Monthly Archives: September 2015

No mystery about another homeless man drowning in Boulder Creek, and more


By Max R. Weller

See the latest update: Family of Boulder man, 22, found dead in creek: ‘He had his whole life in front of him’ in the Daily Camera. Quoting from the article below:

The Boulder County Coroner’s Office identified the man found in the water near the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., as Paul William Sanchez.

The coroner will conduct an autopsy to help determine the cause and manner of his death.

A passerby noticed Sanchez floating on his back in the middle of Boulder Creek near the library Monday morning. Boulder police do not suspect foul play.

[Sanchez’s cousin, Steven Burton] said Sanchez most likely was living on the streets (emphasis is mine — MRW), noting he was an outdoor kind of person who loved playing sports and “never sat still and was always active.”

The homeless lifestyle is NOT conducive to a long life expectancy, and is fraught with all sorts of dangers. We can hope that this young man is allowed to rest in peace now, and his unfortunate death won’t be exploited by the usual suspects (see below) seeking to promote an expansion of the local homeless shelter/services industry.

Speaking of one of the devils, has Joy Eckstine Redstone decided to quit her new gig as a DC columnist? Her only column to this point, about suicide, was published on 8/11/2015:


I’d like her to write about her twisted relationship with convicted rapist Jim Budd, and offer a PUBLIC APOLOGY for her role in promoting this sociopath to the extent that she did — first at Carriage House/Bridge House and later at Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow. Joy might also offer a sincere expression of sympathy to Budd’s victim, who worked as a volunteer at CH/BH.

Please, don’t hurt the feelings of Boulder City Council members:

Read the DC’s report: Decrying ‘vitriol,’ Boulder council decides Folsom will return to 4 lanes. Excerpt below:

Boulder City Council members criticized the community for the vitriolic tone of emails they had received from both sides of the “right-sizing” issue, before backing a transportation staff recommendation to remove protected bike lanes and return to four lanes of vehicle traffic on four blocks of Folsom Street.

“It’s hard to go to sleep at night because you’ve been insulted so badly,” Councilwoman Mary Young said Tuesday night. “I feel like I’m living among a bunch of people who feel entitled to their own without consideration for others. I want you to think about that.”

Councilwoman Lisa Morzel, who pushed for the city to roll back the right-sizing project, said the tone of the debate had set back the cause of bicycle infrastructure, and she criticized bicycle advocates dressed in black who were tweeting about the meeting from the front row.

“My concern with all this vitriol is that it pushes everyone into their own corners and it pushes us backwards, and we can’t make progress on bike and pedestrian safety,” she said.

But Morzel rejected the idea that the city is “abandoning” the Folsom project.

“That is not the case,” she said.

Boulder City Council members (except for George K.) brought this on themselves, and now they’re crying because citizens are outraged? WUSSES! Grow a thicker skin, Mary Young; Lisa Morzel, your image should be on the $3 bill . . .

Tonight at my campsite: ham salad with crackers.

Changes to the Daily Camera website, and more


By Max R. Weller

(Mark Leffingwell, Daily Camera Staff Photographer)

I noticed this morning, when I wanted to check out readers’ comments following this story — Body of young man pulled from Boulder Creek near main library — that the Daily Camera has switched its login procedure for anyone wishing to comment. Now, the DC is sharing the Disqus system used by the Denver Post which requires a Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, or Google account. Certainly, this is a step in the right direction towards holding commenters accountable for inappropriate (and sometimes vaguely threatening) remarks. Still, a direct Facebook login would be best; almost nobody would want to risk having their Facebook account suspended or deleted permanently just to tell the Homeless Philosopher that he’s going to spend the rest of his life in a facility for the criminally insane (apparently for criticizing Boulder’s homeless shelter/services industry, because my 5-year sentence and parole for real crimes ended in January, 2008).

BTW, I signed up for Disqus but have no plans to comment on the DC’s website.

As if it were needed, here’s further evidence that U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) is a nincompoop: Boulder Rep. Jared Polis: Limited number of seats for GOP debate ‘insulting’ in the DC. I doubt that Republicans are going to lie awake at night worrying about the opinion of someone who is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party:


Come on, Jared, when are you going to marry your partner and give your two kids a real family? Do you support Gay Marriage or not? If you can’t provide leadership BY EXAMPLE on this issue, you’re a HYPOCRITE as well as a ninny.

I’m enjoying my new campsite . . . I can’t say that I’m still enjoying my usual spot in the 4900 block of N. Broadway, not with a drunken party every day underneath the nearby pine trees on Dakota Ridge’s property. Will someone in authority please do something about these bums?

Daily Camera does NOT endorse a single incumbent for Boulder City Council, and more


By Max R. Weller

Amazing turnaround by the Daily Camera’s editorial board, led by newcomer Dave Krieger! Read Editorial: For Boulder City Council. Quoting from the opinion piece below:

We do not endorse any incumbent running for re-election, but we thank all three for the grace they showed in coming to see us, knowing we were not a sympathetic audience. In particular, Lisa Morzel’s 16 years on council represent a level of dedication to her community that deserves our thanks. We disagree with her and colleagues Suzanne Jones and Tim Plass on too many issues to endorse them, but we express appreciation for their service.

This is a great example of “damning with faint praise” and it gave me a hearty chuckle. Lisa Morzel is just about the most disingenuous, two-faced politician I’ve encountered anywhere; she tells you what you want to hear, then goes her own way. It’s Morzel, more than any other individual, who kept the north Boulder neighborhood along N. Broadway from having an affordable Safeway grocery store and a full-size branch of Boulder Public Library (Safeway was ready to donate the prime piece of real estate for a library to benefit the community).

Here’s who the DC does endorse:

We were inspired and encouraged by the energy and conviction of all the candidates. If the city were to elect our full slate, we feel confident it would awake the morning after Election Day to a less ideological, more competent, more sensible council. To achieve that end, we recommend that Boulder voters elect Michael Kruteck, Jan Burton, Julianne McCabe, Don Cote and Aaron Brockett to the seats up for election Nov. 3.

Of course, it’s going to be an uphill battle to unseat the three incumbents who are running for re-election, regardless of the DC finally growing a pair of cojones.

Frankly, I’m NOT opposed to growth of any kind and won’t argue about the issue, which seems to be generating such controversy at this time.

Boulder Shelter for the Homeless will be opening their men’s and women’s emergency overnight dorms this Thursday night, October 1st. Perhaps you’re wondering what you could do to help a transient who will be arriving in our fair city:


WHAT A SCAM! It amounts to a short-term and interest-free loan of millions of dollars, given that tickets were sold for events all over America featuring the Dalai Lama. Read: Dalai Lama cancels next month’s Boulder visit over health concerns. From the report:

Citing medical reasons, the Dalai Lama is canceling his planned visit to Boulder and the University of Colorado next month.

The Tibetan spiritual leader will not be able to attend any of his planned events in the United States next month after a medical evaluation at the Mayo Clinic on Thursday, CU officials said.

“Upon completion of the evaluation, the doctors have advised that His Holiness take complete rest,” according to a statement from the Office of Tibet provided by CU. “As a result, His Holiness will be returning to Dharamsala, India, next week and will not be able to visit the United States next month. We deeply regret cancellation of the visit.”

Here’s the kicker — they still want your money:

. . . the Tibetan Association of Colorado will refund every ticket, including those considered “sponsor” tickets, which ranged in price from $250 to $2,500.

The association will also be asking for donations, as it invested most of its savings in preparation of the Dalai Lama’s visit. The association is unsure at this point if it will get deposits back for things like parking and transportation services, Tashi said.

“Right now we are in a very serious position negatively, very serious in terms of finance,” Tashi said. “We have put almost everything into the event, and we don’t have any way to recover it, except if we get support from all the community members.”

I’ve always thought that the Dalai Lama and Rev. Moon were actually the same man, in different guises:


The Dalai Lama


Reverend Moon

I’ll make a pair of suggestions for readers of this blog who live in the Dakota Ridge neighborhood, which has become a gathering place for some of the worst-behaved inebriates in Boulder: 1) Request that the HOA reset the timer on lawn sprinklers at N. Broadway & Laramie to come on around 10AM, which is when the drunkards start to pass the jug around; and 2) Also ask that they cut off branches from the three pine trees along the sidewalk there at least 6′ above the ground, so anyone passed out underneath them can be easily spotted by the city police.

BTW, I’ve moved away from my campsite of the past two years, and am now enjoying a more secluded spot nearby. It’s a much longer walk to get to BSH for my morning shower, but the added exercise will do me good.

That’s all for now, folks . . .

More on Tiny Houses as an alternative to the 1175 Lee Hill boondoggle


By Max R. Weller

Read about Opportunity Village in Eugene, OR. Quoting from their website below:

Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE) opened in August 2013 as a “transitional micro-housing” pilot project. The vision was to create a collaboration between the housed and unhoused that provides stable and safe places to be through cost-effective, human-scale approaches for transitioning the unhoused to more sustainable living situations. 

It accommodates around 30 otherwise homeless individuals and couples at a time in simple, micro-housing (60-80sf) that provides residents with security, stability, and privacy. By consolidating utilities to common cooking, gathering, restroom, and laundry facilities we were able to keep costs very low, providing an intermediate solution between the street and traditional housing. 

OVE is a self-governed, peer-supported community with oversight provided by SquareOne Villages. 

A Community Agreement lays out the basic rules of the village, while an ever evolving Village Manual outlines the policies and procedures for operating and maintaining the village.

5 Basic Rules

  • No violence 

  • No theft

  • No alcohol or illegal drugs on-site

  • No persistent, disruptive behavior

  • Everyone must contribute to the operation and maintenance of the Village. 

What you get:

  • A small, safe and private space to call your own

  • Access to common kitchen, bath, laundry, gathering, and workshop facilities

  • Computer and wi-fi access

  • Quarterly bus pass 

What you give:

  • $30/month utility fee

  • 8 hours/week of front desk duty

  • 2 hours/week towards community improvement

  • Clean community bathroom once a month

  • Attendance at the weekly village meeting 



See an aerial view, to get an idea of how this project fits into the community:


It’s clear to me that both Eugene, OR and Madison, WI are truly progressive cities in terms of dealing with homelessness.

Boulder, CO? ROTFL! Boulderites are only giving lip service to progressivism . . .

BUM FIGHT over panhandling at N. Broadway & U.S. 36


By Max R. Weller


When I returned to my north Boulder neighborhood around noon yesterday, I found that a rival drunken crew was camped out underneath the pine trees belonging to the Dakota Ridge HOA, led by Renee — the homeless white female who squatted and pissed on the sidewalk there just three days ago. Her crew members included Drunk Steve (formerly part of Donna’s Drunken Crew) and some scurvy bum who calls himself “Irish” — and indeed he’s obviously an alcoholic.

No matter to me; I ate my lunch and waited the short time it took for Irish, Renee, and Steve to each take a turn “flying a sign” on the corner. All of the inebriates are such weaklings that they can’t stand upright in the hot sun, on the concrete median between asphalt roadways, for much longer than 20 minutes each. As I was watching the world go by and biding my time on the wall in front of the Mexican restaurant, one of the white male pedophiles and his Native American girlfriend showed up and sat down right next to me (these two were also a part of Donna’s Drunken Crew until recently). I agreed that this 60-year-old guy was next in line after me, and I mentioned our intentions to the rivals, who voiced no objection. When Renee’s Drunken Crew were finished, I went out and put in my usual hour or so.

NOTE: As always, the presence of a bunch of homeless people hanging around was bad for business, because it offends the passersby who are always friendly to a solitary panhandler.

As I came off the corner, expecting things to proceed as we’d planned, this Irish character started back out to U.S. 36 instead. I told him that another man was in line ahead of him and he replied, pointing to their wallow under the pine trees, “The line starts over there.” I shook my head and said, “This is how trouble starts.” It didn’t involve me directly, so I returned to my spot on the wall.

The 60-year-old man who was being cheated out of his turn by Irish took great umbrage at being disrespected so brazenly. He marched out to the corner, heated words were exchanged, and the Old Guy struck the much younger Irish twice in the face, then grabbed him by the ponytail and swung him around and down into the southbound lanes of N. Broadway. No traffic happened to be in the way to run him down — but the loss of this Irish bum wouldn’t have been cause for grief, not as far as I’m concerned. At this point in Round 1, Renee intervened and both OG and Irish returned to their separate corners.

OG continued yelling insults and challenges toward the pine trees about 50′ farther north along the sidewalk from where we sat, and pretty soon Irish and Steve came towards us. I immediately discounted Steve, who is tall but about as tough as a kitten. I figured that OG and Irish could settle it themselves, and get it out of their systems. In Round 2, Irish got the better of it, apparently by using his girly-length fingernails to scratch OG’s face; there was a fair amount of blood, which OG’s  girlfriend scrubbed off his face, by using an old sock moistened with water (I presume it was water — had it been rotgut vodka OG would have screamed in pain).

In any case, Renee’s Drunken Crew then gave up the corner and went on to wherever they might spread more Peace and Love to their fellow men. Strangely, nobody who witnessed this drunken fiasco called 9-1-1.

It’s absurd that more than a dozen would-be panhandlers flocked to this one corner during the course of the day, and that’s just the bums I personally counted between noon and shortly after 5PM when I left for my campsite. Several of ’em are in the various programs at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. You have to wonder what in blazes they’re supposed to be in “transition” to . . . Ask Greg Harms, the executive director who makes $90,000+ annually.

There’s a better way than the 1175 Lee Hill boondoggle


By Max R. Weller

By now, everyone who cares about the subject of housing the hundreds of currently homeless people in Boulder County is aware that the 31-unit Housing First project at 1175 Lee Hill — right next door to Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and directly across the street from Boulder Housing Partners — is prohibitively expensive, costing well over $200,000 per unit up front with substantial ongoing annual costs for staffing the facility 24/7/365. There has to be a better way to house homeless single adults than this! And a better way than the homeless people’s warehouse approach which robs them of both dignity and self-respect:


Men’s bedbug-infested emergency dorm at BSH.

Luckily, various organizations in truly progressive cities across America are showing us how to deal with this issue in a cost-effective way:


Tiny Houses by OM Build in Madison, WI. Cost: $5,000 each!

Could America End Homelessness Quickly By Doing This? Quoting from the article below:

With help from the community Occupy Madison has built nine tiny houses, a day resource center, laundry facilities and a community gardening space in the village. Each tiny house is 96 square feet and is made of recycled and reclaimed materials. They include a bed, a toilet, solar panels for electricity and propane heat. Each house costs around $5,000 to build, the money was raised with private donations.

Continuing excerpt:

“Rather than taking people form the streets and putting them in a building, we thought we could work together to create our own structures,” says Luca Clemente, with Occupy Madison for WKOW in Madison. “We don’t give houses to homeless people, we enable people to build their own houses to create their own futures.”

The village is located on a piece of commercial property and is paid for by private donations. The members of Occupy Madison won the approval from the city with assistance from many different local supporters. Much of the support came from other non-profits such as: Friends of the State Street Family, The Bubbles Program, (which provides free laundry services) OM Build, Homeless Ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church and Madison Street Pulse.

Some of the Occupy Madison organizers have stated in regards to working with the system rather than against it: “Our approach to working within the system came only after we realized that without dotting every “i”, and crossing every “t”, the city and the county would never let us operate– they used every opportunity to enforce ordinances, regulations, and seemingly arbitrary whims against us. This paralleled precisely the persecution of everyday, unaffiliated, homeless individuals. When you are homeless, “the system” is rife with obstacles designed to prevent creative innovation or adaptation– we at Occupy Madison experienced the same headaches.” organizers also stated “In many ways, we have had much more success since we changed our approach. This was due not only to how we communicated with city and county offices (we never shirked from being open or transparent), but how we are perceived by Madison’s genteel liberal population (emphasis is mine — MRW). It’s stunning how a flowerbed on a windowsill can be so much better for PR than the window itself, or the house it’s attached to.”

Hmmm . . . Genteel liberal population, eh? Could this phrase describe the wealthy white establishment in Boulder, CO as well?

Of course, this housing option would be for Boulder County’s own homeless people, NOT transients who just got off the bus from Denver. For this latter group, the best option is to hand each one the $5 bus ticket on RTD back to Denver, along with a sack lunch and a bottle of water to-go.

The wild critters are more respectful than some homeless people


By Max R. Weller


Procyon lotor

Yesterday morning, as I was waiting at the north door of Boulder Shelter for the Homeless before its 6AM opening to us hardy outdoor-types, a big raccoon came around the corner from the parking lot. He was interested in a cardboard container some disrespectful bum had tossed down in the grass; Br’er Raccoon looked me over, quickly decided I was harmless, then reached inside the box with great dexterity and removed a partially eaten hot dog. Carrying this meal in his mouth, he went on his way to find a private place to dine. Br’er Racoon was less than 10′ away from me at BSH — and I’ve also had mule deer approach that closely to my campsite as they graze overnight. Boulder’s squirrels, of course, are notorious for shamelessly begging for handouts in our city parks and other public venues; I’ve seen them take the granola bars I leave on the wall at my spot in the 4900 block of N. Broadway, given to me by passersby who don’t realize that I can’t chew them effectively due to bad molars.

The past few nights, the owls have treated me to their hooting, which I find to be restful. The whole outdoors experience I share with other living creatures as I sleep under the sky is a positive one, and serves to restore my good humor after the typical day’s battles with the worst-behaved bums.

Speaking of the barely human devils, consider what I encountered yesterday after returning to my neighborhood in the noon hour: I was sitting there in front of the Mexican restaurant eating my lunch, watching one of the white male pedophiles panhandling on the corner of U.S. 36, and I happened to look to the north along the sidewalk which leads towards the Dakota Ridge neighborhood. I was wondering how many of Donna’s Drunken Crew were camped out under the pine trees (on private property belonging to the HOA, where they routinely trespass); I saw an alcoholic homeless woman named Renee — her Real Name — squatting like a dog to take a piss right there on the sidewalk, in full view of any business owners, workers, customers, or nearby residents who might have glanced in her direction, as I did. Renee gave me the finger as she took a leak.

Right across the road, on the CDOT lot, is a port-a-potty that was offloaded on Sunday. It’s very conveniently located for the use of all the pickled idjits who want to hang out in this area, but Renee was too drunk and/or too lazy to cross the road and make use of it. She’s also too disrespectful of other people, as well as herself, and that’s what I told the silly [rhymes with “witch”]. I know many homeless women, and almost none of them would pee on a sidewalk in public as Renee did, then try to excuse her misbehavior by saying, “Men can whip it out anywhere when they need to pee — because I’m a woman you’re saying I can’t.” In fact, the homeless men are almost always very discreet, and have been using this port-a-potty the past couple of days.

Anyway, I left Renee and all of Donna’s Drunken Crew with the impression that I was going to call and report this incident of Urinating in Public to law enforcement. I don’t have a cell phone, nor do I want one, but they didn’t know that. As I went out to the corner to play the role of Sober and Humble Beggar, they all decided to make themselves scarce. They headed southbound, at the slow and unsteady rate of inebriates everywhere, probably to continue partying and passing out underneath the bridge over Four Mile Creek at N. Broadway & Rosewood.


Renee, this is where you go to pee.

I’m ashamed to admit making one statement to them as a group, even though they’re all drinking themselves to death and understand they’re going to die soon due to their chronic alcoholism. I said, “Hurry up and die!” I should never let their stupidity anger me to the point where I wish for such a thing.

On the other hand, if they get eaten by Bears or Mountain Lions, that’s just Nature’s way of culling the barely human herd . . .

Donna the homeless drama queen at N. Broadway & Laramie Blvd.


By Max R. Weller

Donna is her Real Name, and after all of her efforts to gain attention I’m no longer going to call her “Doris” to protect her identity.

She’s the ringleader of the bunch of inebriates who have caused so much trouble in the 4900 block of N. Broadway over the course of the past month or so, which has required the intervention of law enforcement more than once prior to this past weekend. Two Native American women (including Donna), two white male pedophiles, and another white male who came to Boulder, CO just recently comprise this group.

On Friday, as they were camped out underneath the pine trees on nicely-landscaped property belonging to the Dakote Ridge HOA, and taking turns staggering in the median at the corner of U.S. 36 while “flying a sign” to gain more booze money, I took my brief turn as a Humble Beggar to gain a few dollars to buy life’s necessities (as I receive no taxpayer-funded benefits of any kind, nor do I patronize any of the Free Giveaway venues except Boulder Shelter for my morning shower and to maintain a small locker) such as food, clothing, camping gear, bus fare, etc. As I held up my sign — HELP SAVE LIVES / NO CASH / FOR DRUNKS — her male friends left first, and then Donna practically crawled from the pine trees down the sidewalk to the spot where I normally sit, on the wall in front of the Mexican restaurant (where business owners, workers, and neighbors greet me as I’m reading a newspaper or a book).

Then, she sort of fell into the roadside ditch there. I went over to see if she was okay, and another person was already doing the same, and Donna was lying facedown at the bottom of that ditch on a long piece of cardboard with a “disaster blanket” or two from BSH as a makeshift bed. BTW, when it rains that ditch quickly fills up with water a foot or more deep. She did NOT respond to our shouts, and since I don’t own a cell phone I asked the other person to call 9-1-1. You never know about these drunkards; they could be sleeping it off or they could be suffering alcohol poisoning which can, of course, be fatal.

Anyway, the Boulder Rural Fire Dept. and paramedics responded, along with both Boulder County deputies and City of Boulder police (this spot is right on the border between county and city). A short minute before they all arrived, after I’d continued to shout at Donna that emergency help was on the way, she’d managed to crawl up out of the ditch and stagger on down the sidewalk in an attempt to make her escape. The paramedics stopped her, spoke to her, and in the end decided against transporting her to detox. In the meantime, I spoke with the deputies and city officers and showed them the mess these drunkards were making on private property that Dakota Ridge residents are paying to maintain.

Now we come to the events of Saturday: Donna and one of her male crew members were passed out again, same place, and she decided to go topless. When she put her bra and shirt back on and staggered out to the corner to panhandle, she decided to “flash” passersby. Certainly, this constitutes Disorderly Conduct in the context of being intoxicated. I figured she was headed for jail this time. Someone who had a cell phone saw Donna topless and called law enforcement. Both a Boulder county deputy and a City of Boulder police officer responded, and after talking to her briefly the deputy put her in handcuffs and took her away . . . To detox, as we learned yesterday morning.

Yes, she was back in the neighborhood yesterday! More than one interested party, including the Homeless Philosopher, told her flat out that she was NOT going back on the corner and making us all look like drunken degenerates. She obeyed us, for a wonder.

You can thank Housing First at 1175 Lee Hill for this whole mess — that’s how she came to be in the neighborhood in the first place, in a brand new apartment, until she was evicted for inviting her street friends to stay overnight and party. She has been hanging around the area ever since then, and I’ve heard that homeless people downtown and on Baseline have threatened to do great bodily harm to her if she returns to either one of those transient hangouts.

Gee, I wonder why these other bums despise her so much . . . Oh yeah, I’ve heard she’s a sneak thief, too.


Obviously not Donna, but the behavior is the same.

I’m told that Donna came here to Boulder a few years ago from Denver.

To Whom it May Concern

By Max R. Weller

I’m done with commenting on the Daily Camera website. It’s one thing to have an obsessed individual using multiple phony screen names in order to continue making personal attacks against me (which are almost always deleted as soon as they’re reported to the DC’s website admin), but it’s entirely different and much more serious when the anonymous person makes a gratuitous reference to one of my friends and includes personally identifiable info and insults in their remarks.

Only in Boulder, CO . . .

‘When You Enable an Addict You’re Not Helping, You’re Hurting’

From HUFFPOST LIVING (Canada) comes this dose of common sense, which can certainly be applied to Feel Good programs like Housing First (which allows chronically homeless alcoholics to continue drinking in their “permanent supportive care” apartments). Copied below in its entirety:

By Candace Plattor

After working for nearly 25 years with the loved ones of people struggling with addiction, I’m still amazed by how many come to their first session with me and say “I know I’m enabling, but . . .”

Do you have an addicted loved one in your life? Are you already aware that you’re doing things you probably shouldn’t be doing, in the guise of ‘helping’ them?

And even if you’re not getting the results you’re hoping for, do you still continue to enable them anyway — often for way too long?

A logical question to ask yourself in a situation like this would be:

“Why am I doing this?”

The reality is that there are, in fact, a few answers to that question. The first reason may be that no one has ever told you what you could be doing instead. As a loved one, know that what you’re doing isn’t working; in fact, in most cases, the problems continue and just get worse over time. But if you don’t have a clue about what actually can work in these situations, you may be feeling very frustrated, helpless — and quite stuck.

What is “enabling”?

A simple definition of an enabling behaviour is one that will keep the addiction going. Here are a few examples:

  • Each month, Randy gives money to his addicted sister because he fears that she won’t be able to buy food if he doesn’t — even though he knows that she spends the money he gives her on drugs. He’s even been known to drive her to the dealer to pick up her drugs. He tells himself, “At least I know that she’s safe here with me.”
  • Julia pays her boyfriend’s rent when he’s lost all of his paycheque gambling at the casino. Sometimes that means she’s short of money herself when trying to take care of her own bills and other expenses — and she rarely receives a thank you for her efforts. But she is stuck in fantasy thinking when she tells herself, “If I just love him enough, he’ll change.”
  • At 35, Tess’s parents still allow her to live in the family home due to her longtime crack addiction and apparent inability to hold a job. They don’t set clear and appropriate boundaries about what is expected of her, so she brings sketchy people and illegal drugs into their home. Tess is often high while there, and she doesn’t contribute in any positive way, at times becoming quite abusive with her parents both verbally and physically. Her parents don’t feel they can ask her to leave — “What if we kick her out and she’s on the street?”

When this kind of enabling occurs on a regular basis, the loved ones lose their own sense of self-respect and the addict has no reason to do anything differently. The dysfunctional, addictive behaviours continue — because the most effective way to stop addiction is to stop the enabling that so often accompanies it.

Are you feeling guilty?

Often, a major reason that loved ones of addicts use enabling behaviours is that they feel guilty about the addiction in the first place. If you’re like many loved ones, you may mistakenly think that you’re somehow responsible for the addict you love.

But you did NOT cause the addiction to happen. You may be contributing to it continuing, but you didn’t cause it. Even though no one chooses to become an addict (in fact, most addicts believe they’re ‘special’ and can handle addictive substances and behaviours without becoming addicted), there always comes a time when addicts know there’s something wrong and that they’re in trouble. It is at this point that they have a choice — to either remain in active addiction or to begin some type of active recovery.

Think about it this way — if addicts didn’t have this choice, then no one would be recovering. Millions of people are in recovery from addiction because they made the choice to stop hiding from reality by using a self-sabotaging behaviour. As the loved one of an addict, you are NOT responsible for the choices the addict is making. If you feel you are contributing, then it’s your responsibility to change what you’re doing. And once you do that, you’ll feel far less guilt and a lot more self-respect.

Remember: You can’t change another person, but you can change yourself. It takes courage for you to look within and to do whatever you can to contribute to healthier ways of being the loved one of someone with an addiction.

Are you scared of conflict?

Another reason that family and friends of addicts enable them has to do with codependency and people-pleasing, which I see as one and the same. If you are codependent, then you’re putting others’ needs ahead of your own on a fairly consistent basis. You may have convinced yourself that you’re doing this because you’re a “nice person” — and please understand, I’m not suggesting you aren’t nice. But the truth is that you may have an ulterior motive for acting this way.

Let me explain…

The real reason codependent people say yes when they really mean no — squashing down their own needs in the process — is usually because they are terrified of conflict and will do whatever it takes to avoid it, even when it means they lose their own self-respect in the process. Your need to people-please will have its roots in making sure there are no fights or disagreements — and this is because you’ve never really learned how to deal with other people’s anger or frustration or disappointment, especially when those are directed at you!

When codependents consistently do this, it can become an addictive behaviour for them — and if you’re giving in to the addict you so dearly love and not setting effective boundaries, you are actually meeting your own needs, not theirs. An addict does NOT need to be allowed to get away with dangerous and disrespectful behavior. What an addict truly needs is firm, healthy boundaries with appropriate, self-respecting consequences attached to them.

And when you finally learn how to handle someone else feeling angry or disappointed with you, you will become emotionally free — which is a much healthier way to live!

Dare to be uncomfortable

In reality, addicts need their loved ones to make it as uncomfortable as possible for them to remain in their active addiction. If you have an addict in your life, this is actually the most loving thing you can do for them, because it holds them to a higher standard and encourages them to take responsibility for themselves. The more we inappropriately behave as caretakers for people who can — and should — be taking care of themselves, the less belief they’ll have in their own resiliency and capabilities. The addiction will go on and on, usually just becoming more entrenched over time because addiction is a progressive condition that needs to be halted. In other words, if you love an addict, you need to stop enabling their unhealthy life choices in order to see any meaningful change happen.

And if your addict is abusing mind-altering substances, you need to do this before he or she dies out there.

Of course, the problem is that when you, as a codependent people-pleaser, start setting boundaries and making things uncomfortable for the addict you love, you yourself will become extremely uncomfortable too. We use addictive behaviours of any kind to feel better, to remain comfortable. But as the saying goes, life begins at the end of our comfort zones and, as a loved one, you’ll need to be the change you want to see in this situation.

You’ll need to love your addict enough to say, “I care about you so much that I’m not willing to support you in your active addiction anymore. I love you so much that it’s tearing me apart to watch you continue to hurt yourself like this — so if you really need to keep doing that, you’ll have to do it somewhere else. When you’re ready to be in some sort of active recovery, I’ll be happy to support you in that.”

Not only is this a loving act toward the addict in your life, it is also the most self-respectful stance you can take, because you will no longer allow yourself to be treated abusively.

Letting our addicted loved ones know that we care enough to want a healthier relationship with them is often enough for them to understand that we’re not trying to punish them by assertively maintaining our boundaries. It’s acceptable and appropriate for us to raise the bar and require more of them — just as we’re requiring more of ourselves.

That is definitely the best way to love the addict in your life.

If you’ve been enabling an addict — and I know that many of you are aware that you have been — please strongly consider changing some of your own dysfunctional behaviors so that you’re actually helping instead. The pay-offs of making that change could be amazing!

And remember: If not now, when?


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Looks just like what we can see here in Boulder, CO in the neighborhood around 1175 Lee Hill.

When our local Housing First advocates make their claims about that hip and trendy program saving the taxpayers’ money, bear these facts in mind: They’re using dishonest means to arrive at so-called savings by ignoring both the upfront costs (about $8 million for the 31-unit apartment project) and the ongoing operating expenses for the facility (staffed on a 24/7/365 basis). And here in Boulder, Housing First clients are using emergency services as often as ever while living in their apartments, as well as going to jail once they’re evicted for misbehavior in the HF program.

It’s a travesty of compassion, based on the homeless shelter/services creed of More Homeless People = More Money.