How to support your addicted partner, rather than enable

There you are on the other side of an addict or
alcoholic. Maybe you've known about this addiction for a while, or maybe you've
just recently found out. Either way, you've got quite a bit of emotions going
on inside you. You might be angry, scared, resentful, depressed, and more.

It's not uncommon for the disease of addiction
to quickly break down any relationship. You've got one person struggling with a
disease, and often times you've got the partner struggling with enabling or
losing themselves in the relationship.

What does
enabling mean

Put simply, enabling is protecting someone else
from experiencing the consequences of their behavior. Enabling is doing for
them what they need to be doing for themselves.

Here's some examples.

Makes excuses for the words or actions of the

Gives money to the addict, when it’s not up to
them to “carry them”

Taking care of their problems like paying for
their DUI cost or their bills 

Repeated attempts to control the addict

Keeping everything a secret, walking on

Making excuses as to why your partner is an

What can
I do to be more supportive?

The first thing you may have
to do is sit down and have a real heart-to-heart conversation. You may have
already done this, but in case you haven't, sit down with your partner when he
or she is sober and clean. Let him know how much this is hurting you.

What can
we do?

Ask your partner, “What can we do?” This way
you're not dictating, and it allows for a discussion. It opens the door for
both of you to be able to share openly. You’re not coming at him/her with
judgment or vengeance. You’re coming calm, cool, and collected (as best as you
can). This doesn't necessarily mean things are going to be solved at this
moment. There's a very good chance that your partner doesn't want to make the
effort to get into recovery. (yet) Does this mean the relationship should
end? Not necessarily…but you will then begin a process of lovingly
detaching…because if you don’t, you’ll end up feeling like you are going
insane. (worried, checking his phone, searching for the booze/drugs, checking
up on him, etc.)

That drives many people
bonkers….all the while, their partner just isn’t at a point where he/she wants
to stop or can’t stop.

yourself involved in a support group

This brings me to the next point. If you are
with an alcoholic or addict, and he or she isn't really willing to get into
recovery, you may find some valuable support at a support group. This allows
you to be around other people who are in the same shoes. Perhaps their partner
or their loved one is an addict too, and they've probably learned some valuable
lessons they could share. It also gives you a place to share openly, and ask
the questions that you need.

Al-Anon is for loved ones of Alcoholics. Nar-anon
is for loved ones of drug addicts. Even if you can just make one meeting a week
or two meetings a month, it may do you good. At the very least, it can give you
hope that you can still have your life even if your partner isn't willing to
reach out for help right now. You can grow stronger, learn more about how to
support your partner and not enable, learn how to set and keep boundaries, and
perhaps even make a few friends. 

  • 1 Commentby Likes|Date
  • Great post, @dominica. So often, there is a very fine line between enabling and supporting, and knowing the difference can be a bit challenging, especially at first. But in time, people can educate themselves and become much better at support. This post is very helpful.
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