How to Not Enable an Addict

Addiction Science: How to Not Enable an Addict

The effects of addiction are not always just experienced by the addict but also by the people in their life. A loved one becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol can be an overwhelming situation to deal with. You want to do everything you can to help but also can’t take any more of the negative emotions associated with having someone close to you become addicted. When a person begins to find out more about addiction, the term “enabler” quickly comes up. How to not enable an addict is an aspect of treatment that can help to make the changes needed to be a supportive person in their life instead of someone who enables the bad behavior.

What is an Enabler?

When a person becomes dependent on a substance, they are not themselves. The drug-seeking behavior brought on by cravings and other elements can change a person’s priorities making the things they once held dear become just an obstacle. It can be difficult to come to terms with this situation but only through understand what an addiction is can you begin to see the difference between support vs enabling.

An enabler means well with their intentions but the end result of their efforts becomes further abuse, often facilitating the abuse. Enabling can be giving the addict money, paying their bills, taking care of their responsibilities, covering for them or anything that allows the self-destructive behavior of the addict to continue. How to not enable an addict becomes about letting the natural consequences of their substance abuse happen.

What Happens When You Stop Enabling an Addict?

What happens when you stop enabling an addict may not be easy, but it has to occur in order to properly support their recovery. When you stop being the enabler there will likely be a backlash to deal with. You may be worried about what is going to happen now that you’ve stopped enabling.

How to not enable an addict is not about a one-time event but rather a constant effort to achieve. Once you’ve stopped what you were doing before, it can be time to think about the next step: confronting them about their addiction. The idea is that you express the reason why you no longer want to help them with their self-destructive behavior in the way you have in the past and that you are willing to help them find the professional help they need – the difference between support vs enabling.

A common response for addicts when an enabler stops playing the role is to get angry. What do you do when this happens? For starters, it’s important to remember that if the person was not addicted to the substance, there wouldn’t be the anger they are expressing. Addiction is a relapsing disease and while a person is affected by it, their behaviors are too.

How to not enable an addict when they call and ask for your help is not to ignore them entirely, but rather than giving them the money they asked for, you offer to help them get into a rehab program. The feelings of you wanting to help them should be focused on getting professional help and not on the enabling behaviors of the past.

Addiction treatment programs can help your loved one end the cycle of addiction and get back to a healthy state of mind and being. If you need help in dealing with an addict, contact WhiteSands today (877) 855-3470 on to see how they can help you.


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.