If you’re like most people, when your family and friends ask you for anything, you provide it. What you may not realize is that you’re giving them a bit too much help.
When it becomes a recurring thing, it should raise a few red flags in your head. You might be enabling an alcoholic. If you give that person money for groceries or bills, you’re giving them the ability to buy a few drinks.
There’s a fine line between helping and enabling. We can stop you from crossing over that line. Check out this guide to learn if what you’re doing for someone you love is causing more harm than good.
Don’t Be a Safety Net
When someone asks you for money for rent or bills, do you give it to them? Are you providing them with a place to stay? These are both examples of enabling an alcoholic.
You’re providing them with a safety net. They can stop going to work or get fired without worrying about their financial responsibilities because they have you to bail them out. This allows them to continue their behavior without meeting any real consequences.
We’re not saying that you should throw them out on the street. What we are saying is that you’ve got to set a few boundaries with them.
If you realize that you’re enabling an alcoholic spouse, it’s time to sit down with them and set some boundaries. Remember that boundaries are flexible.
If you give them a hard ultimatum like I’m leaving you if you don’t stop drinking, it will only cause a huge argument. Setting boundaries also isn’t one-sided.
Give your loved one a moment to plead their case and hear them out. You don’t want to let them talk you down, but you don’t want to be unreasonable either.
Don’t Help Them With Things They Can Do Themselves
Let’s say that your friend lost their license due to drinking. If they need a lift to an AA meeting or to work, it’s perfectly fine to give them a ride if it’s within your means. It would be against the law for them to take themselves.
What you shouldn’t do is call this rehabilitation center for them. Don’t do things for them that they can do alone. They should be the one to do the research that will allow them to get their license back.
They’re capable of searching through online want ads to find a job. If you do these things for them, you’re enabling them because you’re not allowing them to take the steps toward self-improvement on their own.
Don’t Make Excuses for Them
If you’re asking yourself, am I enabling an alcoholic, think back to the last time you made an excuse for them. If you called their work to tell their boss that they’ve got a stomach bug when in reality, they were hungover, you have your answer.
We understand that you don’t want to see them lose their job, but they have to face some consequences for their actions. You can’t keep making excuses for their behavior.
Stop Taking on Their Responsibilities
You’re only one person. You can’t go to work, cook dinner, do your own chores, your friend’s chores, watch your kids and their kids, and still keep your head on straight. You’ll burn yourself out!
You’ve got to take care of your own mental and physical health. Stop enabling an alcoholic, and make them take charge of their own responsibilities. You’re not a terrible person for doing so.
Don’t Loan Them Money
Your best friend has asked for your help with rent again. Of course, you don’t want to see them get kicked out of their apartment, so you do what any best friend would do. You write them a check.
This is enabling. You have no way of knowing what they’re actually going to spend that check on. You can still help them out but go with them to turn in their rent.
If they ask you for cash for groceries, take them to the store to get them. This way, you’re helping them, and you know what they’re using the money for.
Avoid Arguing With Them
You would think that getting mad at your loved one and snapping at them would help, but it does the opposite. If the only consequence they have to face for their actions is getting yelled at, well, that’s not a punishment at all.
A non-reaction is much more effective. An argument gives them an emotional out they can respond to. When you remain calm, they’re only left with their own thoughts.
Don’t Bail Them Out of Legal Trouble
When you get a phone call telling you that someone you love is in jail, your gut reaction is to go bail them out of the slammer right away. By doing so, you’re only enabling them, however.
They won’t have to face any consequences for what they did. You’re going to feel awful about it, but they’ll be much better off if you make them spend some time in jail.
Stop Enabling an Alcoholic
If you rush to bail your friend out of trouble as soon as they come up short on their rent, or they get thrown in the slammer, you might be enabling an alcoholic. They have to be able to face consequences for their actions.
You may feel awful about not helping them. It might ruin your relationship with them for good, but in the end, you’ll both be much better off.
If you’re looking for more ways to help your loved one through their condition without enabling them, we’ve got you’ve covered. Visit our blog for all the latest tips and tricks.