holiday enabling

Accidentally Enabling During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time for family and friends to celebrate together. While most people look forward to the holidays all year, substance abuse can complicate things for everyone involved. Out of love and well-meaning intent, you might attempt to support someone with an active addiction, but instead, you could accidentally encourage them by allowing their behavior to continue unchecked. Here are some examples of holiday enabling to avoid this year.

1. Giving Money as a Gift

Young men can be tricky to shop for. As a result, you may take the easy route and leave an envelope of cash in your son’s stocking. However, once you’ve done that, you can no longer control what he chooses to spend it on. Since drug and alcohol use is an expensive habit to maintain, someone in the grips of active addiction may feel compelled to spend any spare money that comes into their hands on drugs or alcohol.

2. Serving Alcohol at Holiday Parties

For many people, alcohol is synonymous with the holiday season. You might stock up on beer, wine or liquor before hosting a large party or even a small family gathering. Some adults mistakenly believe it is possible to “teach” their children to drink responsibly by letting them have a small amount of alcohol on special occasions. However, it is illegal for people under age 21 to drink alcohol in Tennessee, even under adult supervision. Holiday enabling includes allowing an underaged person to have easy access to alcohol.

3. Hiding a Teen’s Substance Use Problem

Addiction is a family disease that can harm you even if you don’t struggle with mental or behavioral problems yourself. Living with an addicted young person is extremely stressful. As a parent, you may blame yourself for your son’s issues. It can be tempting to numb the pain by trying to pretend there is nothing wrong, making up convincing excuses for your son’s erratic behavior to save face. Ultimately, this denial is also a form of holiday enabling because it allows the self-destruction to continue.

4. Ignoring Boundaries

Setting boundaries with an addicted loved one is a valuable strategy because it defines what you will and won’t tolerate in your relationship. Still, no matter how carefully you’ve outlined and maintained these, they may slip by the wayside during this hectic time of year.  If you continue to allow them to break rules, they may never experience any adverse effects of abusing substances. Staying firm and steadfast in enforcing your boundaries can help avoid holiday enabling.

Transform Your Son’s Life at ARCH Academy

When you care deeply about someone’s happiness, it can be challenging to tell the difference between helping and enabling a loved one in their struggle with addiction. Recognizing when you are letting the cycle perpetuate itself can help you come to terms with the dysfunction at the heart of your family.

Even during the holiday season, you should hold your loved ones accountable for their actions. Instead of buying physical presents, give the gift of helping your son get into a treatment program that will improve every facet of his life.  

It’s never too late to speak up and make a difference. If you stop holiday enabling today, you can set yourself and your family up for a lifetime of happy and healthy holiday seasons to come. Reach out to us when you’re ready to learn more.