Unfortunately, many people in our lives are actually causing our situation to be worse rather than better and harder rather than easier. And specifically in the case of a substance abuse disorder, it is common for one’s friends to actually enable their addiction rather than helping them put an end to it and recover.
Enabling and Addiction
Enabling is a common behavior many individuals fall into when one of their friends or loved ones is suffering from an addiction. Whether a person means to or not, they may actually be encouraging another person’s substance abuse instead of encouraging them to seek help.
If you have decided to begin your recovery from addiction, it is important to consider who is really helping you and who may be holding you back. And if you haven’t, now is the time to ask yourself why and also to determine who in your life may be encouraging you to continue abusing dangerous substances.
Are My Friends Enabling My Substance Abuse?
According to the University of Pennsylvania Health System, a person can enable someone else’s drug use in a number of ways––without even knowing it. Ask yourself if your friends have ever participated in any of the activities listed below in order to determine if they may be enabling your substance abuse.
- Denial: Are your friends ignoring the problem or brushing it off like it’s no big deal?
- Using with the addict: Do they try to control your substance abuse by using with you, hoping they can watch out for you?
- Justifying: Are they justifying your substance abuse by saying you “deserve” to “relax” after work, etc.?
- Avoiding: Do they avoid the conversation or any problems you are experiencing just to keep things happy on the surface?
- Criticizing and being superior: Do your friends treat you like a child or constantly lecture you about your substance use without ever offering real solutions?
- Protecting your image: Do your friends lie to others for you about the severity of your problem in order to protect your image?
Some people enable someone else’s addiction because they don’t want them to stop using. These people often do this for a number of reasons, including wanting to feel superior to the addict or wanting the person to keep using with them. This can manifest in different ways.
- Downplaying the addiction: Does your friend tell you your substance abuse isn’t that bad, that there are people who are much worse off?
- Not doing what you’ve asked: If you’ve asked your friends to stop using around you, do they do it anyway?
- Making light of the situation or shaming: Do your friends make jokes about your decision to stop using, call you names, and make you feel bad for wanting to stop?
- Threatening: Have they ever said anything intimidating or bullying to get you to use, even if it seemed like a joke?
How Can I Make a Change?
Sometimes, a person wants to help their friend stop abusing drugs, but they are actually acting in ways that enable the abuse. If this is the case with someone you care about, it may be necessary to talk to them and to help them understand why these actions are not beneficial to your recovery.
In the case of people who do not want you to stop using, it may be time to end the relationship. Your recovery is more important than anything, and because you are at a fragile point in your life right now, the more you surround yourself with people who want you to recuperate, the better.
One of the best ways you can make a real change is to seek professional treatment. You can receive evidence-based practices that will strengthen your recovery and allow you to make better choices in the future. In addition, you can also attend therapy sessions with your friends and other loved ones in order to uncover and put an end to enabling behaviors (Wake Forest University).