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.
Emotional stability in recovery is also known as emotional sobriety. Emotional sobriety is different than merely sobriety. Emotion stability in recovery is a set of skills that are absolutely vital to staying sober. It is the foundation upon which an individual will live their lives and continue the long-term journey of recovery. Emotional stability in recovery includes:
Being aware and at ease with emotions
Having a stable mood
Developing enduring and satisfying relationships
Having an optimistic outlook
Achieving a balance between body, mind, spirit, relationships and more
Feeling calm during times of stress
Coping with difficult emotions such as fear, hurt, sadness, and frustration
Emotional stability in recovery comes slowly over time. Just stopping the use of drugs and alcohol does not automatically give someone emotional stability. Those people who are addicts and alcoholics are often out of touch with themselves and how to take care of themselves emotionally. Emotional instability even once an addict or alcoholic is sober may be from loss, neglect, abuse, trauma, etc. Most addicts and alcoholics want to avoid emotions at all costs and this becomes glaringly apparent when they get clean and have to feel everything. Emotional stability is the want and need to feel emotions without having to use when normally an addict or alcoholic would. Even in sobriety addicts and alcoholics who are dealing with emotions can find themselves not necessarily getting high or drunk but engaging in emotionally unstable activities such as overeating, purging, gambling, promiscuity, etc. to try and achieve a sense of gratification or escape from their emotions instead of having the emotional stability in recovery to deal with them.
What is emotional stability in recovery so important?
Emotional stability in recovery is going to allow an individual to avoid relapse
It will allow a person to recognize and work with their emotions as teachers that are there to tell them what they need, whether their needs are being and what circumstances in life need to be changed in order to meet those needs and whether those needs are even healthy.
Emotional stability in recovery is important because it is the development of confidence, satisfaction and resilience that only comes from dealing with emotions directly and effectively rather than using drugs or alcohol to deal with them.
Emotional stability in recovery allows a sober person to become the person they want to be. Their actions are now able to be congruent with their morals and values as well as their aspirations for life.
Developing emotional stability in recovery take times and it does not in any capacity happen overnight. Emotional stability in recovery starts with having a full grasp of what recovery actually means and recovery doesn’t just mean staying clean or away from drugs and alcohol. Emotional stability in recovery is just that-stable emotions along with the end of all addictive behaviors. Recovery means being able to accept emotions and get out of pessimistic thinking without self-medication with substances, compulsive behaviors, sex, etc.
Emotional stability in recovery comes with practice and the want to progress on a daily basis towards a new way of living. Emotional stability in recovery is also more easily achieved with outside help and support group which is why it is highly recommended that individuals in recovery have a large sober network of people who they know. Emotional stability will come for all addicts and alcoholics if they are willing to put the work in.