5 Ways you are Enabling an Addict
By: Rhea Rosier
Most people don’t want to enable the addict in their life, they only want to help. Yet so many friends and loved ones of the addict end up doing more harm than good by enabling. Why? It most likely is because most friends and loved ones don’t know the difference between enabling and helping. That is why it is imperative that the friends and loved ones of an addict learn as much as they can about addiction.
So what is the difference between enabling and helping?
Helping is doing something for someone they are not capable of doing themselves. And enabling is doing for someone what they could and should be doing for themselves.
Make sense? Now that you know the difference you are probably thinking of all the ways you have been enabling the addict in your life when you thought you were helping. Don’t worry though, most people enable in some way shape or form especially before they know what enabling an addict is and the different ways they are doing it. If you are still a little unsure here are 5 ways you are an enabling an addict:
1. You are enabling an addict if: You are the bank
You are definitely enabling an addict if you are giving them money. Look at the definition of enabling an addict again. The addict in your life is probably capable of having a job, earning their own money, and paying for their own things. Having their own money is something they SHOULD be doing on their own. If you are providing money for them you are enabling an addict.
2. You are enabling an addict if: You are working harder than your addicted friend or loved one
Working harder than the addict in your life is a way of an enabling an addict coincides with being the bank too. If you are forking over money to your addicted loved one to the point where you have to put in extra hours at work or if they couldn’t pay the electric bill so you have to foot it, then you are definitely enabling an addict. No matter what an addict tells you they still SHOULD AND COULD be paying for everything on their own and SHOULD AND COULD be putting in the extra work themselves. Not you.
3. You are enabling an addict if: By allowing your addicted love on to live with you
This one may surprise you, but part of the way you stop enabling is by setting boundaries. And boundaries have less to do with the addicted loved one and more to do with what you are willing to allow in your life and put up with. So if you don’t want drug use and drinking going on in your home, but are continuing to allow your addicted loved one or friend stay with you, you are enabling an addict. Your addicted loved one SHOULD AND COULD respect the boundaries or rules you have put in place. If they don’t want to respect those things they shouldn’t get to just stick around. This is a definite way you are enabling an addict.
4. You are enabling an addict if: You save them from consequences
If the addict in your life ends up getting a few drug charges or a DWI, bailing them out of jail is enabling them. If you call into their work and tell their work they are sick when you know they are hung over or high you are enabling an addict. The addict in your life SHOULD AND CAN deal with consequences, they aren’t going to die from going to jail or needing to call work. Doing this for them is enabling an addict.
5. You are an enabling an addict if: By just ignoring the problem
Sometimes it may feel like a better option is just to ignore the problem, but this is inadvertently enabling an addict to just continue on doing what they are doing. Ignoring the problem is giving the addict a kind of an “ok” or a “we aren’t going to say anything to you or punish you or do anything about this drug addiction; continue doing what you are doing.” The addict in your life, if they want to continue on the way they are can and should face the fact that you know and are not ok with it. Set that boundary, be honest, and helpful. If their reaction is bad it is because of nothing you did and is not your fault. It is due to their disease of addiction. Whatever you do, don’t just ignore the drug use and drinking though because this is enabling an addict. Many times confronting your addicted love on could be the changing factor in whether or not they decide to finally ask for help and stop. So please, don’t ignore what is going on.
If you are enabling an addict don’t be hard on yourself. You are only trying to help. The biggest thing you can do if you have been enabling an addict is to stop and just be ready to help when they are will to do something to change their actions. Not enabling doesn’t mean you don’t help your addicted loved one, or support them it just means you don’t do the things for them that keep them stuck in the cycle of addiction. If your addicted loved one wants to go to rehab, by all means help them!! That is something they are going to need help with and won’t be able to do alone, and is also a means to a healthy future.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction please call toll-free 1-888-672-4435