By: Bruce Berman, Vice President – BeWell Network
This is a difficult topic that has affected me personally as a father. Years ago, I had to make a decision to place my then 16-year-old child in a one-year lockdown treatment program. Lockdown treatment is no longer legal in the United States. For a whole year, I struggled with the decision. Did I do the right thing? I DID!
At the end of the year, my teenager said, “You saved my life. One of my friends is now in jail; one is dead; and another is in deep trouble,” and then went on to graduate high school and then a major state university, and is now a productive member of society with a prestigious job, a home and a family.
A Parent’s Love Becomes A Tragedy
Here’s another true story. I came into contact with a family recently, with a 20+ year old son. Let’s call him John. John struggled with opiates use and never held a real job. The parents allowed John to live in their home. They believed they were doing what’s good for their child, and they did not know that John was selling drugs to support his habit. What they were concerned about was that if they kicked him out of their home, something bad would happen to him.
What happened next was a tragedy! Two people broke into John’s parents house to rob John of his drug money. In the process, they tied up his mother and killed his father.
I eventually placed John into treatment a month after he was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to distribute drugs a few days after the incident.
Are you Enabling?
Are you standing in the way of your addict from hitting bottom and seeking treatment? If the answer is yes, then you’re enabling.
Are you paying for or buying things for an addict that allows them to spend more money on drugs and/or alcohol? If the answer is yes, then you’re enabling.
It’s as simple as that.
Here are other things you should watch out for:
- Asking for a new phone: The last thing an addict will sell to buy drugs is their phone. They need their phone to get drugs. If you pay their phone bill you are actually making it easier for them to buy drugs and feed their addiction. If they tell you their phone was lost or stolen, that really means, “I traded my phone for drugs.” Don’t buy them a new phone!
- Bailing out of jail: Jail is a horrible place to be. But jail is a lot safer for an addict than being on the streets where they can buy drugs. Only bail your child out of jail if they agree to go directly from jail to treatment. Have the facility all set up and your child’s suitcase all packed up before you pick them up and send them to treatment, ideally somewhere far so they won’t be able to leave. If your child bolts and doesn’t go to treatment, don’t bail them out again.
- Paying for car, insurance or gas: A car is an addict’s second favorite possession. It is a place of shelter, a place to use drugs and a way to get drugs. If you pay for gas, you are allowing them to buy more drugs. If your loved one asks you for $10 for gas, that is $10, of their own money, they can spend on drugs.
- Giving them clothes: You may think that your child needs shoes, jacket, clothes, etc. for work or to keep warm. But an addict will trade those new shoes and clothes you gave them for drugs. And if you keep buying things for them, they won’t know what it’s like to hit bottom and they won’t ask for help.
- Buying them food: This may seem harsh, but the odds are 15 to 1 that your child would die from drug use before they die from starvation. You may think that buying them food is harmless, but it’s not really. Everything you do to help addict lengthens the time they’re risking their lives before they hit bottom.
So, are you enabling? Most likely, the answer is yes. Enough is enough. Find a treatment center for your child or loved one. It will save their lives.
Do you have a question for the author of this article? Simply, type in your inquiry in the chat box below. Bruce will get back to you within 24-hours.
About Bruce Berman
Bruce has personally assisted hundreds of people into treatment for alcohol, substance abuse, and mental health. He has been in continuous recovery since September 1989. Besides himself, he has also placed his children, employees, family members, friends and other loved ones into various treatment programs. Whether you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Bruce has most likely dealt with a similar situation in the past. Bruce is a father of four children and is happily married to his wife, Victoria, who has also been in recovery since November 1995.