stop enabling addict

Are you Enabling the Addict in Your Life?

SoCal Detox
SoCal Detox

SoCal Detox editorial contributors include writers, editors, mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals who are trained to create credible and authoritative health information that is accurate, informative, and easy to understand.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Consequences are part of life. They permeate all of the intricacies of existence. Understanding that our choices and actions produce results is part of growing up and becoming a functioning human.

Making Life Uncomfortable

There is a love that feels counterintuitive but is necessary in the life of a person caught in the web of addiction. It is a love that helps someone begin to understand and feel the destruction of their actions. It’s a tougher love. It’s the hard work of standing firm—a refusal to allow a loved one to continue the path they are on, which will only end in pain and tragedy. Love without enabling.

In order to actively love the addict in your life in a way that does not enable, your behaviors must cease to make their lives easier and begin to allow their lives to reflect the decisions they are making. Essentially enablers keep their loved ones from experiencing the consequences of their actions. While this feels like love and/or caring, in the big picture it is harm wearing the mask of care. The first step for those of us who are in the circumference of an addict is to change our mindset.

5 Things to Stop Doing

Stop the Guilt

If you feel guilty for allowing your loved one to live with the consequences of their destructive actions, a change of perspective is necessary. Remember, the more you allow an addict to continue their path, the more dangerous the situation becomes. Eventually they will end up in jail, in the hospital, or worse. Without recovery, that is where the path of substance abuse leads. Your goal must be to make this life they are choosing uncomfortable. And don’t let the guilt into your heart. Your actions, and even inaction, is a deeper love that makes sense on the truest levels.

Stop Making Excuses

Addiction is a disease. But that does not mean that you should give permission for a loved one to continue using without consequences. It is tempting to excuse the behavior citing life situations such as job stress or trauma, but at some point boundaries must be placed. If your loved one is using you can understand why, but remind them they are not powerless. There is still one choice they can make: the one for recovery.

Stop Protecting

Much of what goes along with addiction (especially drug addiction) is illegal. Part of loving someone without enabling might come from allowing the authorities to do their job. Purchasing illegal drugs, stealing to finance a fix, committing violence while under the influence, amongst other things are all common on the addict’s path. As well, driving while drunk or stoned is not only illegal, it is life threatening. If your loved one is engaged in illegal activities, do not protect them from the police or any other authority figure. These consequences are often exactly what an addict needs to wake up to the ruin they are living in and causing around them.

Stop Throwing Money at It

Addictions are expensive. Offering temporary loans, picking up the rent check for a couple of months, buying expensive gifts (which are then sold by the addict), these are all common ways well-meaning friends or family members bankroll substance abuse and add to the problem. If your loved one has access to the family bank account, you may want to make a separation in finances. At the very minimum a verbal commitment that the money has dried up (and sticking to it) is a necessary step in loving an addict without enabling.

Stop Smoothing Things Out

The vomit spread across their bed stinks. So don’t clean it. Flare-ups at the family function are horrible, but let your loved one deal with the fallout. Missing work is going to end up in a lost job; missing school is going to mean failing; getting arrested is going to bring everything in your loved one’s life to a breaking point. But that might be just what they need. Remember, refusing to enable is a tough road. It’s easier to simply make excuses and try to protect our loved ones. However, a more profound protection might just come from allowing an addict to reap what they sow.

What can you do?

Always emphasize treatment. Remembering that addiction is a disease, you can still stand firm on the fact that addiction is a treatable disease. It must be managed, but that does not come easily. Your loved one needs help. It’s time for them to understand that.

Not sure if your loved one needs help? Here is some valuable information on how to know when it’s time to get help for your friend or family member.

Need Help?
Please call us today for more information on how SoCal Detox can help your loved one find the treatment they need: 888-590-0777.

Do I Need Help?
Do I Need Help?

Take Our Confidential Self Assessment Now.

Take the Assessment

Talk With An Expert

24/7 Confidential Free Helpline Is Available.

Are You Covered for Addiction Treatment?

Check your insurance benefits for coverage of addiction treatment services.