So, you’re a self-proclaimed Mother Teresa type, always offering love and support to those who need it. You’ll even let someone open the door to your delicate vase cabinet.
Suddenly your cousin, nephew, friend, let’s call him Lenny, calls you to share some bad news: they were kicked out of his mother’s home because they were doing drugs, and have no where else to turn. He also got fired from his last job as a waiter for doing drugs on the job. You sense their need for help- and since you feel like Mother Teresa and the ASPCA combined into one entity- you take in this stray individual.
You set down a guideline with this new unconditional love recipient- “You can’t stay here if you do drugs”- seems simple enough. During week 1, Lenny comes home at 2AM looking suspect: eyes beat red, on the verge of nodding off into the coffee table.
“Are you high Lenny,” you ask.
“No, no, no,” Lenny says.
It’s clear as a solar eclipse that Lenny is whacked out of his skull- though you for some delusional reason- give him the benefit of the doubt.
You give Lenny 2 months to shape up, get a job, and move out into an apartment- Lenny works as a waiter, making $600-$700 a week, so it’s totally realistic.
You stay in contact with Lenny’s father, who has been divorced from Lenny’s mother for over a decade.
1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks go by and you still notice the suspicious behavior of Lenny: coming home super late, he looks higher than the moon, bizarre stories about hanging out with random friends.
Lenny starts a new job at The Yummy Grub Diner. You ask Lenny for $100 a month to cover rent and the food he’s eating. Lenny keeps making up reasons why he can’t pay you: I didn’t get paid yet(it’s been 3 weeks since he started a waiter job), I made barely any money in tips. You decide to call Lenny’s father, Paul.
“Have you gotten the checks,” Paul asks.
“What checks,” you ask, unaware.
“I gave Lenny checks for you- signed in your name- for housing my son,” Paul says, becoming bewildered.
“I never got them,” you said.
Paul tells you that he gave Lenny checks for you- signed in your name- for housing his son. Little did you know, Lenny was forging his own name on the checks(impressively changing your name to his like a regular Pablo Picasso), cashing the money- and buying drugs with it. You are shocked, disgusted, appalled- how could he have done this?!?s
You figure that you have to “at least try” to help Lenny. Then it happens, you fall into the trap- maybe he’ll change if I love him enough.
2 months turns into 3, into 4, into 5.
You keep allowing Lenny to stay longer even though, all these sketchy signs are popping up and his clearly bad behavior isn’t improving.
Then it hits you, the unconditional love you were giving Lenny was actually “enabling” behavior masquerading as unconditional love. Falling into this trap will become an endless spiral of confusion, self-denial, pain and burden. Do not be fooled into thinking you can heal drug addicts with your “unaware unconditional love”. The example: Lenny; was taking advantage of your good nature the entire time. Too bad you were completely oblivious to the slippery tactics of Lenny. You were being used for: food, a place to stay (all for free).
Drug addicts WILL NOT help themselves unless THEY CHOOSE to help themselves.
The only way to help such a person is to set firm ground rules, and remove the person if they don’t follow them. For example with Lenny the effective rules might be:
- Be home by “this time”.
- Don’t do drugs.
- Go to “this many” NA/AA Meetings a week (you bring them).
- Demand rent money if you want.
Send the addict to a rehab if you believe that’ll be most helpful and are their legal guardian. Of course if the addict isn’t on your health insurance, you’ll pay an astronomical amount of money if you send them; so get in contact with the legal guardian if appropriate. If the addict has their own health insurance(I highly doubt) then barter them to go to a rehab if they want to stay at your house.