Recovering from years of regular, chemically dependent, substance abuse is hard. Your loved one knows that there was never any promise recovery was going to be easy. Being part of their support system, we’ve learned how to show them compassion, empathy, and love, when they are struggling. Wanting to support and encourage them, we can easily get lost in enabling. Once we learned of our loved one’s addiction to substances we became conscious of how we might have enabled this behavior. Did we know there was a problem and never said anything? Did we buy alcohol for them when they suffered withdrawals? Did we drink with them to soothe our own nerves? Committed to their commitment to sobriety we resolved not to enable them anymore but support them within healthy boundaries.
Enabling means giving our loved one the means to continue to do something. For recovery, enabling could mean allowing a loved one to complain, fantasize, participate in euphoric recall, or get stuck in a negative cycle. Though it is not our responsibility or within our ability, to change how our loved one thinks, feels, or behaves, it is our responsibility to meet them in a structured way.
Addiction or alcoholism supplied our loved ones with a constant flow of euphoria, produced by dopamine in the brain. Without substances, it is easy for our loved ones to get stuck in a rut. Everything can become difficult, unmanageable, and overwhelming without a moment’s notice. We remind our loved one’s to be grateful for their recovery and that tomorrow is a new day that doesn’t need to be worried about until it arrives. Trying to help them stay positive, we offer them a positive perspective.
Compassion is about offering someone sympathy because we understand their struggles. We might not understand what recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is like, but we do understand how hard some of life’s challenges can be. We also know how important it is to learn how to solve our problems on our own. If our loved one seems to resort to more struggle than solution, we can lovingly and compassionately encourage them to remember they need to take action in their lives. They are capable of making decisions and making moves now that they are sober. Enabling them would mean continuing to listen to them describe their tough time without helping them reach a conclusion.
Aurora Recovery Centre offers a multiphase program dedicated to showing men and women the way to lifelong recovery. For more information on our programs of treatment, call 1-844-515-STOP.