Manipulation and enabling is quite frequent with both the addict themselves and family members or friends. Being in active addiction will cause that person to resort to surprisingly savvy behaviors to get what they need. As well, any loved ones will continue to allow those behaviors to continue out of fear for the consequences the addict could suffer. The disease of addiction is quite unique, especially when you compare it to virtually every other disease in the world. Most diseases are either physical or psychological while addiction is somewhere in the middle. As well, the majority of physical and psychological afflictions can be treated in some way, typically with some type of medication that offers relief from the symptoms created by the disease. There’s also the fact that while there are many diseases that aren’t completely curable in the traditional sense, the majority of them can be put into remission and require very little effort or thought to keep in remission. In other words, overcoming the effects of those diseases allows a person to return to living basically a completely normal life once again. However, that’s not the case with addiction.
It’s only relatively recently that we’ve begun to understand addiction as well as we do today; but even with our advanced technologies and scientific studies, we still have so much more to learn about this mysterious disease. In previous years, addiction was thought to merely be a person consciously choosing not to exercise any self-control or restraint. In fact, most people believe that substance abusers were bad, selfish, godless people who cared little for anyone but themselves and were lacking considerable character. As a result, people who would be offered addiction treatment today were largely incarcerated or institutionalized, committed to prisons or insane asylums for their deviance.
With regard to putting substance abusers in prisons, the idea was to force them into sobriety through confinement while the fear or further incarceration would deter them from any additional substance abuse in the future. However, that’s not how it ended up working out. Instead, most of the people who were incarcerated for substance abuse quickly resumed their previous substance abuse behavior after getting released. Clearly, there was something occurring with addicts that caused them to behave in ways that defied their better judgement. In other words, there was something underlying their substance abuse behavior that was forcing them to behave irrationally.
That irrational behavior has remained a hallmark characteristic of people suffering from addiction. Even today, people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs behave in ways that they never would have behaved before they became addicted. Addicts often lose their jobs, their homes, their financial independence, their retirement funds, their relationships, and their health over the course of addiction. As it becomes increasingly expensive to maintain their substance abuse habits, they become increasingly desperate, resorting to unsavory behaviors that might even involve betraying loved ones. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the behaviors on both parts; if you are causing harm just as much as they are.
As their addictions progress, addicts get better and better at coming up with excuses and making up stories that help them get what they need out of others so that they can get their next fix. In the early stages of addiction, most addicts will continue to exploit the trust that they’d previously established with friends and family. However, once that trust is broken — which often occurs when the addict’s loved ones have caught them in numerous lies — the addict must feign situations in which he or she needs money, convincing his or her loved one to provide the money that the addict will then spend on alcohol or drugs. It’s important to identify these instances of enabling, and we’ll review why it’s important nearer to the end of this discussion.
One of the best ways to be able to tell when an addict is trying to manipulate someone is to learn about some of the most common reasons addicts try against others. Virtually every scenario involves their needing money for one thing or another, so anytime an addict has some type of story to explain why he or she desperately needs money, you should be suspicious. They often use excuses to which they feel a loved one could never object; a common one is needing money to pay for a doctor’s visit, for instance. Alternately, an addict may need money to pay for sudden car trouble that he or she claims to be having. The incidents are always sudden and extremely severe, and the addict will try to say or do whatever they can to get the money immediately rather than later. The importance of being able to determine when you’re being duped is so that you can ensure that you’re not enabling the addict’s substance abuse problem.
The term “enabler” has become extremely common with regard to addiction, but many people are somewhat unclear as to what it really means. In the plainest of terms, it is when a person either knowingly or unknowingly assists someone in a harmful or self-destructive behavior. For an addict, the primary methods of enabling involve providing an addict with financial support — which is sure to be spent on alcohol or drugs — and trying to be a buffer between an addict and the repercussions that result from his or her behaviors.
Providing money to an addict that’s used for alcohol or drugs means that you’ve contributed to his or her substance abuse. Over time, an enabler allows an addict’s substance abuse problem to become more severe; in other words, an enabler is somewhat responsible for the severity and longevity of an addict’s addiction. Likewise, protecting an addict from the consequences of his or her addiction means that he or she is not experiencing any repercussions from his or her substance abuse. Without repercussions, he or she will have no reason to stop abusing alcohol or drugs since it’s typically the escalation of consequences that cause addicts to eventually seek treatment for addiction.
Do you often find yourself in situations where you or your addict are using manipulation and enabling behaviors? If you or someone you love would like to discuss treatment options with one of our recovery specialists, call Intervention Services toll-free at 877-478-4621. Whether it’s day or night, our team of specialists is always available to help you regain your health, happiness, and sobriety, so don’t wait another day to call us for a free consultation.