As a person in long term recovery from depression, suicide and substance use disorders, my wife was an enabler. The definition of enabling in relation to addiction is to give someone the authority or means to continue to use drugs.
Giving Them Money - Those who suffer from this disease of addiction will beg, plead and maybe even threaten to get money. Also, they may use excuses such as needing medical attention, hungry, gas and so on.... You must understand that any money that is given to them will be used for the purpose of supporting the drug habit. My wife would give me money and make excuses for me. I would tell my wife that I would be attending three day conferences and she would convince others that i was at a conference while I was out using drugs. Finally she stopped making excuses and no longer gave me money. My entire family stopped giving me money.
Paying for a Car - The Car, insurance and gas may be needed for work and/or school. However, the car is also needed to meet up with the dealers and possibly transport drugs from one to another. I used my car many times to go get my drugs. Finally, during a moment of sobriety when I realized that I needed help.... I surrendered my car keys to my wife and told her not to give me the keys back to me. The car was a huge trigger and major transport to access getting my drugs.
Paying for a Phone Having a phone allows the individual to get in touch with dealers or those who can obtain the drugs. Personally, I was aware that having a phone was a problem. Many times I would throw my phone away. Yet I still managed to get a new phone and find the numbers to access the drugs. I had to surrender my phone in order for me to truly get onto the path of recovery. The same applies for all electronic devices. Having a phone for myself allowed me to remain in contact with my connections as well as the computer etc....
Paying For or Providing A Place to Live - Providing rent, utilities and motel room or a room in your home only provides those who struggle with substance use disorder a place to use his/her drugs. Individuals will bring drugs into the home and will get high. He/she may even overdose in the home. I personally worked with Michael Gilbert (24 yrs old). Michael died from an overdose in April 2015. His brother Josh Gilbert died from an overdose eight months prior to Michael's death.
Both brothers and both used drugs in the home everyday. They both died in their home.
Bailing Them Out of Jail - Bailing an individual out of jail and bringing him/her home only enables them to continue the behavior of using drugs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Someone who is struggling with this disease of addiction will try to bring up your past mistakes in order to give them an excuse to continue to use drugs.
Loving Those Who Struggle With The Disease of Addiction:
Giving Them Food - Meet your son/daughter and take them out to eat and get a meal. This allows you as the parent to stay connected to them. Also giving you the opportunity to see
if he/she has had enough with the issues of addiction.
Seeking Professional Help - Contact an interventionist. A professional interventionist dramatically increases the chances of getting your son/daughter into treatment. My wife contacted our church Pastor to meet with us then the church counselor which eventually led me onto the path of intensive outpatient.
Getting Treatment - If your son/daughter had a life threatening illness you would do anything to get the illness into remission. The same applies for addiction. Treatment can put the disease of addiction into remission. Paying for rehab is much better than paying for a funeral.
Answer the Phone - Always stay strong and tell him/her how much you miss and love them. Always take an opportunity to ask if he/she is ready for treatment. He/she may not be ready at that moment yet may plant the seed and he/she may change his/her mind at any moment.
Treating Addiction Like The Disease It Is: Hoping that someone will just stop using drugs only makes the individual stay sick longer and causes the family to continue the enabling behavior. Educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of addiction will increase the chances of getting your friend or loved one into treatment that will treat the disease.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Quit making excuses for your addicted son/daughter. Hold them accountable for his/her bad choices. Yet always demonstrate and express love.