Seven Signs that You’re Enabling an Addict

Seven Signs that You're Enabling an Addict

Financially enabling an addict will only allow him or her to continue buying drugs

While addicts are primarily responsible for their addictions, other factors such as trauma, mental illness, family conflict and illness may all contribute to the development and duration of substance abuse and addiction.

The enabling behavior of family and friends can also be a contributing factor to a loved ones addiction. Although helping an addict might be the family’s goal, their behavior may be doing the complete opposite. Once loved ones are able to identify the signs of an enabler, they can learn how to prevent enabling and start truly helping.

How Do I Know if I’m Helping or Enabling?

The following seven signs of enabling behavior can help you identify if your actions may be enabling a loved one’s addiction, rather than helping him to recover.

1)      Being a source of money – Financially enabling an addict will only allow him or her to continue buying drugs. One way to help without taking away all support to the addict is to ensure that his main necessities are covered, without always resorting to handing out money.

2)      Being in denial – Minimizing the problem and trying to believe that it is nothing serious can undermine recovery. Considering the dangers of untreated addiction can be a way to stop enabling in this way.

3)      Avoiding the problem to keep the peace – Maintaining good relations with a loved one is important, but understanding that conflict might be unavoidable to help the addict is one of the first steps in the healing process.

4)      Allowing the addict to cross your boundaries – Setting conditions for the addict but never following through with them communicates to the addict that you are not serious. To effectively stop enabling, decisive action must be taken.

5)      Always solving problems – Taking care of every problem helps an addict to continue in his addiction without facing the natural consequences of his actions.

6)      Lying on behalf of the addict – Lying to school, employers, partners, friends, or even to police officers allows an addict to live without facing the true consequences of addiction.

7)      Doing nothing believing that “it will pass” – This behavior is based on a false hope that the addict will overcome the addiction by himself. External help is usually necessary for effective healing.

Truly helping an addict involves allowing him to see and feel the truth about his behavior and addiction. For example, instead of trying to avoid the problem for fear of confrontation, a helping behavior encourages honest and open communication about the effects of the addiction. Instead of giving an addict money every time he’s short, true help allows him to face the fact that his lifestyle is not financially sustainable. This can also be done with the help of an intervention designed to stop enabling and move the addict to accept treatment.

Shifting from Enabling Behaviors to Helping Behaviors

To learn more about how to truly help an addicted loved one, call our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer all your questions and connect you with the resources you need to overcome addiction. Learn about rehab centers, intervention services, medically supervised detox programs, insurance coverage, transport to and from rehab, and much more. Recovery from addiction is possible; call today.