It is very hard to be a family member or significant other of an opiate addict. You have absolutely no control over the desperate situation and have to sit back with your hands tied and watch the future unfold. I speak to many people daily who are affected by the addiction of a loved one. They feel so helpless, fearing that they will eventually get a call from the police or a friend/family member telling them that their loved one has passed away from an overdose. It comes up often in conversation, but I make it clear to the person that they suffer the same if not worse than the actual addict, especially if they are a parent or spouse of the addict. You want to switch places with them, take their pain away but that is not reality.
When you live with an addict, it is very common to enable them. Nothing in the world is harder than ignoring or cutting off your child. It is natural for parents to want the best for their children. When they were growing up you dreamed of what they would become. Never did you think your children would become addicts. You taught them better, and they knew better. Unfortunately things don't always go the way parents want things to go. Most parents would die for their children because the love for them is so strong. When you are faced with an addiction and you witness your child slowly killing themselves, you want to stop it. You want to take control of the situation and make sure they get better. But what do you do when your child will not admit to the problem, or worse yet, they know they have a problem but they do not want to go to treatment, or they are “not ready” to get clean?
Enabling is very difficult to stop. When I speak with parents and tell them that they need to stop enabling their child, they sometimes take offense. They mistakenly think I am blaming them for their child being an addict. This could not be further from the truth. What I am simply saying is that they need to stop all possible interactions with their child that may make their ability to get high easier. When you house an addict and provide them with home-cooked meals and transportation, you are enabling them. This is simply because without a home, food and transportation, it would make it more difficult for them to get high because they would have to figure out where they will be sleeping and staying. For most adults, this means they will have to pay rent or a mortgage to live somewhere. When you no longer have food you have to go buy some or cook yourself. If you do not have transportation, you will have to walk, take public transportation or buy a car and pay for gas. These three main essentials are the main forms of enabling and they all cost money. That money takes away from their ability to get high. So when you ask yourself if you are enabling your loved one, ask yourself if you are doing any one of these three things. Remember tough love is sometimes hard to do, but can be live saving. If you or a loved one is addicted to opiates or any drug, please seek professional medical help.