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Addiction Campuses hits enabling behaviors head-on

February 5, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The Addiction Campuses treatment organization has released a hard-hitting infographic that takes a direct attack on what it calls the number one cause of death in addiction: enabling.

Aimed primarily at the loved ones of individuals battling an addiction, the infographic responds to what Addiction Campuses officials say they are seeing over and over again as family members seek information about their facilities (Addiction Campuses operates programs in Tennessee and Mississippi and is expected this month to open its third center, a 60-bed Texas facility outside of Dallas).

“One of the things we're seeing a whole lot with people calling our center is they want to know how to show that they love the person and still help them most effectively,” says Jason Brooks, PhD, who performs clinical and managerial roles at Addiction Campuses under the title “chief people officer.” “They have poured so much into this and they don't know what else to do.”

Titled “Enabling Addiction: Are You Loving Someone to Death?”, the infographic lists five ways in which a loved one enables and five ways in which a loved one loves. Under the enabling behavior “Giving Money When Asked,” the text reads, “They will beg, plead, and threaten. They will say they are starving, need medical attention, or need gas. Be aware—they are using that money to support their habit.”

Under the loving behavior “Giving Them Food,” conversely, the text reads, “Meet your son at a restaurant and buy him a meal. It provides you the opportunity to stay connected and ask if he's had enough of his addiction.”

The infographic, which includes a toll-free phone number and the message “Don't wait until it's too late,” is intentionally personal—some might even say confrontational. “We want to shake people to get their attention,” Brooks says. But he adds that it is being released this month in conjunction with other information about treatment for families, so the overall mission is to educate and not simply to provoke. The organization's marketing staff worked to craft the language, he says.

Brooks adds, “In some ways, if you take a soft approach, you're almost enabling the codependency. Sometimes you have to send a hard message.”

Other behaviors

The other enabling behaviors cited in the infographic are “Paying for a Car,” “Paying for a Phone” (“His cell phone contains the numbers to dealers. Providing the phone helps him get high”), “Paying for Or Providing a Place to Live,” and “Bailing Them Out of Jail” (“Help her by not bailing her out”).

The other loving behaviors are “Seeking Professional Help” (“Contact an interventionist. A professional intervention dramatically increases your chances of getting your loved one into treatment”), “Getting Treatment” (“If she had cancer, you would do anything to get it into remission”), “Answering the Phone,” and “Treating Addiction Like the Disease It Is.”

Addiction Campuses is focusing on the topic of loving the individual in a healthy way in the month of February, with the free downloadable infographic and other awareness materials. Schools, employers and the media are among the targets to receive and share the information.