How to stop ‘enabling’ someone’s substance use

How to stop ‘enabling’ someone’s substance use

When I first heard the term “enabling”, I felt really sorry for the people who were classed as the “enablers”. It felt to me like a negative label attributed to someone that’s trying their best, day in, day out, to help someone they love with a substance misuse problem. “How mean”, I thought!

Now, I’ve realised that my attitude to this was all wrong. Enabling actually means unknowingly “making something possible or easier”. The family and friends of people who use drugs and alcohol go through a wide range of emotions themselves and are not trained therapists, so end up trying anything and everything to help their loved one change. This is a perfectly natural thing to do!

When a loved one shows signs of recovery or a glimmer of their old self and behaviours, a relaxed and sympathetic approach ensues. As they move back into their ‘selfish’ drinking or drug using behaviours, angry reactions are to be expected. If they put themselves in danger, panic, or worry, desperate measures are called upon. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions every single day and if you’re in this situation, you’re just doing your best. See my blog on the cycle of change for more detail of the road to recovery.

 

What is enabling?

 

Disabling enabling is one of the four Vesta Programme principles. In my programme, we will tune you in to any ways in which you and others have perhaps been (unknowingly) making it a bit too easy for your loved one to drink or use drugs. Don’t worry! Everyone does this out of the love and care for their family.

In order for your loved one to change, we make a plan for this to stop these behaviours and replace them with better ones. Why? Because until you and others around your loved one stop “helping”, the chances of them stopping misusing drugs or alcohol are slim to none.

There is no judgement here. Enabling, helping or whatever you want to label it is a lovely, kind thing to do. It’s just not going to change anything.

 

Why does enabling matter?

 

If we want to influence substance misusing behaviour, there are a few things to consider. What does your loved one get out of their substance use? What do they like about it and what does it allow them to avoid? It’s important to think about these points as the benefits of their use. Secondly, what problems do drug and alcohol use cause them? What good things do they miss out on when they use or drink? These are the costs of their substance use.

If we focus on the problems that drugs and alcohol cause them, these are “punishing consequences” and include anything that makes them feel bad as a result of their substance use. Hangovers, missing work, shame, depression, aggression or health concerns. Each person will have different reactions to different consequences.

The important thing to remember is that in order to create change, the balance of the costs and the benefits of substance use needs to be shifted so that your loved one experiences ALL the natural consequences of their substance use. Your loved one needs to experience the full costs of their substance use.

If enabling takes place by anyone close to your loved one, they will continue to experience the more positive effects of their substance use. We need them to experience the negatives. It’s tough, but I can help you do this on the Vesta Programme.

 

Enabling behaviours

 

We’ve established what enabling is and why we need to stop doing it, but it’s important to understand what types of behaviour are enabling. It can be anything that reduces the painful consequences of their use, protecting them from other people’s judgements or reactions. Some examples of enabling behaviours are as follows:

  • Concealing a loved one’s substance use from family or friends
  • Paying off debts
  • Reparing damage to home or other posesisons
  • Defending them from criticism
  • Being around your loved one when they drink or use (regardless of your mood!)
  • Making excuses for them with work absence
  • Avoiding having your own life on order to help them

Can you recognise any? What might be the consequences of these behaviours for you and your loved one?

Remember that nobody is judging you here!

 

The benefits of disabling enabling

 

When we enable, we reduce the negative consequences of someone’s undesirable behaviour at a cost to ourselves. This means that instead of your loved one experiencing the cost of their own behaviour, you are! These costs manifest themselves physically, emotionally, financially and socially.

If you think about what has worked before while you have been helping your loved one in this way, what has changed? Not much?

Perhaps it’s time to try a new approach.

Instead of living like this, imagine what it would be like to free up some of your headspace and concentrate on you?

In the Vesta Programme, I will help you to assess each enabling behaviour and we will work on stopping these. We will assess how comfortable and safe you feel stopping these behaviours and alongside the other programme principles I will help you to recover from your loved one’s substance use, live a better life and get your loved one into treatment.

 

I can help

 

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area or via Skype.

I also have an online therapeutic programme. Take a look at my services here

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free Ten Steps to Family Recovery download.

 

Take care,

 

Victoria.

The barriers to drug and alcohol users getting help

The barriers to drug and alcohol users getting help

There are many factors contributing to the reasons why problematic substance users do not get help for their drug or alcohol use. I thought this blog might be useful for anyone living with a loved one’s substance use to gain a bit of understanding around this look out for signs to take any action.

 

Are they ready?

 

Firstly, somebody needs to be at a certain stage of the cycle of change to even consider help. We would be looking for signs that a loved one is thinking about change, has said they will give up off their own back or seems uncomfortable about their use. These are the times to initiate conversations about getting help. On this note, please don’t waste your energy having these discussions when your loved one is heavily under the influence. It is a waste of your energy.

 

Have they hit rock bottom?

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, people do not need to hit ‘rock bottom’ in order to change. As a family member or friend, the Vesta Programme covers many strategies that you can use to adjust the environment that your loved one lives in and to change your responses to them when they use or drink. This will ultimately influence their decisions around their drug or alcohol use.

 

The types of barriers

 

Now we have covered those key points, let’s move onto the barriers:

 

  1. Psychological– these barriers are linked to how your loved one perceives their own substance use. For example, they may simply not see their substance use as being a problem. They may say they don’t need any help and they are in control. They might simply like using or they might just choose to ignore the issue entirely.
  2. Social– Shame, embarrassment, fear of people finding out or what others think about them are a huge barrier to family members AND substance users getting help. There is so much secrecy and stigma attached to getting help for substance use, but this should not be the case. Everyone has problems. Asking for help is a strength and allows people to move on with their lives.
  3. Practical– They might not have even wanted to look for ways they can get help. Maybe there are childcare issues. Working hours are a massive factor for professionals (as well as work finding out). Clinging onto negative stories about treatment in the media or from other people who have attempted recovery influences this also. Having no time or money can also be a preventative factor, despite the fact that substance users spend a fortune on obtaining their substance in the first place.
  4. Assumptions– or jumping to conclusions! These types of barriers can include anything from assuming they aren’t as bad as anyone else, thinking they will be told what to do or that there is only one type of help such as rehab or an equivalent. A big issue here is fear. Fear of what happens in treatment or what the consequences could be for them.
  5. Experiences– if a loved one has had experience of a particular service or professional in the past, this can cloud judgement around what help would be like in the future ANYWHERE. They may be petrified of what they will feel like if they stop using their substance and they may simply be a private person who doesn’t want to associate with other substance users.

All of these types of barriers are relevant in supporting someone into treatment. They are also relevant concerns for anyone who needs to access treatment so we have to work with the, and not dismiss them. One of the aims of the Vesta Programme is for a loved one to enter treatment as a result of working with a concerned family member. I can show you how to do this.

 

How do we address these barriers?

 

  1. Look out for times when a loved one appears to be thinking about change or speaking about it to start having conversations about getting help. I’ll write about ‘hooks’ next week so that you can identify the times when your loved one has become dissatisfied with their use and have relevant discussions about it.
  2. Gather as much information as possible about the help and support you can access locally and online. Ring up or message services, ask how they work so you can gently challenge any negative thoughts when the barriers come up in conversation and offer a range of options.
  3. Familiarise yourself with the barriers that you anticipate or know your loved one has to treatment. If they don’t talk about it at all, you can probably guess what their barriers would be so that you have something to work with from the five barrier types above. You can then get as much information about these potential barriers and address any practical issue as well when sourcing the right help for your loved one. This means you can prepare responses to their objections in advance.

 

There you go, a brief introduction to barriers and some points to deal with them. I just need to say that these conversations may not always be successful straight away, but it is important to act fast when you can see your loved one thinking about change. Preparing yourself now would be a wonderful way of getting one step ahead and preparing for family recovery.

 

I can help

 

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area. You can also get help via Skype  and an online group therapeutic programme.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free 10 Steps to Family Recovery download.

 

 

Take Care.

See you next week,

 

Victoria.

Disabling Enabling- stop helping your loved one’s substance use

Disabling Enabling- stop helping your loved one’s substance use

Introduction

 

When I first heard the term “enabling”, I felt really sorry for the people who were classed as the “enablers”. It felt to me like a negative label attributed to someone that’s trying their best, day in, day out, to help someone they love with a substance misuse problem. “How mean”, I thought!

Now, I’ve realised that my attitude to this was all wrong. Enabling is unknowingly “making something possible or easier”. The family and friends of people who use drugs and alcohol go through a wide range of emotions themselves and are not trained therapists so end up trying anything and everything to help their loved one change. This is a perfectly natural reaction!

When a loved one shows signs of recovery or a glimmer of their old self and behaviours, a relaxed and sympathetic approach ensues. As they move back into their ‘selfish’ drinking or drug using behaviours, angry reactions are to be expected. If they put themselves in danger, panic, worry and desperate measures are called upon. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions every single day and if you’re in this situation, you’re just doing your best. See my blog on the cycle of change for more detail of the road to recovery.

 

What is enabling?

 

Disabling enabling is one of the four Vesta Programme principles. In my programme, we will tune you in to any ways in which you and others have perhaps been (unknowingly) making it a bit too easy for your loved one to drink or use drugs. Don’t worry! Everyone does this out of the love and care for their family.

In order for your loved one to change, we make a plan for this to stop these behaviours and replace them with better ones. Why? Because until you and others around your loved one stop “helping”, the chances of them stopping misusing drugs or alcohol are slim to none.

There is no judgement here. Enabling, helping or whatever you want to label it is a lovely, kind thing to do. It’s just not going to change anything.

 

Why does enabling matter?

 

If we want to influence substance misusing behaviour, there are a few things to consider. What does your loved one get out of their substance use? What do they like about it and what does it allow them to avoid? It’s important to think about these points as the benefits of their use. Secondly, what problems do drug and alcohol use cause them? What good things do they miss out on when they use or drink? These are the costs of their substance use.

If we focus on the problems that drugs and alcohol cause them, these are “punishing consequences” and include anything that makes them feel bad as a result of their substance use. Hangovers, missing work, shame, depression, aggression or health concerns. Each person will have different reactions to different consequences.

The important thing to remember is that in order to create change, the balance of the costs and the benefits of substance use needs to be shifted so that your loved one experiences ALL the natural consequences of their substance use. Your loved one needs to experience the full costs of their substance use.

If enabling takes place by anyone close to your loved one, they will continue to experience the more positive effects of their substance use. We need them to experience the negatives. It’s tough, but I can help you do this on the Vesta Programme.

 

Enabling behaviours

 

We’ve established what enabling is and why we need to stop doing it, but it’s important to understand what types of behaviour are enabling. It can be anything that reduces the painful consequences of their use, protecting them from other people’s judgements or reactions. Some examples of enabling behaviours are as follows:

  • Concealing a loved one’s substance use from family or friends
  • Paying off debts
  • Reparing damage to home or other posesisons
  • Defending them from criticism
  • Being around your loved one when they drink or use (regardless of your mood!)
  • Making excuses for them with work absence
  • Avoiding having your own life on order to help them

Can you recognise any? What might be the consequences of these behaviours for you and your loved one?

Remember that nobody is judging you here!

 

The benefits of disabling enabling

 

When we enable, we reduce the negative consequences of someone’s undesirable behaviour at a cost to ourselves. This means that instead of your loved one experiencing the cost of their own behaviour, you are! These costs manifest themselves physically, emotionally, financially and socially.

If you think about what has worked before while you have been helping your loved one in this way, what has changed? Not much? Perhaps it’s time to try a new approach.

Instead of living like this, imagine what it would be like to free up some of your headspace and concentrate on you?

In the Vesta Programme, I will help you to assess each enabling behaviour and we will work on stopping these. We will assess how comfortable and safe you feel stopping these behaviours and alongside the other programme principles I will help you to recover from your loved one’s substance use, live a better life and get your loved one into treatment.

I can help you!

 

I teach this and more in my Vesta Programme.My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area. You can also get help via Skype  and an online group therapeutic programme.Follow me on Twitter and FacebookSign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free 10 Steps to Family Recovery download.For a safe space to share your situation, go to my closed group, Vesta Confidential, where family members living with a substance user support each other and get lots of information and advice from me.

 

Take Care.

See you next week,

 

Victoria x