Studies have shown that the outcomes for the treatment of loved one are improved when the family gets help.
My name is Maureen McGurk and I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor. I work with families who are trying to understand and cope with their loved one’s addiction and are often in a state of confusion and turmoil. Usually, all their efforts to control and help have not been effective leaving them with feelings of hopelessness, anger, guilt, shame, fear, and many times, blaming themselves. It is difficult to understand the behavior of someone that is chemically (alcohol and drugs) dependent because it doesn’t make sense in light of the havoc it creates.
Often families will begin to enable, spontaneously and naturally, when the loved one they care about develops a chemical dependency. The concerned family member assumes that the caring and good intentions behind their actions will get the user to stop using chemicals. That’s what should happen. Unfortunately, the chemically dependent person has a system of denial and delusion that is strengthened, not diminished, by well-meaning attempts to remove or soften the inevitable damage caused by their use.
Enabling is any action by a concerned person that removes or softens the effect of a harmful consequence of the chemical use upon the user. Enabling prolongs the illness of addiction by hiding the symptoms (painful consequences) from the chemically dependent person.
Therapy can help the spouse, partner, or family member break the unhealthy behavior patterns that have developed as a result of trying to control and cope with the chemical dependency of the person you care about. Therapy can help you with the following:
- Gain a clearer understanding of the addiction and recovery process
- Identify your enabling behaviors and learn effective boundary setting
- Learn healthier coping skills so you can begin to take care of yourself even while coping with a chemically dependent family member
- Develop and practice healthy communication skills
- Develop Behavior Contracts for your adolescent
- Learn how to access support programs with other families suffering with the addiction of a loved one
- Learn where and how to help your family member get treatment for their chemical dependency