Many times when family and friends try to “help” alcoholics, they actually make their disease progression easier. This confusing phenomenon is known as enabling, which takes many forms, all of which have the same effect – the alcoholic avoiding the consequences of his or her actions.
Activation allows the alcoholic to happily continue his (or her) drinking ways, knowing that there is always someone there to save him from his mistakes, no matter how much he messes up.
What is the difference between helping and enabling?.There are many opinions and viewpoints on this, some of which can be found in the pages linked below, but here is a simple description:
To help means to do something for someone that he is unable to do himself. Activation means for someone to do things that they could and should do yourself. Activation simply creates an atmosphere in which the alcoholic can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior.
Are you an enabler?
Answer these 10 questions to help you decide whether or not your actions and reactions to the alcoholic are possible. Click the link above to take the Activation Self-Assessment Test. If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, at some point you have enabled the alcoholic to evade his or her own responsibility.
Instead of “helping” the alcoholic, you actually made it easier for them to get worse. If you answered yes to most or all of the questions, then not only have you turned the alcoholic on, but you have likely made an important contribution to the growing and ongoing problem, and chances are you have the disease yourself.
Face the consequences
As long as the alcoholic has his activation devices in place, he can easily deny that he has a problem – since most of his problems are “solved” by his fellow human beings.
Only when he is forced to face the consequences of his own actions will it finally sink how deep his problem has become.
Some of these decisions are not easy for friends and families of alcoholics..If the alcoholic drinks the money that should pay the electricity bill, he is not the only one living in a dark, cold, or muggy house. The rest of the family is about to suffer with him.
That makes it seem like the only option for the family to take the money earmarked for groceries and pay the light bill instead, as nobody wants to be without a utility. However, this is not the only option.
Taking the children to friends or relatives or even to a shelter and letting the alcoholic come home alone to a dark house is an option that protects the family and leaves the alcoholic face to face his Problem. Such decisions are difficult. They require “detachment with love”. But it’s love..
Unless the alcoholic is allowed to bear the consequences of his own actions, he will never realize how much his drinking has become a problem – for himself and those around him.
Often times, those closest to the alcoholic or addict believe that if they can get him to stop drinking or using drugs, all problems will be solved. You may try family intervention and many other tactics to “fix” the problem.
But many families find that even if the alcoholic or addict gives up and recovers, the problems persist. For families dealing with either an active or a recovering alcoholic, many resources are available to offer help and assistance with the difficulty. Many family members have found that joining Al-Anon family groups has completely changed their lives...