What Does it Mean to Enable Addiction?
It can be tough to watch a loved one struggle with addiction, whether that’s an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or other substances. But what makes it even harder is enabling our loved ones with an addiction. Enabling is doing things for someone they could and should do for themselves, and enabling a loved one’s addiction can do more bad than good.
In fact, enabling a loved one’s addiction can create an atmosphere where the individual struggling with addiction can feel comfortable continuing their substance abuse. Enabling someone’s poor behavior or choice supports and maintains that harmful pattern of addiction. The struggle with enabling a loved one’s addiction is that most people don’t even realize they’re doing it.
5 Signs of Enabling
The first step in overcoming enabling behaviors is to recognize them. While enabling a loved one’s addiction may look different for everyone, these are five common signs of enabling:
No. 1: Avoiding the problem
People often avoid something when it is hard to understand or comprehend. For example, instead of confronting a loved one with addiction about their harmful behavior, you might avoid dealing with it. While avoidance can feel good at the moment, it’s a short-term, temporary solution that can worsen the overall problem in the long run.
No. 2: Denying there’s a problem
It’s painful to admit that a loved one may struggle with addiction. Often, family members and loved ones can be in denial that there is a problem at all. It can feel easier to deny your loved one’s substance abuse, but it can also worsen the situation.
No. 3: Ignoring problematic behavior
Similar to avoiding and denying the problem, some may try to ignore the problematic behavior of their loved ones. For instance, if you find evidence that your loved one has been using drugs in your home, you may ignore the signs and avoid confronting them.
No. 4: Making excuses
Another sign of enabling a loved one’s addiction is making excuses for them. For example, if they’re too hungover to go to work, you may call their employer to tell them your loved one is sick.
No. 5: Providing financial assistance
It costs money to maintain an addiction. You could be enabling the bad behavior if you provide financial assistance such as paying bills or cash.
Learn how parents can prevent drug abuse:
How to Help an Addict Without Enabling Them
Signs of enabling are sometimes obscure. Often, they’re more subtle and harder to recognize. As they say, knowing is half the battle.
Studies show that one of the main reasons people enable loved ones with addiction is the fear of letting go. However, there are ways to detach from substance users and still love them. These are ways you can help an addict without enabling them:
- Learn about addiction and understand what your loved one is up against in their addiction and road to recovery
- Attend and participate in family therapy sessions
- Set boundaries and learn practical communication skills
- Engage in self-care for yourself
How WhiteSands Can Help
Research shows that addiction is best treated at a professional addiction rehab treatment center, such as WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab. Here, patients receive individualized addiction treatment in a safe and supportive environment. At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, addiction professionals, such as therapists, counselors, and medical professionals, are available on-site. Learn how to live without drugs or alcohol with help from WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab.
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.