Enabling Addiction v. Supporting Recovery

Sometimes the line between these two is very vague.  And sometimes it’s just me and my denial sitting down for afternoon tea.  I don’t know – so I’m asking your opinion.  Here’s the scenario:

Back in October, before Al’s first rehab stint, he shoplifted a $50 item from a store.  He got caught.  He went to court.  He was sentenced to one 8-hour class and told if he stays out of trouble for a year the charge would go away.  Also, the store sent him a fine for $250.  The class is in a week and the fine is coming due soon.  But, Al is in rehab in another state, and he cannot make long-distance calls for more than a few minutes.  (He can receive them, but not make them).

I want to (a) call the court and defer the class until after his rehab is over and (b) contact the store’s legal department and defer the paying of the fine until he can get out and talk to them himself and perhaps set up a payment plan.  I would make these initial calls for him.  I’m not trying to get him out of these things, but I want him to have a full rehab experience without having to leave rehab for three days to go back to colorado, take the class, and be driven back to Kansas.  Plus I don’t want him to be back in the old neighborhood any sooner than necessary.  That was part of the point of sending him so far away.

His dad says I’m enabling if I make these calls for him.  He says the addict has to handle all consequences himself … and if he gets in more trouble because he can’t make the appropriate calls from where he is, so be it.

We have about a week to decide our strategy.  So — opinions?  I’m polling the crowd!. (have a blessed day!)

8 responses to “Enabling Addiction v. Supporting Recovery

  1. send him a prepaid cell phone to his COUNSELOR so that your son can deal with his own problems himself. As Ron Grover would say, is it a hand UP or a hand OUT.

    giving him the ability to call himself is a hand UP, calling for him is a hand OUT.

    call and ask the counselor first and see what he says too.

  2. He may not be able to sit on the phone with the court long enough to resolve the situation, but he has the ability to call you to ASK for help, or to use his resources at the rehab to handle these problems. Helping before he asks sends him the message that you don’t think he’s capable of doing it for himself – so why try?

    • I think that he has no idea these things are coming up. I do think it’s ok to let him know, and then see if he asks for help. But you’re right – i don’t think he’s capable of doing it himself! And that’s my problem. I do need give him the dignity of dealing with his own stuff and showing how capable he is. Thanks.

  3. I Yi Yi!! This is where I struggle and find trouble if I’m not very careful myself. I agree with what the others have said and I love Dawn’s suggestion. I talked to my therapist about enabling and she defined it for me as doing something for someone that they are capable of doing for themselves. So, I’m not going with Dawn, send him a pre-paid phone and the phone numbers he’ll need. I tell myself often that my son will never be able to stand on his own two feet and know what he’s capable of if I don’t step aside and give him those opportunities. I also keep reminding myself that I’m not going to be around forever to take of care him so he needs to be able to take care of himself for his own peace of mind and dignity. We all have to live on life’s terms. I know I’m preaching to the choir!! Ha Ha!!

  4. I agree with Kristi, that he should do this himself he has the means to do so. Sending him a phone care would be perfect. I have a son who has been a addict for 12year many treatments centres and today he is sober. I used think he wasn’t capable of handling situations until I stopped doing it for him. He is learning and will realize that he only is responsible for his life and I think he has actually matured by doing so.

    I love this site! It has helped me so much. Have a great day all.

  5. Thanks Everyone! I knew there was a middle ground between doing absolutely nothing and doing it for him. I’m going to talk to him tonight. I feel so much better!

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