Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Enabling

A woman in recovery told me an interesting story yesterday. It was about how her parents enabled her all of her life. They never wanted her to be without or suffer. And it wasn't until they both died at an advanced age that she was able to get sober.

Often I write of the dangers of enabling our children by not holding them accountable. By not allowing them to be responsible for their lives.

Many residents of TLC only came to us after everyone else was through with them - including their parents.

It's easy to understand how parents get into enabling. Many of them feel they owe their children because they weren't able to give them the best upbringing. Maybe they were poor. Or divorced. Perhaps they were addicts themselves.

In any case, they get the subconscious idea that had they raised the child differently they wouldn't have become an addict.

So when they discover the child is an addict they procrastinate. They allow them to live at home even though they know they're using.

They're afraid to give an ultimatum because they fear losing their love. Or they're afraid the child might overdose before getting help. The scenarios are endless.

I generally suggest parents tell their child they'll help them get into recovery. But if that doesn't work, then they're done. No more help. No more using the car. Or sleeping on the couch. No more handouts.

Some don't have the stomach to take this strong of a position. But I know that once my family and others quit helping me over 25 years ago it changed my life. At first I was angry. I thought they didn't love me.

Today I know how much they really did care.