Are You an Enabling a Loved Ones Addiction?

Addiction not only affects the one struggling with drugs or alcohol but the disease also takes a toll on family and friends. It’s natural to want to help your loved one. But are you really helping them or enabling their addiction?

What is Enabling?

Enabling is when a person contributes to the self-destructive or compulsive behavior of another person.1 For example, helping a person with a substance use disorder may involve you setting clear boundaries like, not being around them if they have been using drugs or alcohol. Enabling may consist of you making excuses for your loved one’s behavior, giving them money, or not addressing their alcohol or drug use.

Signs You Are Enabling Addiction

Some of the signs that you are enabling your loved one’s addiction include:2

  • Accepting blame for their alcohol/drug use or being convinced “it is your fault.”
  • Financially supporting someone in active addiction.
  • Taking on their responsibilities or covering up for them.
  • Justifying their alcohol or drug use despite the harmful consequences.
  • Avoiding problems, such as not mentioning their alcohol or drug use to “keep the peace.”
  • Justifying their substance use or making excuses for them.

Ways to Break the Enabling Cycle

If you are worried that you are enabling someone with addiction, you are not alone. Here are some ways to break the cycle:

  1. Get educated about what addiction is, and take care of yourself by going to a support group. Al-Anon is a mutual-help group for family members and loved ones of people with an alcohol use disorder. Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA), a fellowship for people in recovery from codependency Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families (ACA), is a 12-step program for people who grew up in families with addiction or other issues.
  2. Prepare for your loved one’s response and hold firm. When you take action to stop enabling your loved one’s addiction, they won’t be happy about it. Typical reactions include becoming emotionally punitive, such as disappearing for a few days and not answering any messages. It can be very difficult for family members to hold firm through the backlash.
  3. Help them to find treatment.  Research shows a direct connection between the length of stay in residential treatment and successful treatment outcomes.  Staying in treatment for an adequate period of time (which for most people is 90 days or more) is necessary to successfully quit (or decrease their use of) drugs or alcohol.3

It’s important to remember that enabling behaviors are not helping your loved one. If you are looking for alcohol or drug rehab in Mississippi, Oxford Treatment Center can help kickstart a path to recovery.



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