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.