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Stop Financially Enabling and Become Part of the Solution

Financial Enabling Allows the User to Keep Using

Financially EnablingWhen a loved one is addicted to drugs and alcohol, it is emotionally draining—and sometimes financially, as well.[1] It’s difficult to know what to do in a situation like that. You want to support them, but at what point are you enabling them? They look to you for money to feed their addiction, and in a pit of guilt, you fork it over. How do you let go of financial enabling yet stay close?

To keep the peace, you may be giving your loved one money or doing them favors.1 You may assume—or hope—that this drug or alcohol use is just a phase.1 You may believe that your loved one’s responsibilities are also your own and feel the need to rescue them from difficult situations.1 The chances you give them add up to too many.1 You’re acting out of love and concern to protect your loved one from experiencing the full consequences of their actions.1 However, you are prolonging their addiction instead of encouraging them to accept help.1

When You Stop Financially Enabling, You Help the Addict and Yourself

Offering help isn’t always easy. It requires communication and interaction that is different from the norm.1 However, you also need to take care of yourself.1 The healthier you are mentally and physically, the more you can help your loved one.1 Attend support groups for loved ones of addicts.1 Take part in the family program at your loved one’s rehabilitation center.1 Seek family counseling, and individual counseling, as well.1

While you may have spent the majority of your savings to help protect your loved one from harm, you need your own financial recovery plan.1 Speak with a financial counselor or a life coach.1 Attend a money management seminar and read books to repair your finances.1

Tools to Support Financially without Enabling

Still feel the need to help your loved one financially? There are new tools that allow you to do so in a healthy way.1 Prepaid debit cards offer loved ones financial support and allow their spending to be monitored.1 The card does not work in bars, liquor stores, strip clubs, casinos, and other risky establishments.1 The card also does not allow cash-back.1 Instead, it allows your loved one to purchase the food and personal hygiene items they need, while teaching them basic finance skills all over again.1

While it isn’t your loved one’s fault that they have an addiction, it is their responsibility to manage their illness.1 How you interact with them can steer them towards responsibility or further into addiction.1 It’s tough love. Emotional pleas and logic aren’t effective with addicts.1 Their empathy and judgment are impaired by the substances they abuse.1 When your loved one ignores your rules and expectations, hurting themselves and others in the process, it’s time to stop supporting their habit.1 No more financial support—no money, no car, no phone, no anything that can be sold for drugs.1

Enforce your boundaries with them.1 Be persistent and consistent. To help further, stage an intervention and involve a treatment center.1 You need to send a clear message that you are no longer able to enable them or to rescue them.1 Their habits will be much more difficult to maintain.1 They will lash out with heart-wrenching pleas, threats, guilt-trips, and manipulation, but you need to remember one thing: you are helping them more by not giving in.1 The key to their recovery is for you to stop enabling.1 They’ll understand one day that this means more than money: it’s love.1 Your healthy support is so important to their recovery.1



[1] Sack, D. (2013, June 17). Financing Addiction: Stop Enabling and Help Your Loved One Get Treatment. PsychCentral. Retrieved October 3, 2013, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2013/06/stop-financing-addiction/

One Comment

  • Steve

    October 19, 2013, 12:58 am

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article.

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