3 Ways You Are Enabling Newcomers

3 Ways You Are Enabling Newcomers

Most of the time when you think of enabling and enablers, especially when it comes to addicts and alcoholics you think of the family or loved ones. But enabling is something that can happen between any people in any type of relationship, including the relationship between newcomers and people with more clean time.

So what is enabling?

Enabling is “removing the natural consequences to the newcomer of his or her behavior.” People with more clean time will often feel compelled to solve a newcomer’s problems. If they’re involved with them deeply, they usually end up taking on the irresponsible addict’s responsibilities. Their behavior starts as a well-intentioned desire to help, but in later stages of addiction, they act out of desperation. The dynamics between friends, newcomer and person with more clean time or even sponsor and sponsee, become skewed, so that the person with more clean time increasingly over-functions and the newcomer increasingly under-functions. This builds resentment on both sides, along with the newcomer’s expectation that the person with more clean time will continue to make things right when they doesn’t meet his or her responsibilities.

Here are 3 ways you are enabling newcomers:

  • Giving them money: Most newcomers are broke. For the most part this is usually true. They have no job and have been scrounging up money most of their lives to fund their drinking or using habit. It can seem really tempting to give a newcomer money but this is enabling them. A newcomer needs to learn how to stand on their own two feet, especially when it comes to money. They should be finding a job and won’t have the drive or desperation to if they aren’t suffering the consequences of having no money.
  • Fulfilling their commitments to others: If a newcomer has made a commitment to be somewhere and can’t show up you don’t show up for them. You also don’t save them if for some reason they want to flake out on a ride somewhere. A way you are enabling a newcomer is by making excuses for them. Let them handle their own responsibilities and suffer the consequences if they are being accountable. This is how a newcomer will learn.
  • Bailing them out of jail: If for whatever reason a newcomer you know relapses and goes to jail or relapses in a halfway house and has nowhere to go. Enabling is letting them stay in the halfway house and enabling is bailing them out of jail. This is another scenario where letting them suffer the consequences is when they will learn. It is not your job to save them or make sure they don’t have to deal with the pain of their decisions. If a newcomer chooses to relapse they know the rules of the halfway house and the law so if they end up paying for that; they should deal with the consequences.

Enabling a newcomer can be very dangerous because they are teetering a fine line of trying to stay sober but not sure if they want to be sober. Enabling can make it easy for them to do what they want and stay in sick behavior. They will begin getting well when they have to suffer their own consequences and learn from their mistakes instead of being saved from them.



Should a Sponsor become “friends” with their Sponsee?

Should a Sponsor become friends with a Sponsee?Should a Sponsor become “friends” with their Sponsee?

This is a debated subject among people in recovery. I don’t think there is any hard rule on the subject, but people definitely have their own opinions about it. I once had a close friend ask me to be her sponsor. I didn’t know what to tell her so I called my sponsor. My sponsor told me in no uncertain terms that we don’t say “no” to anyone who wants help. If my friend had decided that she was able to be completely honest with me in a sponsor-sponsee relationship, who was I to say no? My job was to offer help to anyone who wanted it.

Should a Sponsor become “friends” with their Sponsee?  A Sponsor is…

Alcoholics Anonymous defines sponsor is an alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery program who shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A.  Sponsorship responsibility is unwritten and informal, but it is a basic part of the A.A. approach to recovery from alcoholism through the Twelve Steps.

Should a Sponsor become “friends” with their Sponsee? A Sponsor is not…

You’re sponsor will not keep you sober. Your sponsor is there to put your hand in God’s hand. You don’t need to be best friends with your sponsor in order to recover. All you need is the capacity to be honest. A sponsor is also not a therapist or a psychologist. All a sponsor can do is share their experience, strength, and hope.  A sponsor is also not there to lend money, drive you around, or tell you what to do. They are simply there to give suggestions based on experience.

Should a Sponsor become “friends” with their Sponsee? What does A.A. say?

Alcoholic Anonymous –approved literature says that “Sponsorship gives the newcomer and understanding, sympathetic friend when one is needed most.” So yes, your sponsor is your friend. How close that friendship is depends entirely on how well your personalities mesh. I’ve had sponsees that I have become very good friends with. I’ve also had sponsees that I only saw when we were doing step work. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to sponsor and sponsee relationships. You do not need to be good friends with your sponsor in order for him or her to take you through twelve steps, but it is okay if you are.

Should a Sponsor become “friends” with their Sponsee? When the lines become blurred…

Some very close relationships between a sponsor and sponsee can be dangerous however. A sponsor and sponsee should never have a co-dependent friendship. A sponsee’s dependence should be on God. Similarly, if a friendship becomes close to the point that the sponsee does not feel that he or she can be completely honest with their sponsor, it may be time for the sponsee to get a new sponsor. A sponsor-sponsee relationship should be an open, honest relationship where both parties are comfortable enough to speak freely.