How To Stop “Enabling” a First Responder Who Is Addicted

By Safe Call Now Admin Staff

Addiction is a powerful disease. It can change the way a first responder behaves or feels. It can also do considerable damage to the body. Its effects can even spread to the family members around the first responder struggling with addiction. A loving, supportive family can be warped into a structure that assists in sustaining substance abuse. That’s why it’s important to know what enabling is, how to identify when you’re enabling and what you can do to provide the support your loved one truly needs.

What is Enabling?

When you hear someone talk about enabling addiction, they’re describing behavior that encourages continued substance abuse. This can be as obvious as loaning someone money when you know they will use it on drugs or alcohol, but enabling can take other more indirect forms. In fact, any behaviors or attitudes that simply allow addiction to continue can be viewed as enabling. According to some studies, nearly 90% of the people estimated to be struggling with addiction are in denial about their problem, and enabling can play a significant role in perpetuating their delusions.

Identifying Addiction Enabler Behavior

Some examples of behaviors that sustain addiction may include:

  • Blaming negative behaviors on others and not the addiction itself
  • Helping with tasks or activities that your loved one should be able to handle alone
  • Ignoring or overlooking the problems caused by addiction
  • Making excuses to others to protect your loved one from dealing with repercussions
  • Picking up neglected responsibilities
  • Putting the addict’s needs before your own
  • Repressing emotions
  • Resenting your loved one for the addiction and associated behaviors

How to Stop Enabling and Start Helping

If you truly want to help, be prepared for some challenges. You may need to allow your loved one to face social or even legal consequences for him or her to realize the gravity of the situation. Reevaluate any financial support you are providing. Always encourage treatment for addiction and try to have serious discussions about the situation when he or she is sober. Approach the first responder from a place of love and concern and not from one of judgement. Al-Anon and other addiction support groups for families can help you cope with your struggles and connect you with others who are going through the same thing. These support systems can provide encouragement and stability as you try to help your loved one find healing.

If you, a loved one or someone you know needs help, call:

Safe Call Now:  24 Hour Confidential Hotline:  206-459-3020

For more information on the First Responders program:  Click here

Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-466-6352 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008