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Enabling vs helping

Old 02-21-2007, 07:15 AM
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dil
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Question Enabling vs helping

I've been doing some online reading but am getting mixed messages. What is the difference between enabling and helping an A?
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Old 02-21-2007, 07:23 AM
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Super question dil..

Check this out



What is enabling?
Enabling is doing for others what they are capable of doing for themselves. When we enable addicts, we prevent them from experiencing the consequences of their own actions. When we do this, we discourage them from learning from their own mistakes. This, in turn, prevents them from realizing they have a problem.
The addict has made drugs the focus of their daily activity, letting responsibility and common sense fall by the wayside. When we continue to do even the simple things for an addict we care about, little is left to motivate them to enter or rediscover their recovery?
How do we enable?
We enable addicts by doing things such as:
Paying their bills, making car payments, covering bounced checks, paying bail, paying traffic tickets;
Making excuses for their behavior, changing appointments, calling employers on absenteeism, writing late or absentee excuses to schools, covering up for missed family functions;
Providing the addict with money, clothing, housing and food.
Caring for the addict's family by allowing them to live with us, taking their children to school, babysitting, etc.
What does enabling do for us?
Enabling gives us a false sense of control. We do what society tells us a "good" father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter or friend should do, but we are not getting the results we desire. We feel frustrated and resentful. Because the addict's behavior does not change, we think we have failed.
Our actions, done with the best of intentions, have back-fired.
What is the difference between helping and enabling?
We need to look deep inside ourselves to determine the difference between helping and enabling. "How do I feel when I offer my help? What's in it for me?" Checking your motives will help you decide when you are truly helping or when you are enabling.
Can you enable an addict (or anyone) who is not using?
We can enable anyone, using or not. Our enabling behavior patterns are not directed solely toward the addict and/or the addict's sobriety. Enabling deprives anyone of experiencing the consequences of their own behavior.
Remember, when taking responsibility for our own behavior each one of us must find our own path. Experience teaches us that it is useless to lay out a path for someone else to follow.
*
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Old 02-21-2007, 07:40 AM
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dil
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Thank you so much for that! My mom and I were discussing my A MIL and she said that providing the necessities (food, shelter) isn't enabling, but I thought it was cause it's preventing them from hitting rock bottom and that they're not really suffering that much cause they can continue their drinking and still have a home and food.

Is that from a book?
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Old 02-21-2007, 07:52 AM
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Thank you, Elizabeth1979. But I admit I'm still confused... and this IS society's fault, I think. We are taught to "do unto others" from a very early age. Some of our actions (right or wrong) we have believed to be acts of kindness. It is very hard to tell the difference sometimes.

Case in point... My AH would pass out for the night wherever he landed. In the early days of dealing with his drinking, I would try to wake him to get him into the bed. He couldn't possibly get a decent night's sleep on the bare floor, I told myself. Then I stopped doing that. I left him on the floor. But before I would go to bed, I would cover him with a blanket.

Now I could be wrong... but to me... this was an act of kindness.
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:00 AM
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dil
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But is he following "do unto others" Is the way he's treating you the way he would want to be treated? I don't know much about this (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) but isn't it a different set of 'rules' when dealing with an addict?
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:02 AM
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DIL... providing food and shelter is a grey area for many of us, and I AM getting mixed viewpoints on this. Just last night in my group therapy, two parents said that they had gone to the grocery store and purchased for their daughter a few items which they considered to be the "bare necessities." The counselor said he didn't see anything wrong with this.

An idea that comes to my mind for you to try... find out the address and phone number of the nearest shelter and soup kitchen (like Salvation Army, or something). Give this information to your AMIL. This way, you are helping her, but you are not "doing" for her. You MIL may slowly come to the realization that things in her life have become out of control.
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:08 AM
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IMO by purchasing food, that frees up what little money she has to buy alcohol, which really defeats the purpose - KWIM?
AMIL is aware of the options available to her (she used to head up an agency that dealt with family issues including alcohol and substance abuse) She just is too proud to accept help.
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:12 AM
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i'm sorry to not have anything to contribute. but i'm a brand-newbie and i'm confused about the abbreviations. what does MIL stand for? i just can't figure it out.

maybe in a year or so i'll know enough myself to give answers. i hope.

alison
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:14 AM
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MIL - Mother in law
I'm new too, just cause you don't have answers, doesn't mean you don't have an opinion!
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:35 AM
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DIL... No... he was not practicing the "do unto others" rule. As you know, we cannot control or dictate how others act or what they do. It's hard to be kind to the alcoholic/addict. We are so angry much of the time, that we usually focus on retaliation or ways to stop them from using their drug of choice. I just try to always be kind, no matter how he acts towards me. At the end of the day, I am accountable to only myself and my God.

First and foremost, you must come to accept that their actions and behaviors are not in your control. If your MIL is going to spend her money on booze, then there is absolutely nothing you can do about this to change her mind. Her change MUST come from within herself.

Many here will tell you that you would benefit from attending Al-Anon. I agree. However... since you are "new" to seeking help for your own behaviors and feelings, then I would suggest that you also check into whatever family programs might be available to you through your local rehab or treatment center. These programs are usually free to the family members or anyone who needs to LEARN about the disease. Personally, I don't think you can adequately and rationally face this unless you first have some knowlegde about the illness, itself. The treatment center will teach you everything you need to know. Then you can seek help for yourself by attending Al-Anon. This is just MY personal opinion, based upon MY personal experience.
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:57 AM
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I was so desperate and beaten down, I started it all in the same week - Al-Anon, therapy and education. You will find what works for you, the important thing is taking the first step.

With education came an understanding or awareness of what enabling is. Even if I do it, I am aware now and will question myself. It helps me figure out what I'm doing and why.

((()))
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:59 AM
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But I admit I'm still confused... and this IS society's fault, I think. We are taught to "do unto others" from a very early age. Some of our actions (right or wrong) we have believed to be acts of kindness. It is very hard to tell the difference sometimes.
I think what I was taught 'from an early age' is not what society taught me, in my case its what I was taught as a child. I was raised in a disfunctional home and didn't learn how to be healthy.

The do unto others thing..
Lets talk about this.
I do not want to be told what to do, when, how much of it, and what will happen if I dont. Im an adult.
Adults in my life have the freedom to choose what actions they will make and thier choices are theirs.

By enabling, I was taking away a grown mans choices. I was also creating and perpetuating a very false sense of security....I was blocking the natural progression of consequences by coming right behind him fixing things. I wont specualte what that did to him, but I will tell you what it left me with.
Anger, disappointment, resentment, and hurt.

Enabling is not treating others the way I would like to be treated.
I hope others will give me the freedom to be who I am, not what they want for me. I hope others will allow me the logical consequences of my actions, so that I dont miss the lesson in them, continually repeating the same self-destructive patterns longer than necessary.
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Old 02-21-2007, 11:10 AM
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Great post, Elizabeth. It's what it boils down to - allowing another adult the dignity to live their own life. I am not a savior, though I am a kind and compassionate person.
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