Dr. Phil is not an addiction specialist, but he really hit the nail on the head with this quiz. As the co-founder’s of the Next Step Card we deal with families constantly struggling with the question of whether they are helping their loved one or enabling them. We thought this quiz could help many of our families determine for themselves if they do play the role of an enabler in the relationship with the person they love struggling from addiction.
An enabler is a person who, acting out of a sincere sense of love, loyalty and concern, steps in to protect, cover up for, make excuses for and become more responsible for the chemically dependent person. This can prevent the addicted individual from a crisis that might bring about change, and thereby prolong his or her illness. To find out if you may be an enabler, answer the following questions:
1) Do you avoid potential problems by trying to keep the peace? Do you do whatever you can to avoid conflict because doing so will solve problems?
2) Are you in denial about your loved one being addicted? Do you think his or her drug or alcohol use is just a phase and isn’t anything to be concerned about?
3) Do you have a hard time expressing your feelings? Do you keep all your emotions inside?
4) Do you minimize the situation? Do you think the problem will get better later?
5) Do you lecture, blame or criticize the chemically dependent person?
6) Do you take over the responsibilities of the addicted person? Do you cover for and pick up his or her slack to minimize the negative consequences? Do you repeatedly come to the rescue — bailing him or her out of jail, out of financial problems or other tight spots?
7) Do you try to protect your addicted loved one from pain?
8) Do you treat him or her like a child? Do you enjoy taking care of your loved one and feel superior when you do? Do you still financially support him or her, even though he or she is an adult?
9) Do you try to control the dependent person?
10) Are you good at just enduring? Do you often think, this too shall pass?
11) Do you believe in waiting? That God will take care of this?
12) Do you give him or her one more chance, then another and yet another?
13) Do you join him or her in the dangerous behavior, even when you know he or she has a problem?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you may have enabling behaviors, which could be making the addicted person sicker. Educate yourself about addiction and find support for families of addicts, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.
Here is the direct link to dr. phil’s article: http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/680
Sobriety isn’t just about staying away from our addiction of choice. It involves a complete shift in the way we think and live. Many people overlook the importance of ‘outside factors’ that contribute to growth and maturity in early recovery. One of the most important—and often ignored—components that that affects everyone’s life is money.
Most of the people I know have never developed money management skills. If (like me) they had them at one time, any practical skills they gained over the years were erased by the addiction.
Often when somebody has just come ‘off a run’ they are faced with feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy. We are extremely uncomfortable within ourselves. In my experience, I turned to impulsive and compulsive spending. Providing myself with tangible goods and services was an attempt to make me feel more comfortable and in control.
Many people in recovery have identified impulsive and compulsive spending to be a primary indicator of relapse behavior. Like the highs I got in my addiction, the allure of those comforts would quickly fade and I would have to go out and spend more money. I may not have been using, but I was essentially living the same way I was in the heat of my addiction.
This is why learning financial responsibility is so helpful. It forces us to address and change behaviors and habits associated with our addictions. In learning responsible financial practices, we both grow our personal ‘living skills’ and our ability to be a productive member of society.
Here are some important basics of money management and financial responsibility:
- Determine Needs vs. Wants and Create A Budget: As somebody who struggled with addiction I developed a mentality of “I want what I want when I want it.” This is a very distorted way of thinking. It is critical to sit down and think about what we need and not what we want. (Example: We need food, but we also want to eat out because it’s easier… going grocery shopping and making food at home is cheaper.) Once we figure out what we need, we can make it into a list: Create a weekly or monthly budget for each category (like gas, toiletries, food.) Planning ahead helps us meet our goals.
- Set A Schedule: Early recovery is all about creating schedules and structure. It is important to pick a day of the week to go grocery shopping and stick to it. Many regular expenses, like paying bills, can be planned ahead. In my experience, when I didn’t have a date and time planned for shopping I often found good reasons to not go because something else came up. That made impulsive, ‘last minute’ spending easier.
- Try Bulk Purchasing: When I was in active addiction I lived from dollar to dollar. I didn’t care about saving money for the future. One of the toughest psychological hurdles I had to overcome was making bulk purchases. It was scary to spend a large sum of money at once. Realizing how much money I was saving by doing so, helped to overcome the anxiety. Individual purchases at premium prices cost a significant amount of money every day, week, and month-money that could be put towards doing something else we like to do. (And we’re less likely to run out of toilet paper!)
- Develop A Reward System for Yourself: As a person with an addictive personality, it’s sometimes hard for me to see the benefits of what I am doing now for the future. That’s why I think it’s important to create a small reward system for myself. If I stick to my budget, I am saving money. A small reward could be taking a percentage of the money I saved that month and using it towards a meal I enjoy at a restaurant. A little healthy self-indulgence is important, and it’s a good reminder that great things will come if I continue to live responsibly. Without having goals, a person has nothing to strive for.
I want to finish this by expressing my concern for having ‘cash-in-hand’ early in recovery. As I stated earlier, recovery is about eliminating maladaptive habits from my addiction. Having cash provided the ability to easily get whatever I wanted and satisfy the obsession instantly.
I don’t make the point-blank declaration that cash is a trigger for everyone, but by eliminating cash you delay the instant gratification, allowing more time to think about the consequence and deter acting on the immediate desire. That’s what led me to develop a pre-paid credit card strategy to help manage money in early recovery. It’s not the only strategy, but it’s worked for many.
About the Author:
Eric Dresdale is a 29 year old recovering addict, and co-founder of the Next Step Prepaid MasterCard program. You can follow him on Twitter at @nextstepcard.
As we continue to expand our presence, we continue to have the pleasure of being introduced to new people, new facilities, and new recovery residences. We have just developed a new relationship with David Niknafs and his recovery residence in Delray Beach, Florida called RECO Institute. Through our involvement in the recovery community down here, we have met several people who are either currently living at, or went through RECO Institute, and everyone has very positive things to say about the structure and accommodations.
Our mission at RECO Institute (http://www.recoinstitute.com/) is to provide a high end, safe and sober environment for both males and females in early recovery. It is our belief that with the proper structure and guidance, every person has the ability to live a clean, happy, healthy and responsible lifestyle.
Helping family members with addiction is not easy. It’s a difficult process and for many families and loved ones, it’s an entirely new process. And most individuals who provide addiction support have a hard time differentiating between what it means to “enable” or “support” their loved one. It’s a fine line, and one that’s difficult to plainly decipher in the midst of such an emotional situation. To help you understand the difference, here are a few characteristics of each type of behavior:
You’re enabling an addict when you’re:
- Doing something for an addict that they should be doing themselves.
- Helping an addict avoid the consequences of unacceptable behavior.
- Continuing to provide for an addict during a relapse.
- Paying bills, filling out job applications, making excuses.
You’re supporting an addict when you’re:
- Doing something for an addict that they are not capable of doing for themselves
- Allowing them to resume taking responsibility for their own lives.
- Only a part of their lives when they’re in recovery and living responsibly.
- Encouraging them to pay their bills, apply for jobs, and take ownership.
If you find yourself nursing them back to health after a relapse or paying for an addict’s latest gambling debt, these acts of kindness are actually enabling their behavior. Addicts need their families and loved ones to provide addiction support, and in order to do that, family members have to understand the difference between support and enabling. It’s not always easy to know how to start helping family members with an addiction, but a great place to begin is by learning how your supportive behavior puts them on a path to recovery.