How To Not Enable Your Addicted Child
It’s the most gut-wrenching decision you may ever make—getting the call for help from your adult child and telling him or her, “No, we are not able to help you.” Even though he or she is an adult, and you know it’s the right choice, you still feel like your parent-card should be revoked for just the thought of turning their plea down.
You know that your continued ‘help’ is actually enabling your child’s addiction and that it has to come to an end for his or her own good. Still, knowing how to not enable your addicted child doesn’t make it easier, even though it’s in their best interest. Read on to find out how to continue loving and helping your adult child, while not enabling them in their addiction any more.
Statistics On Addiction In America
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 115 people a day die from an opioid overdose. These addictions include heroin, prescription pain relievers, cocaine, and now, more commonly, fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that the ‘economic burden’ of just prescription opioid misuse is about $78.5 billion a year. That figure envelopes things like healthcare, treatment, legal involvements, lost productivity and so much more.
Sadly, though, that does not come close to the emotional costs that families bear when they have an addicted family member. Every day, families have to make the choices about helping their loved ones without enabling their addictions, and the decisions they make in doing so bring them to places they never thought their hearts would have to go. The heartache that comes specifically to parents who want to know how not to enable their addicted adult children even has clinical naming: chronic sorrow.
Chronic Sorrow In Parents Of Adult Addicted Children
All too often, the parents of addicted adults find themselves suffering so much grief and loss as they watch their children’s lives slowly wither away, they find themselves in dire places as well. Initially, a concept researchers associate with the parents of children who suffer from disabilities, more and more research is focusing on the grief and sorrow parents of addicted children suffer when they are dealing with their child’s addiction.
For parents whose whole goal in life has been to be the anchor for their children, when addiction comes into play, they have to learn how to love their child while not enabling their addicted child’s addiction at the same time. This often includes the denying of physical, financial, or emotional support to their children in the name of their child’s best interest. And, while it truly is decision-making in the name of love, it brings heartache and sorrow to parents in levels they never dreamed they’d experience—certainly not when their children were adults.
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Support Groups Can Help You Not Enable Your Addicted Child
When parents have made the decision to no longer enable their adult addicted child, it will often require some practical steps to be taken to support both parents and their addicted children. One of the most important things parents can do when they’re taking steps to not enable their addicted child is to join a family support team themselves. When you don’t feel so alone in your situation, the empowerment and uplifting of others can help you when your resolve is low. It’s often hard to discern between enabling your child and loving your child; support groups will help you make those distinctions.
Boundaries Help To Not Enable Your Addicted Child
Additionally, set boundaries on your relationships with your child. Those boundaries need to be emotional, physical, and often financial as well. Remember that though still your children, they are adults and you need boundaries to protect your relationships. When you don’t want to enable an addicted child, the last thing you need to do is allow them access to financial accounts that could bring significant financial distress to you as well. Setting boundaries is difficult, but with the help and support of peers in groups who have walked this path, you can do it.
Most importantly, one of the most loving things you can do for your child is to refer them for treatment. With reputable treatment plans that utilize a network of resources, your child has the best chance of recovering from addiction and leading the life you always dreamed for them.
Why A Recovery Program Is The Best Way To Love Your Child
Recovery programs will not just give your child the resources, networks, skills, and treatment options that they need to live their best lives, but they’ll support you as well. When you don’t want to enable your addicted child, a recovery program will stand right beside you as you make those choices and decisions that come with firm boundaries. When your child is part of a recovery program, you no longer have to feel as if you are alone in ‘saving,’ your child. While ultimately, as an adult, your child is the only person who can truly save him or herself, a recovery program will help you not enable your child while protecting yourself, your resources, and your life—all while supporting your addicted child in what he or she needs to recover.
A recovery program that is committed to giving your child an encouraging and supportive environment in which to recover and get back to life will not just be a lifesaver for your child—it may be for you as well.
No More Enabling
If you’ve been wondering how to not enable your addicted son or daughter and instead, get them the help they need to recover and regain the life you always dreamed for them, consider contacting Ocean Hills Recovery. The caring and compassionate staff is committed to ensuring your addicted child has a successful and healthy future. As well, they’re committed to your family’s successful dynamics—loving and supporting one another without wondering if you are actually enabling your child and healthy relationships between all of you as adults.
Stop wondering how to not enable your adult-addicted child and instead, take healthy, loving steps toward their recovery and your family’s reconciliation. Call now.
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About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.