Enabling does not help addicts
Dealing with an addict is never easy. But take a close look at the life of any person struggling with addiction, and you will likely find at least one family member or friend “helping” that person. Somebody making it easier for the addict to continue in the progression of their disease. This behavior is called enabling. The problem is that this form of helping is actually hurting. And instead of support drug addict, family members end up making the problem worse.
Enabling vs. helping
So how do you know the difference between helping and enabling? Helping is doing something for another person when they are not capable of doing it for themselves. Enabling, on the other hand, is doing things that the person could and should be doing for him or herself. Enabling behavior makes it easier for an addict to continue drinking or using drugs because the consequences aren’t bad enough to convince him or her to stop. As a result, the addict is neither ready or willing to apply self help for drug addiction.
Top 10 enabling behaviors
Following are the top ten actions that fall under the category of enabling.
1. Taking on the addict’s responsibilities for them. For example, paying their overdue bills, cleaning their house, filling their car with gas, or buying them groceries.
2. Telling lies for the addict, such as ‘calling in sick’ for them when they are actually too hung over to work.
3. Making excuses for the addict’s behavior. Perhaps they act out in public, and you make the excuse that the addict has been working a lot of hours, so their behavior is due to stress.
4. Bailing the addict out of jail or financial difficulty.
5. Finishing a project that the addict failed to complete on his or her own.
6. Cleaning up after the addict. Perhaps they throw a tantrum, throwing things around and breaking them, and you clean it up.
7. Threatening to leave or kick the addict out of your home if he or she uses again, but failing to follow through on your threats.
8. Accepting part of the blame for an addict’s bad behavior.
9. Drinking or using drugs with an addict in an attempt to strengthen the relationship.
10. Avoiding issues that need to be addressed out of fear that the addict will become angry.
What can enablers do to help?
If you see yourself in any of the above examples, you may be enabling an alcoholic or addict. Knowledge is the first step toward positive change. Now that you are aware of these behaviors, you can start to steer yourself away from them, and avoid enabling a loved one’s addiction.
Enabling behavior questions
Do you still have questions about enabling behaviors? Maybe you’d like to open up and share about your own enabling, or a family member’s addiction. Please leave your comments and questions here. We try our best to answer all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt reply. And if we don’t know the answer, we will refer you to someone who does.