Seven Signs that You’re Enabling an Addict

Seven Signs that You’re Enabling an Addict

Loving an addict is hard. You want to help your loved one get on his feet, but you do not want to be a crutch. The concern is valid. Many people in relationships with substance abusers unknowingly cross the line between helping and hurting. The best way to get clarity is to learn about enabling, a dysfunctional way of caring that often results from addiction.

Enabling is the act of offering help that perpetuates a problem by encouraging negative behavior. It removes the natural consequences of his behavior, thereby robbing him of incentive to change. Common ways people enable addicts include the following:

  • Trying to find him or her a job
  • Paying their rent
  • Taking over their responsibilities, such as childcare
  • Making excuses for or dismissing irresponsible behavior
  • Overlooking violations
  • Posting bail

People who consistently enable dysfunctional behavior or “save the day” are often called codependent. Two common characteristics of codependence include the following:

  • The enabler’s self-esteem depends on his or her willingness and ability to help, often in inappropriate ways
  • Helping allows the enabler to feel in control of a situation that is unmanageable

Most individuals who are enablers do not recognize their tendency. One way to spot enabling and codependence is through self-examination. Seven questions to ask yourself include the following:

  • Do you often ignore unacceptable behavior?
  • Do you consistently ignore your own needs and desires in order to help someone else?
  • Do you find yourself resenting responsibilities you take on?
  • Do you have trouble expressing your own emotions?
  • Do you ever fear that not doing something will cause a blowup, make the person leave you, or even result in violence?
  • Do you lie to cover for your addicted loved one’s mistakes?
  • Do you continue to offer help when it is never appreciated or acknowledged?

If you suspect that you have enabling tendencies, the best thing to do is to take action. If your addicted loved one is in treatment, be sure to take an active part in the process, perhaps by attending counseling sessions offered for friends and family members. If your loved one is not in treatment, consider seeking counseling or joining a 12-Step support group. Sometimes the best way to help your loved one is to first help yourself.

Getting Help For Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll free, 24-hour helpline to guide you to wellness. Please call today.