5 Ways People Enable Their Addicted Loved Ones

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According to the University of Pennsylvania Health System, “Enabling behaviors are those behaviors that support our addicted loved one’s chemical use.” Even when family and friends sometimes attempt to help their loved ones work through their addictions or believe they are being helpful, they can often fall into these harmful behavior patterns that encourage a person’s drug abuse.

Below are 5 of the most common ways people enable the addicts in their lives.

1. Denial

Denial is extremely common among addicts themselves and, unfortunately, many individuals who have addicts in their lives can fall into this pattern as well. A person can deny their loved one’s addiction in many ways, from telling themselves that the addict’s problem is actually their fault to refusing to accept the seriousness of the situation. Denial often keeps both people in this harmful situation from creating a change, and this is why the first step of recovery is admitting to the problem.

2. Laying Blame

A person could also enable their loved by laying blame on them or criticizing them constantly. Often, this pushes the addict away, and they do not seek the help they need because the other individual makes their addiction seem to be their fault entirely. Most people don’t respond well to this kind of treatment, and it can cause someone to be even less likely to realize their need for help.

3. Infantilizing the Addict

When a person treats their loved one like a child because they are struggling with addiction, this can be very damaging for both individuals. Many people do this so they can feel superior to the addict, but this is a harmful behavior because they are getting their self-esteem from someone else’s pain. The addict, in turn, will often refuse to seek help because they are being treated like a child, making them believe they do not need to face the reality of their situation.

4. Joining In

If you know your loved one has a problem with substance abuse, it is not safe or acceptable to join them in this abuse. Some individuals believe that they can help control the amount their loved one will use if they join in or that they can protect the individual from dangerous consequences. However, all this does is reinforce the negative behavior.

5. Giving Them “One More Chance…”

If you have said these words or thought them about your loved one’s substance abuse, ask yourself how many times that last chance has been given––and taken advantage of. It can feel strong to put forth an ultimatum or to promise yourself that you are finished after a certain event occurs, but it is really just a way of putting off the inevitable task of seeking treatment for your friend or family member.

It is important to not only examine your loved one’s damaging behavior when it comes to their drug abuse but also to examine your own. This way, both you and your friend, significant other, or family member can learn better-coping skills for the future.