An American Addiction Centers Resource

New to the Forums?Join or

How to love your child, without enabling them

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Child' started by singingintherain, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. singingintherain

    singingintherain Community Champion

    It is often a very fine line for people to walk - the difference between loving your child and being there for them, versus enabling their addiction.

    This article offers some advice on how to walk that fine line. Namely, by being available, being proud of, and loving them, being welcoming and reading, researching & seeking professional assistance.

    What are your experiences with walking that line? Do you employ the techniques listed in that article to good effect? I think one of the hardest parts is being welcoming. It's not that you don't want to be, it's just that separating them from the drugs, and keeping your home drug free, is such a challenge.
    Momma9, MrsJones and deanokat like this.
  2. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

  3. mscaver86

    mscaver86 Member

    It is a very fine line indeed. How can you say no to someone you gave life to? How hard is it to see them suffer because they want something so bad and they are begging you almost in tears and turn around and say no? I know we have to be strong but it is a lot easier said than done.
    Becks, Kamille6 and Momma9 like this.
  4. Tremmie

    Tremmie Community Champion

    Awesome article, so now I got a very clear definition of loving an addict :) I hope I never need this with my own kids or anything like that, but it is indeed so useful to know. I think it is so hard to know whether you are helping them or just enabling them. I am going to apply those very same advice to my current situation with my fiance. I need to get on researching the topic more though, I sent him a site with all the info he needs in order to quit, but he didn't even open it. I guess I should act a bit more like his mom and sign up for him, see what options he has?
  5. Momma9

    Momma9 Community Champion

    It is sooo hard, but the article is right. My daughter is a meth addict at 24 and will be getting out of prison for the 3rd time in October. I so want her to stay clean, but am trying not to get my hopes up.

    I have been tough so far and refused to help except for buying her food and thrift store clothes when she is sober and we hang out. I keep remembering her as a baby - how did this happen?
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
    hope4usmn likes this.
  6. hope4usmn

    hope4usmn Member

    Let me start with I am the mother of a 34 yr old daughter addicted to meth. This all new to me, meaning drug addiction. I feel I am at my wits end, I have read, researched, read and researched more about this and feel like I do know alot more then I did. I have read the article, and I know I am an enabler, I have paid bills, paid rent, got money from my parents to help keep her car, bailed her out of jail, got her to go to treatment for 30 days only after she went to jail and got out, and someone called CPS on her, she is single and has 2 daughters. Before this started which I believe her heavy use began 2 years ago, she had a great job she loved for over 10 years, good relationship, nice home, car, all was good. Then after her 11 year relationship ended, her downward spiral began. My issue I fight with is my grandchildren, she is still dealing with CPS they do random drug tests, which she passes, I have no idea how, I know she is using again, I know she is using in her home with the children present, I battle with her losing her children, then I enable because them kids need it, thats my reasoning, she recently asked me to lie for her to CPS about where she was one night. I know I need to stop "helping is so hard, at this point she still has full custody, I feel put in a bad spot, not sure what to do, not sure who to talk to, fell very lost, yet keep trying to keep Hope for her. I wound up here looking for anyone, something to help me get thru some of these things. Should I call human services on her, let them know what i believe, will it do any good?? My daughter came home from treatment wasnt long she was back hanging with her old crowd, she denies using, says she is looking for a job, says she is doing good. Yet she is pushing me away, lying about things she thinks i need to hear, all the things she was doing before. Anyhows.. thank you for listening, any advice you have is appreciated 7/25/2016
  7. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @hope4usmn... Welcome to the community and thanks for sharing with us. I'm sorry that your daughter is struggling and that you are struggling, too. As the father of a child in recovery from heroin addiction, I know a lot of what you're feeling.

    As parents, we want to do everything we can to "fix" our children. When they're little kids and fall and scrape their knee, that's doable. We clean out the cut, put a Band-Aid on it, and send them on their way. But with addiction, it's another story. Addiction is a disease that parents cannot fix. It doesn't matter how much we want our child to change, or how hard we work at "fixing" them; if the addict doesn't want to change none of it will matter.

    Yes, you are a textbook enabler. But at least you recognize that fact. My wife and I enabled our son for a long time, too, until we realized that we were doing him more harm than good. By enabling, all we do is make it easier for the addict to continue on their road of destruction. Our son was comfortable in his addiction, compliments of me and my wife. When we finally got the courage up to tell him he either had to go to treatment or leave our house for good, that's when things started changing for the better.

    I totally get that enabling your daughter is probably much easier to do because of her two daughters. Not giving your daughter money for rent not only subjects your daughter to consequences, but it affects your grandchildren, too. That's a tough situation and I don't know how I would handle the same situations. But I'm definitely going to cut you some slack because of the grandkids. That said, you can't keep doing the same thing and expect things to change. Like they say, "If nothing changes, nothing changes." Or, if you prefer, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    I saw that you liked a comment I made in another thread about someone who was dealing with their nephew's addiction. So you've likely read this already, but I'm going to copy and paste it here so it's in this comment, too, because it definitely applies to you as well:

    I'd like to recommend a fabulous book to you. It's called Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change. It's written specifically for partners and loved ones of addicts and it's full of great information. It teaches you how to communicate with your loved one, how to help motivate them to want to change, and how to take care of yourself while you're trying to help. I think you could really benefit from reading the book. I talk a little bit more about it in this blog post I wrote not too long ago:

    6 Essential Books for Those with an Addicted Loved One

    That book really is amazing and I highly recommend it.

    As far as what you should do about your daughter at this point...I'm not really sure. I've never been in your situation, so it's difficult to give advice. I will say this: Your granddaughters should not be living in a home where there is an active drug user present, even if it is their mother. That is a very dangerous situation for sure.

    You've probably done this already, but I would suggest sitting down with your daughter and having a heart-to-heart, mother-to-daughter talk. With love and compassion, tell her that you're concerned about her well-being; tell her you're concerned about your granddaughters' well-being; and tell her how her drug use makes you feel. No anger. No yelling. No confrontation. Just love and compassion. And maybe ask her if she'd be willing to go see an addiction specialist, who can assess her situation and recommend the best next steps.

    If your daughter shuts down the conversation, or if she refuses to seek any kind of help, then I would absolutely consider calling CPS. (I certainly wouldn't lie to CPS for her.) That's not a pleasant thing to have to do, but your daughter is an adult who can live her life however she chooses. If she chooses to keep using drugs, then so be it. But your grandchildren don't have a choice in this matter. If they're with your daughter, and she's using, then they are in a dangerous situation. And that's not right. Their safety should be the top priority in this matter, I think.

    I don't know what your situation is, but is there any way you could watch your granddaughters if your daughter went to treatment? If that's possible, maybe suggest that as an option. (Just thinking out loud.)

    I would also suggest that you consider seeking out a Nar-Anon or Al-Anon meeting and going to it. Being among people who know exactly what you're going through can be incredibly helpful.

    No matter what you choose to do, know this one thing: We are here to help and support you however we can. You are not alone, my friend, so feel free to reach out and lean on us anytime.

    I am sending you positive vibes and lots of hugs full of hope. I will also pray for your daughter and your granddaughters. I hope things get better. In order for that to happen, though, I think some things are going to have to change.

    Light and love to you.
    Donnchadh likes this.
  8. hope4usmn

    hope4usmn Member

    Thank you so much Dean for your words. I have read it several times and I am so glad your son found the strength to conquer his demons. I wish I had you to mentor my daughter, she has been to 12 step based 30day inpatient treatment, attends NA meetings, meets with a psychologist, all of these things required by the treatment center who is working with our human services to keep her children. All she does(what she says to me) is count the days its done, the random checks, the stupid meetings, listening to all these bullshit people who I am not even like. I have asked her if she has any sober friends, she says yes, I said why don't you hang out with them. She says, its boring, how people say they have fun being sober. Her rationales, how she convinces herself the only happy times she has is when she is high. Anyway, I did not call CPS, I just couldn't do it, trust me it still eats me up. I recently found out my other daughter, (I have 2 daughters) got high with her, I knew she had did drugs long ago, and really has been a big support through all this with her sister. So needless to say, at this very moment I would say I am just disappointed, angry, hurt, and I can say, I have said it many times in the last week, "I give up! Why Why why! I have not spoke to either one of them in just over a week, and in which neither of them has reached out to me either. Ya know I found it interesting when you said, have a heart to heart conversation with my daughter, I have not had that, you know she has never really even admitted to me she has used drugs, she says I drink, smoke marijuana, and done meth a couple times. Keep in mind the truth all came Out, cause someone turned into CPS they came and did a random drug test and she failed for meth, when she admitted she had did meth, and we got her to go to treatment then. So have I had a heart to heart? No . When she was in treatment, they had a family day and wanted her family there, and she begged us not to come, was just dumb, you wouldnt like it mom, all day thing, groups, people telling long stupid stories...I said I was going to come, it ended up I didn't, she got out the day after....Now I think I know why she didn't want me there, she did not want me to confront her. I have said things here and there, little things, nothing about how any of this has affected me, I just don't want to make her mad I guess, I don't know. She definitely has admitted nothing to me, she is a master liar, she can convince you or anyone of anything, she posts all these pictures on FB of herself , (she is a very beautiful woman) and all the comments she gets, I look at them and feel sad cause I see them eyes she is loaded. So anyways, today I feel there is no more I can do ...
  9. Donnchadh

    Donnchadh Active Contributor

    Take deanokat's advice I think it's the best advice your going to get. I once was where your daughter is now and to be brutally honest I really appreciated everyone who enabled my addiction and I actually played people like puppets I'm not proud to say but that's the disease we're dealing with we use or I did every trick in the book in order to get people to enable my addiction. I'd suggest that you seek a group that supports family members of addicts you should be able to get information about such groups at your medical or social center's. You might find it difficult approaching them but please do they will totally understand and listen and advise you.all my best to you and I sincerely hope your daughter manages to get to grips with her addiction Love and Hugs to you all.your in my prayers xx
    deanokat and hope4usmn like this.
  10. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @hope4usmn... I'm sorry you're feeling like there's no more you can do. I understand your frustration, anger, and hurt. If the addicted person doesn't want to get better, it's incredibly difficult to help them. But that Beyond Addiction book I recommended does have suggestions for helping motivate your loved one to want to change. It might be worth reading, if you feel up to it.

    My son went to four different rehabs before things finally "stuck." Recovery is not a straight line, and it can take lots of time for someone to finally get clean.

    Just know that I'm here for you for help and support anytime. Just reach out if you need to.

    Big hugs coming your way.

    hope4usmn and Donnchadh like this.
  11. Babs1349

    Babs1349 Member

    My son is 40 years old, has gone through 2 inpatient rehabs and is at his worse point ever. I constantly read to understand what I should be doing. Our life was very much entangled with my son. He lives in a house (alone but has shared custody of his son) that I own and has worked for my husband for 15 years. With that set up, we were able to be flexible with his bouts of drinking, not showing up for work and not paying rent. My husband is retiring and ending the business (had a plan to have my husband handle everything but the daily work in March but that didn't work out). My son is very knowledgeable and could have gone on to be crew chief but he stopped showing up. My husband was left going back to the day to day work (he's 64) and realized that is not going to work. My son has always had a problem keeping jobs as a teenager. His criminal record doesn't help. My son still lives in the house but has paid nothing since March. Now that we are retiring, I cant afford to cover what I use to. I will have to evict him. That means also taking away that portion of my grandsons life, the school he loves and a great group of friend's he has made in that neighborhood. I'm lucky enough to have a functional mother for my grandson. With that as my background story, I have a lot of hard choices to make to move forward in my life. There is a full functioning family other than my son. I have read some very interesting articles lately about taking care of yourself and your family. One most interesting approach is instead of trying to change the person who resist change (interventions, counseling they know doesn't work) , have the people who want change (parents, family) change THEIR ways. With the idea that enabling is allowing an addict not to experience the consequences of their actions is a disservice to a child. Its true when they are 10 and holds true when they re 40. With that in mind, why would an addict change? He gets fed, has a roof over his head, etc. So what he lost cable! Enabling becomes a way of allowing the actions to stay the same. But a slow walk backwards from an addict keeps the responsibility squarely where it belongs, with the addict. In my case, we are signing over his car (in our name) and will pay for the registration and first full months of insurance (may be considered enabling but we are walking back slowly hoping to keep him functioning for a while to make the right choices). It will then be his "choice" to keep it on the road and the liability is off my husbands shoulders. Then the hard part. I do not have the money for October taxes for the house he lives in. I have made it perfectly clear that things have changed and I need rent money to keep the house. I think he thinks I will never do it. New circumstances in our life will force me (retirement). I am not taking the house from my grandson, my sons choices are. I will not allow my son to take away the retirement me and my husband have worked for over 40 years. Shame on us if we let that happen. How would THAT feel in 10 years. I will continue to listen (if he wants to connect) and help him through the crazy mental health in this country to find help for him. But HE is in the drivers seat. He has lived in his car before and he may again but it is HIS choices that put him there. We love him and have a very cordial relationship, but it is time for us to live our lives and for him to take on the responsibility of an adult life like all the rest of us. If it doesn't have a happy ending, we are left with the feeling we did all we could for as long as we could. Me and my husband had hopes and dreams before my son was born. We will not deny ourselves our dreams.
    deanokat, Dominica and lonewolves like this.
  12. lonewolves

    lonewolves Community Champion

    That part really got to me!! Thanks for sharing your story.
    True concern and deanokat like this.
  13. Dominica

    Dominica Recovery Advocate @ Moving Beyond Codependency Community Listener

    @Babs1349 you have a lot of insight htere, and now is the time for change! if you find yourself struggling to make these changes, consider reaching out to a therapist who will help you implement them... to help you really do as you say, and just have someone to bounce things off of. it might not be easy, but worth it.

    you deserve to have a wonderful retirement without having to contend with an adult child's addiction.

    i found the book "don't let your kids kill you" helpful :)
    True concern and lonewolves like this.
  14. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @Babs1349... I talk about that book Dominica recommends in this blog:

    6 Essential Books for Those with an Addicted Loved One

    The part of the book I quote there is:

    “A major change occurs when the parent of an addict switches off the victim role and takes on an entirely new identity, that of the strong, highly-resolved individual who knows there’s life after drugged kids. For one thing, the parent feels a surge of freedom that is exhilarating. It’s like emerging into bright sunshine after many years in a dark cell. For another, the parent will now be able to pick up the pieces of his or her broken life, start new projects, meet new people, do all those things that have been delayed.”

    I hope you can find that bright sunshine soon, my friend.

    Also, the Beyond Addiction book is fabulous, too.
    True concern and lonewolves like this.
  15. True concern

    True concern Moderator

    @Babs1349 My heart hurts for you,your husband,your grandchild,and yes even for your son.Enabling is never easy as it's not intentional but usually is simply genuine love and concern that start's the cycle from what I've read it sounds like alcohol is his substance of abuse and i'm not trying to burden you with this but it is the deadliest substance on the planet to detox from,so what i would care to know is does he have extreme withdrawals when he doesn't drink?Or is it more a way to escape the responsibility of reality?I agree that you have absolutely earned your happiness in retiring and i am happy you are in a position to live out some dreams you and your husband have planned.I am 37 and have lived a very destructive past however i am week's away from 6 month's ober and truly grateful to be alive.I hope to learn more about your son's addiction but in no way do i think you should devote your life to him destroying his.Stay Strong and God Bless Take Care
  16. Babs1349

    Babs1349 Member

    Thank you so much for your feedback and support. To answer your question about my sons withdrawal experiences, ironically, I do not hear or see anything extreme. He talks about terrible nightmares which he describes "like they know what is most important to me (his son)" on an hourly basis some nights. It is so hard to believe after seeing the amount of alcohol he consumes when he has money. I do not live with him so I don't know what else is happening (shakes). He will spend days in bed sleeping because, as he said, he is upset because he screwed up again (usually when he has not gone to work that affects his father). Right now, he isn't that bad (money from last time he worked has run out) and has attended his sons activities (again, he's the coach of baseball and hockey - things he gets involved in when he's controlling his sobriety after rehab). My feeling is he drinks to escape from reality and has some mental illness (ADD for sure). He has lost his job now and has to find another. He has not had to do that for many years and has no confidence in having that work out. He has said that. He does not want to go to rehab again. Things have changed since so many opioid addicts are in the system. People are rushed through detox and put into group areas too soon. We have a good relationship with my son but we have learned what a great manipulator he is. I am trying to get him to sign a HIPAA form giving me permission to help him navigate the crazy mental health system in this country. Again, I left the form on the table, he will decide the next step. It's funny, he is so much better when he has no money! I will do this one step at a time. Walking backward from a child is so hard. The worse is yet to come and I know it. I feel stronger in my convection more than ever. Finding this site, reading the articles is wonderful. Thank you all for reaching out to us parents.
  17. True concern

    True concern Moderator

    @Babs1349 i am going to share my story with you just so you know there is always hope a person will change and you will read what it took for me to take steps to get where i am today almost 6 month's completely sober but the road to get here...Nearly took my life.Stay Focused because you are correct the worst is yet to come and i pray to God he stops drinking before his life is in a box covered in flowers.

    This is my story of addiction.I was born in the early 80's at the age of six year's old i was diagnosed with that time there was a new F.D.A.approved drug by the name of Ritalin.At first it seemed to be a miracle pill,I was on this pill until the age of 18 at that time i decided i was no longer going to take this pill and it began just under a year passed and someone said "Have you ever tried crystal"which i had not at that time but i tried it and instantly noticed that it was 100% the same effect i got from Ritalin only difference was it lasted longer,or seemed to but honestly it was probably the quantity i was doing was greater than that of Ritalin i struggled with meth on and off for roughly 20 year's,not only meth but i was as well consuming 750ml of Jack Daniel's a day plus a 12 pack of beer.For those who don't know when you mix the two you don't appear to get drunk which is very deadly because infact you do get drunk however you don't realise it until it's too late meaning alcohol poisoning.I experienced this a few times and actually died on a hospital bed due to this fact,it took 3 hits with a defibrillator to restart my heart and i was told the only reason I was hit 3 times was because i was only 19 year's old,but usually after the second time if your heart doesn't restart you are then pronounced dead,but a nurse pleaded with the try one more time and he did and my heart started back up.I didn't know at the time but that nurse was actually the mother of the lead singer of Sublime who just lost her son to a heroin overdose.I am forever grateful for that nurse without her plea i would be another statistic.Unfortunately I didn't quite using drug's at that time i just traded substances.I started abusing pain pills heavily and increased that addiction to catastrophic proportions,it got so bad i started injecting heroin which i quickly traded for oxycontin because it was much stronger than heroin.I abused fentanyl as well but nothing compared to the oxycontin.At my worst i was injecting 240-320mg's of oxycontin a day,feeling i wouldn't survive another month i decided to seek help.I'm poor and i come from poor parent's so my options were limited,i ended up at a methadone clinic for help slowly decreasing my extremely high tolerance.At the clinic i had an interview with a drug addiction counselor and an addiction physician,i was hoping for good news but what i heard shock me to my core.I was told by both the same thing,"Sir we are sorry to tell you but your addiction and tolerance is beyond the point of return,whether you quit or continue either way you cannot survive you have if your lucky a month to live"My heart sank and i decided at that moment if i was going to die i would die trying.I went home and prayed and then i called my wife into the room to tell her the news.At that moment i apologized to her told her how much she meant to me and made her promise if i didn't make it she would move on re marry and live a happy life and she noded yes.After that i quite cold turkey and suffered pain and sickness i cannot describe,for 27 straight day's i did not leave the bedroom,i did not eat,i did not sleep,i hallucinated,i screamed in intense unimaginable pain,i lost over 50 pound's in that time frame and had to be rushed to the hospital 3 time's where they would rehydrate me and try to give me pain shots to stall the detox which i refused.On day 28 I took my first steps after i quite and by the grace of God i survived and this May im married 18 year's to my beautiful wife and guardian angel.This is the first time I've shared my story of addiction and i did it for one reason alone,i want everyone to know i understand what you are going through and no matter how bad it gets there is hope.I'm here for each and everyone of you,if you ever need someone to talk to,if you ever feel no one understands im all ears and i do understand.Stay Strong We're rooting for you
    deanokat likes this.
  18. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @Babs1349 @True concern... Enabling usually happens when a loved one is trying to help someone. It actually has its roots in good intentions. The problem is, what we think will help the addict oftentimes ends up hurting them. Learning to step back and not enable is something that takes practice. So if someone has enabled in the past, they shouldn't beat themselves up too badly over it. When we have an addicted loved one, we do the best that we can with what we know at the time, and we learn as we go along. And try to do better. It's a process. Always.
  19. True concern

    True concern Moderator

    Constantly learning something new and each time I understand a little better
    deanokat, Dominica and lonewolves like this.
  20. Babs1349

    Babs1349 Member

    Thank you for those words of wisdom. You described it exactly. It helps to move forward from this point with that mindset.