Supporting vs. Enabling: How to Best Help an Addict

How to Help an Addicted Loved One Without Enabling

When someone you care about is suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, or another form of a substance use disorder, you often need to walk a fine line, one that allows you to provide support without enabling their destructive behavior. The line between loving support and dangerous enabling is not always a clear one, and relying on your intuition alone could get you, and your addicted loved one into a lot of trouble.

So how do you support your loved one without enabling their behavior? How do you encourage the person you care about to seek help with their addiction without driving them away or forcing them into an even greater self-imposed isolation? And most importantly, how do you distinguish supporting vs. enabling? Here are some key things you need to know about walking the fine line on how to help an addict.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.

What Is Enabling?

If you want to avoid enabling behavior, you first need to know what enabling means, especially in the context of alcoholism, drug addiction, and other forms of substance abuse. Enabling behavior can take a number of forms, including:

  • Giving the addict a no-strings-attached place to stay: As long as an addicted friend or family member knows they will have a soft place to land, they will be unlikely to change their behavior.
  • Providing cash to an addict or alcoholic: They may say they need the cash to buy food or pay rent, but if you give money to an addict, the funds will almost certainly be spent on alcohol or drugs.
  • Not holding them accountable: If you genuinely want your friend or family member to get help, you must first hold them responsible for their behavior. This accountability can take many forms, from pressing charges when they steal from you to refusing to pay off the debts they have accumulated through their poor life choices.

Steps to Help an Addict Without Enabling

If you want to learn how to help an addict help without enabling their behavior, you need to walk a fine line, but you do not have to navigate that path alone. Here are three critical steps to follow if you genuinely want to know how to help an addict get better:

  1. Focus on the positive: It is easy to get caught up in the negative parts of life when dealing with an addicted friend or family member, but no matter how dark the world looks, there is still light if you are willing to see it. Focusing on the positive aspects of life with your loved one can help you see their way to a better life.
  2. Be there with offers of help: Providing tangible assistance to an addicted friend or family member could be critical to their recovery, but the type of support you offer matters. Giving cash to an addict or alcoholic is counterproductive because the funds will end up with their dealer or the local liquor store, but providing support in phone numbers, contact information, and other tangible data is different. If you truly want to help someone you care about, keep the WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab phone number handy.
  3. Be ready to help your loved ones if they fail: Failure is a part of life and recovery. It is not unusual for someone suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, or substance use disorder to fail at rehab several times before they finally succeed, and you can do a lot to encourage them to keep going. You want to be a cheerleader for your loved one, but you should also be ready to provide additional support should they fall.

If you are ready to take these vital steps on how to help an addict, the staff at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab is here to help. Just give us a call or visit any of our Florida locations and help the person you care about take that critical first step toward a better life.

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

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.