Enabling Question – Print 2

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the question is about gambling…

does apply to any & all Addictive & Unacceptable behavior types ie:
Alcohol, Drug Use’ Porn Addiction, etc

the Addict admits to the problem & asks for help there is nothing that can
be done until the addict hits rock bottom

sanity’s sake find a support group to assist with the letting go process
while the addict goes thru the processes & decides to ask for help


Question and Answer

I am married to a compulsive gambler and have heard the
expression “enabler.” Could you help me determine if I am an

"Enabling" can succinctly be defined as "any
action that makes it easier for the gambler to gamble.” We will
outline this often unwitting and well-meaning but nonetheless destructive,
response to gambling problems in four categories: covering up and covering
for the gambler, attempting to control his behavior, bailing him out, and
cooperating with him.

  • Covering up and covering for the gambler. It is only a matter of time
    before bad things begin to happen because of the gambler’s escalating
    condition. A spouse may wan
    t to conceal
    the problems from her family and friends, but in hiding the behavior,
    she is only protecting him from the consequences. It is also inevitable
    that a person with gambling problems will eventually fray his
    relationships at work, with friends, or in the extended family. He may
    miss time on the job for gambling, he may alienate friends or relatives
    by reneging on family responsibilities, and his spouse may take it on
    herself to play a firsthand role in patching up these strained
    relationships. She may call his boss to excuse his tardiness or absence;
    she may take his side when a family member criticizes his behavior. When
    she covers up his behavior in these and other ways, she is deferring the
    consequences of his gambling and indirectly green — lighting his
    further destructive behavior.


  • Attempting to control the gambler’s behavior. It is axiomatic in addiction
    t that the
    addict himself must hit bottom before he can begin the grueling journey
    upward. Once the gambling reaches addiction stage, the gambling controls
    the gambler, not vice versa. People not wanting to be helped will not
    and cannot be helped. Trying to control the gambling, thus, becomes
    largely ineffective and even counterproductive. “Most illnesses
    progress uninterrupted along a predictable path unless effective
    intervention is applied,” writes Mary Heineman. “Because
    many wives do not know they are dealing with an addiction when their
    husbands are gambling compulsively, they believe they can control or
    even cure the problem.” Spouses wanting to control the gambling
    will employ every trick they think might be effective, from hiding car
    keys, to trying to dissuade gambling friends from associating with their
    husbands, to obligating their husbands to frequent, time-consuming
    family affairs, to even withholding conjugal favors. The importan
    t thing
    to remember about attempts to control the gambling is this: They don’t
    work. In addition to giving him the opportunity to blame you for the
    gambling, you offer him the chance to rise up in indignation at some
    perceived slight and go gamble away his pain.


  • Threatening to leave. Even the threat to
    leave him, although usually coming after other tactics have failed, is
    an attemp
    t to control the gambling. A
    gambler in the throes of his addiction would likely see your leaving as
    a godsend — after all, the gambling has taken up residence as the
    monarch of his life, and its requests are his commands. If he had his
    druthers, he’d like to be married to you, but if it’s between you and
    the gambling, you might wan
    t to take
    the gambling and lay the points. "If you say that it’s either
    gambling or me and the kids, Coates says, "be prepared to hear,
    ‘Then I’ll take the gambling.’” Adds John M. Eades, a
    recovering addic
    t trained
    in addiction counseling, “If my wife had left me, that would have
    been perfect, because then I could have felt sorry for myself and
    gambled. In other words, everything is fodder for the gambling



  • Bailing out the gambler. Bailouts come in too many
    forms to number, but all share the same effect: They relieve the gambler
    from facing the consequences of his gambling excesses, and thus they
    arrest his plunge toward his bottom. In order to finally face his
    condition and do something about it, he must be forced to face the
    consequences of his actions, painful though they be. When you reap the
    whirlwind for him, you’re only hurting him, no
    t to
    mention yourself. Bailouts, to, run the gamut of enabling and rescuing
    behavior. They can take the form of your assuming the gambler’s family
    duties — you take the son to football practice instead of him; you
    take the car in for an oil change instead of him — thus freeing
    his time for gambling pursuits. They may also show themselves in a more
    recognizable form: bailing ou
    t the
    gambler monetarily, fixing the financial quandaries he puts himself in.
    To pony up money to pay back a gambling loan, to arrange for a sizable
    bailout from your parents or to cosign a loan at a bank, to mollify
    hounding creditors with your personal monies may alleviate crises short-term,
    t they perpetuate the problem and
    reduce the gambler’s motivation to change. Says Chaplain Killian:
    "You’re not helping them if you bail them out. You’re just allowing
    them the opportunity to go back in there and gamble more. And they will
    do it."


  • Cooperating
    with the gambler.
    other way spouses enable the gambling is by directly or indirectly
    participating in it with him. Not uncommonly, spouses enjoy gambling
    too, and the gambler will tap this enthusiasm to both compromise the
    spouse and justify his own activity. If she goes to the casino with him,
    how hard can she come down on him for his gambling? If the gambler says,
    "What do you mean, we lost forty-five thousand? Then we both have
    to go gamble and try to win it back," you should resis
    t the
    entreaty. On the indirect side, taking gambling-related phone messages
    or in other ways facilitating, or making easier, his gambling also
    applies here."

   Answered by Tom Raabe in House
of Cards

Excerpted from House of Cards by Tom Raabe, published by Tyndale
House Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2001 Focus on the
Family. Used by permission.


is a service of Focus on the Family. It is intended as a practical reference,
and should not be considered as a substitute for advice from medical, mental
health or legal professionals


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