To enable is to be in denial about the true risks and the true dangers of one’s loved one’s addiction problem. An enabler is often someone who refuses to look at the truth of the matter of their loved one’s substance abuse problems.
Parents have it as their mission and their goal to care for and nurture their children. Parents put so much effort into raising their children right that they do not like to see when their kids manifest anything that might indicate that the parents did not succeed in the above. Parents hate it when their kids struggle. In fact, most parents would agree that they get more upset when their kids suffer than when the parents themselves suffer.
It is a very human manifestation to not want to observe something that one has put a lot of effort into to then fail. This is an area of non-confront for people, and that is totally normal. An adult child turning to drugs and alcohol and becoming addicted to those substances is perhaps one of the most blatant manifestations of failure possible. Becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol is a major slap in the face to parents who have put so much time and effort and love and nurturing into their kids. When a drug or alcohol addicted adult child reveals to their parents that they are abusing drugs and alcohol, this is the worst news that a parent could hear, except for maybe the news that their kid had died, and sadly drug and alcohol addiction very often results in that. When it comes to parents finding out about an addicted, adult child, they can do one of three things.
Three, Inevitable Parental Responses to an Addicted, Adult Child
There are essentially three, basic responses and mindsets that parents take on when they find out that their adult child is abusing drugs and alcohol. These are:
- Denial. Parents often fall into denial about their child’s drug problem. Denial is a simple refusal to accept or even begin to look at the true matters of a person’s drug use. Denial is an unwillingness to confront the actual truth of a situation or scenario that involves a level of unpleasant characteristics. Parents who are in denial about their adult child’s addiction will say things like, “It’s just a phase,” “He’s just looking for attention,” “It’s probably not as bad as she’s saying it is,” “Young people will do those kinds of things,” “We took drugs in the 70s, it’s just a brief phase,” etc. The problem is drug and alcohol abuse is about ten times worse now than it was forty or fifty or sixty years ago, and the facts on that do not lie. Being in denial is the second worst viewpoint to be in regarding parents’ addicted adult kids.
- Enable. This is the worst mindset that parents can possibly be in when it comes to having an adult son or daughter who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Being an enabler is simply an extension and an ongoing aspect of being in denial. However, a parent who has gone into enablement is now, whether they know it, has advanced from just being in denial to the point where they are enabling their addicted son or daughter and are actually helping them to go on being addicted to drugs and alcohol. When this happens, the parent will do things that they think are helping the addict when they are really actually just hindering them. They will give the addict food, water, money, possessions, a car, a phone, a place to stay, a job, etc, all with the false idea that they are helping the addict. Really, when a parent does this, they are just making the addict’s life that much easier so they can go on continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol.
- Tough Love. This is the only thing that parents can and should do when it comes to addressing an adult child who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Tough love is when you completely cut the addict off and do not provide any help or assistance to them at all except for when help would be immediately conducive to getting the addict into a treatment center for addiction. Tough love involves completely cutting the addict off so that they can actually hit their rock bottom and finally become willing to get help.
Having an adult child who is addicted to drugs and alcohol is heartbreaking and there is no mistaking that. Follow the above guide and you will be doing the best that you can do for them.