Last updated: 05/6/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
When you love someone who’s addicted, you already know the devastation drug and alcohol abuse can cause. And you already know the disease impacts way more than just the addict. It impacts everyone the addict interacts with, including you.
Yet, what many people close to addicts don’t realize is the role that their actions play in keeping the addict addicted. It’s so easy for family and friends to think they’re helping an addicted loved one, when in reality, they’re actually enabling addiction.
What Is Enabling?
There’s a fine line between helping and enabling, so be sure to know which side of it you want to be on. To be sure, remember helping is assisting the addicted individual with doing something they are literally unable to do on their own, enabling is doing something for them they could be doing themselves.
10 Ways Families Enable
1. Covering for the addict
When you cover for addicts, you’re not keeping them safe, you’re allowing them to keep using without having to receive consequences for their actions.
2. Keeping secrets
Keeping secrets for people who are addicted makes it so they don’t have to be accountable and can easily lie and manipulate others.
3. Giving money
If you give an addict money, you can almost guarantee they’re going to use if for drugs or alcohol. Instead of handing them cash, give them what they need.
4. Rationalizing behavior
If you find yourself making excuses to others about how an addict behaves, there’s a good chance you’re enabling them.
5. Ignoring negative behaviors
Addicts do things all the time they normally wouldn’t. They lie. They cheat. They steal. If you’re ignoring these things, it’s time to stop.
6. Acting out of fear
Loving an addict is scary. They get mean. They may lash out. Heck, they may die. Yet, no one should live in fear and doing so does more harm than good.
7. Lying for the addict
If you find yourself lying to your partner, parents, or other loved ones for someone who’s addicted, you’re only making it easier for that person to keep on using. Be upfront and stop the chaos now.
8. Blame shifting to others
If every time you talk about addiction, you’re talking about other people instead of the addict, you’re probably blame shifting their disease on to others.
9. Doing whatever it takes to keep the peace
As parents and loved ones, it’s easy to do whatever needs to be done to keep the peace in a household, yet when you live with an addict, it allows them to not be accountable.
10. Putting the addict’s needs in front of everyone else’s
Addicts needs are no more important than anyone else’s in the family, nor are they important than your own. Don’t make them a priority.
End the Enabling
If you want to help an addict get better, the enabling must end. To make that a possibility, allow the addict to clean up his or her own mess. Everyone must learn to live with the consequences of their decisions and you can’t come to the rescue each and every time.
If necessary, love them from a distance. For many, watching a loved one in the throes of addiction is next to impossible. If you’re loved one isn’t seeking help, it’s okay to love them from a distance.