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how to avoid enabling an addict

How to Avoid Enabling an Addict


As a human being, it is natural to want to protect and help those we love, but the lines between helping and enabling become increasingly blurred when a loved one develops an addiction. It is important to distinguish which actions are being taken that are allowing the addiction to continue without consequences and to eradicate them.

If an addict notices their loved ones enabling their addiction, it is likely they will continue to push their boundaries and take advantage of their loved ones to continue their addiction. As a parent or loved one, it can be difficult to know what actions to avoid to not enable an addict. To help prevent you from enabling a loved one’s addiction, we have put together an overview of what enabling is, as well as steps to take to avoid enabling an addict.

What is Enabling?

In order to avoid enabling an addict, it is first necessary to understand exactly what enabling is and how you may be enabling an addict without realizing it. In a family or relationship, it is common to help other family members and loved ones when they need it, but enabling goes further than just offering help from time to time. When a loved one or family member assumes responsibility for activities that an individual with an addiction should be able to handle on their own, this is considered enabling the behavior.

For example, if two spouses commonly take turns dropping their children off at school each morning, a situation may arise where one spouse will cover for the other, such as if they need to head into work early for a meeting. This is not enabling, but being supportive.

However, this can become enabling if one spouse takes over all duties taking the children to school because the other spouse is not home, or in the right condition, to take the children to school. By assuming all responsibility for taking the children to school instead of confronting their spouse, they are enabling the addictive behavior and making it easier for that individual to maintain their addiction.

Without consequences, the addict will not recognize the affect their addiction is having on others or themselves and will not feel the discomfort consequences often carry. By enabling the addicted individual’s behavior, a loved one may inadvertently be allowing their addiction to continue. With this in mind, it is now possible to analyze a number of things not to do to avoid enabling an addict.

What Not to Do

It may be difficult at first to stop enabling an addicted loved one, but it will ultimately be much more beneficial for the loved one if they are pushed to seek the help they need to combat their addiction. Below are several examples of what not to do to avoid enabling an addict.

Make Excuses or Cover Up the Behavior: It may be tempting to rationalize actions taken by an addict but to avoid enabling their addiction it is important to be honest about their behavior. It is important to show your loved one that there are consequences to their addiction and to stop helping them hide and cover up their addiction.

If they come home high and do not wake up for work, do not take it upon yourself to make sure they get up on time and make it to the office. If they are high or drunk at a function and become loud and openly intoxicated, do not cover for them by making a joke or explaining their behavior to make the social interaction more normal.

Buy or Offer Drugs or Alcohol to the Addicted Individual: This may seem like an obvious action to avoid, but some loved ones may rationalize offering drugs or alcohol to their loved one because they are a common part of everyday life for many adults. For some addicts, they may use drugs or drink alcohol as a means to “celebrate,” but as a family member it is important not to encourage this behavior or foster it in any way. If you believe a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is vital to stop offering or buying them drugs or alcohol of any kind.

Ignore Financial or Emotional Consequences: If a loved one’s addiction is having financial or emotional consequences for their family or friends, it is important to not ignore these issues and instead to confront them with the individual.

By avoiding the actions listed above you can make sure you are not enabling the loved one in your life who has an addiction. It can be hard to put your foot down and watch them suffer, but ultimately, it is the best thing for them. Call Luminance Recovery today to get your loved one the treatment they need to overcome their addiction.

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