Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease that affects people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the United States, and its impact is felt not only by the addict but family and friends as well. Unfortunately for the addict, many times it is those they consider to be their friends that often enable them to continue their addiction. If you believe this is happening to you, what are the signs you should look for that will let you know if this is the case?
The first and most obvious sign to indicate friends may be enabling an addiction to continue is the behavior of the friends themselves. Continuing to spend time around friends who are making poor choices and decisions is a virtual guarantee you will stay addicted. Many times, these same friends will continue expecting you to fall into the same behavior as they are displaying, which keeps the vicious cycle of addiction going strong. To break this cycle, the answer is usually to come to a realization that these so-called friends are doing your life more harm than good. When this is the case, it’s time to find some new friends.
Another example of friends helping to keep an addiction going is their willingness to help when legal problems or money problems come to fruition. While their intentions may be good, the results are often very negative. Friends will often loan an addict money when they are asked, even if they know deep down the money will be used to purchase drugs or alcohol. While most addicts will say they need the money for something else and try to convince their friends nothing is wrong, usually everyone involved knows what is really going on. Some friends will even be willing to help with bailing an addict out of jail over and over if they are arrested for drunk driving, drug possession or other crimes. This also keeps an addiction going, for the addict comes to believe no matter what they do there will always be someone there to solve the problem.
Friends will also provide much emotional support when an addict’s life is spinning out of control, thinking they are helping the addict by being there for them when times are tough. However, in many cases the end result is once again enabling problem behavior to continue. An addict will often know which buttons to push to elicit sympathy from family and friends, and will also know which friends are easily manipulated emotionally. While many friends will believe they are helping by being available to listen to an addict’s concerns, they instead are providing reinforcement for the problem behavior that the addict will come to use as justification that what they are doing is acceptable.
The vast majority of friends have the best of intentions in mind when providing help to addicts, thinking if they do so their friend will not get hurt. However, the opposite often happens. People do not want to admit to themselves that the addiction is serious enough to kill their friend, and continue to believe by providing financial, legal and emotional support that the situation will resolve itself in a positive manner. However, like the addict they are in a state of denial, failing to see the situation is only getting worse. Only when withdrawing support on all levels and confronting the situation in a straightforward manner will any improvement begin to result. Through interventions and other means, friends can stop enabling an addict and start to help them see the consequences of their actions. When this happens, the cycle of addiction begins to crumble and their friend can get the treatment needed to live a happy and healthy life.