How to Stop Enabling an Addict

Curious how to stop enabling an addict?

If you have someone in your family who is an addict, then you know first-hand how addiction impacts the family unit. A strong family will always try to support and protect a loved one regardless of what they have done or are doing. Standing by one another and offering help, seems only natural behavior when someone you love is involved. But sometimes your behavior can actually hinder the person you love and are trying to protect, even though you think you are helping them. If this sounds like your situation, then you will have to learn how to stop enabling an addict and start helping them.

It’s not difficult to learn how to stop being an enabler to a drug addict. All you have to do is study the information and identify the ways that you are enabling, and stop doing it. If you remain weak and give in to the demands of their addiction, you are allowing the addict to remain weak and showing them this behavior is acceptable. But if you remain strong, then the addict will have no choice but to deal with the situation. This type of tough love makes the addict become accountable for their behavior, and allows you to stop enabling them in their addiction.

The enabling addiction definition according to Psychology Dictionary is:

  1. A way of encouraging a person to meet their own desires and needs
  2. A process where a person unwittingly aids another person’s negative behavior

For example: If your child has to study for a big exam tomorrow and they normally help you clean up the kitchen after dinner, but you allow them to be excused from kitchen duty to be able to study, you are enabling your child in a positive sense because they are working toward a positive goal. On the other hand, if your spouse continuously returns home drunk after having drinks with friends after work, and you dismiss this negative behavior, you are enabling alcohol abuse.

When your loved one is partaking in dysfunctional behavior that is detrimental to themselves (and the family, too) and you dismiss it or make excuses for them, you are enabling the continuation of this destructive behavior. People who allow their loved ones to continue their dysfunctional behavior are co-dependents who are enabling the behavior because this makes them feel in control of an unmanageable situation. The enabler’s self-esteem is often based on their willingness to aid and abet inappropriate behavior. An addict, on the other hand, is the narcissist in the relationship with only their wants, needs, and desires in mind. They have no interest in what others want or desire, only what is important to them and their addiction. So the addict makes the demands and the enabler meets the demands. This type of behavior only encourages the addict to continue on his destructive path of addiction.

To learn how to stop being an enabler to a drug addict, you have to ask yourself some important questions about your own behavior:

  1. Do you put the needs and desires of the addict before your own needs and desires?
  2. Do you find it difficult to express your emotions or assert yourself?
  3. Do you lie about the things the addict says or does to cover-up the truth?
  4. Do you place blame for the addict’s behavior on other people or situations rather than on the addict?
  5. Do you ignore unacceptable behavior and allow it to continue?
  6. Do you become upset or resentful of the extra responsibilities you are forced to carry?
  7. Are you afraid that if you spoke your true feelings, the addict would leave you, cause a blow-up, or become violent?
  8. Do you continue to offer help even though your help is never acknowledged or appreciated?

If you can identify with these types of behaviors, then you may be an enabler and may need to advise with a counselor, to learn how to properly deal with a drug addict without enabling them. Learn how to Stop Enabling an Addict. Enabling not only hurts your loved one, it also hurts you. Your loved one can begin a drug addiction recovery treatment program to get off of drugs and learn how to remain sober. If you are having difficulty changing your enabling behavior, you should get help to understand why you are an enabler and learn how to stop being an enabler to a drug addict.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.