is undeserved
- Have difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships
- Are never sure what is normal behavior
- Are extremely responsible or irresponsible
- Feel somehow different from others
- Tell unnecessary lies when truth would serve
- Tend to overreact to changes when they are powerless over the situation
- Tend to be impulsive without considering alternatives or consequences leading to loss of self esteem and feelings of loss of control.
Thus we have a combination of a dysfunctional enabler desperately trying to form or maintain a relationship with a disabled alcoholic or addict.
The game becomes a merry-go-round of denial and destruction.
Its not just a matter of saying ‘I’m not going to do that again’. You may have tried this several times.
The steps to recovery are;
- Awareness – That’s what this article is about
- Acceptance that you are enabling
- Admission that you are powerless over the alcoholic/ addict
- Action – Do something about the behaviour.
That’s what 12 Step family fellowships are all about.
- Some of these are;
- Al-anon / Alateen for family and friends of alcoholics
- Naranon or Narateen for family and friends of addicts
- Gam-Anon for Family & Friends of Gamblers
- Adult Children of Alcoholic (ACOA)
- S-Anon for partners and friends of sex addicts