Tips to Help You Stop Enabling Your Addicted Loved One

What Is an Enabler?

An enabler sincerely believes he or she is helping the addict by showing concern for, and loyalty to, someone whom appears to be a “victim.” The addict-victim is often the child of a parent-enabler who feels guilty about not being the perfect parent. Enablers are controlled by distorted thinking patterns, similar to an addict’s thought patterns that perpetuate the addiction by avoiding the issue altogether.

Am I Being an Enabler?

  • Enablers dislike confrontation and will deliberately avoid confronting the addict. They believe that, by preventing (avoiding) conflict, the problem will eventually solve itself.
  • Enablers are in denial and will refuse to acknowledge the loved one’s addiction.
  • Enablers suppress their true feelings to avoid conflict with the addict. This anger and resentment they repress typically develops into clinical depression and anxiety.
  • Enablers are great “minimizers.” One of their mantras is, “It isn’t as bad as you think. He (or she) is just going through a rough time right now.”
  • Enablers engage in contradictory behavior by helping the addict maintain their addiction, while criticizing the addict’s inability to get a job, be responsible, etc. This usually leads to the enabler adopting a superior attitude towards the addict, which serves to exacerbate feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth in the addict.


How to Stop Enabling

Stop Reinforcing the Addict’s Behaviors

Enabling is a form of positive reinforcement that encourages negative behavior in drug addicts. If you always give in to an addict’s demands for money, transportation, food and shelter, you are positively reinforcing (rewarding) their behaviors.

The addict must be allowed to suffer the consequences of their addiction. If you or someone you know is an enabler, put a stop to enabling by staging a one-on-one intervention with the addict. Make sure the addict understands that:

  • They will no longer receive money from family members or friends to buy anything — not even food — if they continue abusing drugs.
  • No one will provide transportation for the addict any longer until they agree to get help.
  • If the addict goes to jail, no one will bail him or her out.
  • If the addict is living with a family member, he or she will have to find another place to stay if refusal to get treatment continues.
  • Family members and friends will break all contact with the addict if he or she refuses treatment.

Seek Professional Help
If you can’t bring yourself to stop enabling an addict, get professional assistance from a therapist who can show you how to stop being an enabler. You may even need to get law enforcement involved when you stop enabling an addict who is used to someone supporting their substance addiction.

When you stop giving them everything they want, they will be angry, desperate and irrational. They may threaten you with bodily harm. They may threaten to burn your home, or worse. However, enablers need to understand that helping an addict means letting them suffer the consequences of their behaviors, even if it means homelessness or incarceration.

Call 12 Keys Rehab to Speak to a Drug Interventionist
For immediate help with enabling behaviors, call us today to find out how we can stage a therapist-moderated intervention with you, your family and your addicted loved one. We have an interventionist available 24/7 to take your call, provide information about staging an intervention and offer support when you need it the most. Contact us today.

The Addiction Blog