Enabling Addiction: You Don’t Even Know You’re Doing It

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enabling addictionEnabling addiction vs. actually helping. It is a thin line many people walk if they have an addict in their lives. It can be really hard to differentiate between enabling and helping. It also can be hard to tell when helping turns into enabling. And while enabling may sound like a family therapy term, it is a detrimental and fundamental idea that must be talked about. Why? Because in some instances, enabling is deadly. Enabling addiction, regardless of whether or not you are aware you are doing it, can lead you straight to a funeral or jail visit.

Enabling addiction is not helping the individual. It is enabling the addiction, it is feeding the drug use. And that is NOT helping the addict or alcoholic. 

It is hard to say no. It is hard to look at your son, daughter, wife, husband, and say “no more.” It is hard to give up the comfort of knowing they are safe and ok by no longer offering money, your home, car, or even your legal help. But let me say this, would you rather live with discomfort knowing that you are doing the right thing to help save them or would you rather live in the comfort of helping their addiction get worse?

Addicts and alcoholics are manipulators while they are using. They will do whatever they can and use whoever they can to get what they need. It is the nature of their disease, not the nature of who they are. Regardless, they are always going to try and use you to continue getting high if they need to. And when you say “ok,” you are enabling. 

Here is the fundamental difference between enabling addiction and actually helping: If the addict SHOULD or COULD take care of it on their own but you take care of it, that is enabling addiction.

For instance, if the addict lands themselves in jail. The addict should and can take care of that and handle it on their own. If you come to the rescue and bail them out of jail you are enabling not helping. If the addict should and can pay for their bills, have a job, and be living on their own but you give them a place to stay, pay their bills, or offer money because they don’t have a job, you are enabling not helping.

Enabling looks like you going against what is okay for you in your own mind, body, and spirit in order to accommodate the addict in your life. It looks like you allowing the addict in your life to live in your home and get high there, never kicking them out. It looks like you calling their job for them to explain how they are sick when really they are hungover or going through withdrawal. 

Enabling addiction is a way for you to stay comfortable in the situation. And we get it. You are comfortable thinking you know they are safe, or covering up for them so you are comfortable thinking that it isn’t as bad as it really is. This is so dangerous.

The addiction is not your fault. You are powerless and no matter what you do to try and save the addict in your life, they have to save themselves. The best thing you can do is stop enabling them to continue using, and begin searching for ways to get them into a treatment program. Continually cleaning up the mess and covering the tracks is just going to perpetuate the problem and send a message that you are ok with all of this. Are you ok with all of it? 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction we can help. We focus not only on helping the addict but also the families. We get how hard it is to be the parent or child of an addict or alcoholic that is using. It isn’t easy. And we don’t blame you for enabling. It is natural to want to save our loved ones. We don’t ever want to see them hurt.

But it is time to do something different. It is time to stop making the addiction ok and get help. Because if not now, then when? If you need help for addiction we provide inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, intervention services and so much more. Call us now to get a free assessment and lets talk about your situation. We are here to help.