Man sitting the edge of his messy bed, feeling unmotivated.

How You Might be Enabling a Drug Addict

What is Enabling?

There is a difference between enabling an addict and helping them. Enabling occurs when a person shields an addict from consequences and responsibilities that force addicts to change their habits. In contrast, helping an addict is assisting them with tasks that they would not have been able to do themselves if they were sober. By shielding an addict from the consequences of their actions, you are enabling, not helping them.

Here are some examples of enabling behavior:

• Refusing to talk about the addict’s behavior with other family members or their friends to keep the peace.
• Downplaying the seriousness of behavioral issues.
• Giving the individual money or providing them with a place to live.
• Covering up bad behavior.
• Blaming others or external situations that are beyond one’s control for the addict’s behavior.
• Tolerating physical, mental, or emotional abuse.

Why Do People Enable Addicts?

More often than not, a person enables an addict because they love them and are willing to go to any length to improve the situation. Unfortunately, love is not a cure for addiction. True recovery happens when a person struggling with addiction should take accountability for their actions if they want to make a positive change in their life. At Life-Rock our addiction recovery programs were crafted purposefully so that responsibility and accountability are values we work to engrain in all our residents.

Many people enable their loved ones out of fear. They are worried that something bad will happen if they don’t care for the person.

How to Stop Enabling an Addict?

Enabling does more harm than good. By enabling an addict, you send the wrong message that their behavior is acceptable. When they realize that there are no consequences to their actions, they may lose motivation to mend their ways and can start manipulating you emotionally to have their own way.

Here are some tips to stop enabling a loved one:

• Stop Making Excuses for Them: By making excuses for your loved one, you are unknowingly enabling bad behavior. Remember, if the person does not experience the consequences of their actions, they will have no motivation to change.

• Do Not Take Responsibility for Tasks Assigned to Them: When you perform the tasks that your loved one was supposed to carry out, you relieve them of any sense of duty. With no sense of responsibility, the person may continue to use the substance they are addicted to.

• Do Not Give Them Money: If you regularly give your loved one money, you may be funding their addiction. When you lend money to someone struggling with addiction, you make it easy for them to continue doing drugs. The person may try to manipulate you emotionally. Stay strong and gently refuse their requests.

• Do Not Rescue Them From Legal Trouble: Helping your loved one when they land in legal soup due to their actions can feed their bad habits, sending a clear message that their behavior is acceptable.

Life-Rock is committed to helping recovering addicts make a positive change in their life. Our addiction recovery program in Napa County focuses on imparting life skills that people grappling with addiction can use to beat cravings and improve their life. Have questions about our program? Call (707) 575-9100 (men’s helpline) or (707) 575-9599 (women’s helpline).