Enabling Are you loving someone to Death?


Enabling, What is it? Signs that you may be enabling a person and advice on you can stop enabling an addicted person.

Those living with, or who are close to, an addicted person tends to become co-dependent. This means that they too will develop an addiction of sorts. However, their addiction is not to a particular substance or activity. In fact, it is an addiction to the addicted person. The co-dependent person will change his or her behaviour and actions as their life becomes consumed by the addict.

It is our natural instinct to want to take care of and support those we love, when they having problems. However, when we take care of certain illnesses such as addiction, helping can have the reverse effect of what is intended.

What is an Enabler?

An enabler is someone who helps the addicted person to continue in their addiction, by taking responsibility for the addicted persons actions. Instead of your addicted loved one experiencing the consequences of their behaviour, the enabler takes it on.

Signs you may be enabling.

  • Making excuses for the addicted person.
  • Accepting responsibility for his or her abusive or unhealthy behaviour.
  • Avoiding a subject in fear of confrontation.
  • Loaning money or paying bills
  • Threatening to kick them out but never following through with it (or taking them back after you kicked them out)
  • Ignoring unacceptable behaviour.
  • Putting aside your own needs and desires, to help.
  • Blaming other people for problems the addict is creating, rather than confronting them on it.
  • Continuing to help even though it is never appreciated or acknowledged.
  • Repeatedly bailing them out of jail, financial problems, or other tight spots they get themselves into.
  • Giving one more chance … then another…and another…
  • Ignoring the problem (because they get defensive when you bring it up)
  • Drinking or using drugs with them, despite knowing they have a serious problem.
  • Buying into their excuses, such as “I drink because I’m depressed.”
  • Doing things for them that they could and should, be doing for themselves
  • Trying to “fix” them or their problems.
  • Repeatedly coming to the rescue.
  • Neglecting other significant relationships.

Why Its Harmful to Enable an Addict

Although you may feel that you are helping your loved one, you could be causing real damage by enabling him or her to carry on abusing substances such as alcohol and drugs. A drug addiction, for example, can lead to devastating consequences including job loss, financial hardship, relationship breakdowns and serious health problems. By allowing an addicted person to continue abusing drugs, he or she will not face up to the problem and could suffer greatly as a result.

A person with addiction must be made to acknowledge the issue as soon as possible. This can be tough, especially if he or she is in denial. Nevertheless, the sooner he or she gets help, the better the outcome will, or should, be. No matter how much you think you are helping, you need to take a step back and allow your loved one to face the consequences of his or her actions. This may be an alien concept to you, but the phrase ‘being cruel to be kind’ has real meaning in the life of an addict and his or her family members.

Good Intentions

However good your intentions, you can bet that the addicted individual is taking full advantage of them. He or she will know that you are going to be there no matter how bad things get. Your addicted loved one has become manipulative in terms of getting what he or she wants and will repeatedly abuse your good nature until you make the decision to stop enabling. The good news is that help is available for those with alcohol problems, with many organisations offering treatments such as alcohol detox and long-term recovery programmes

7 tips for family members to stop enabling an addict

Families are designed to support one another, protect one another, and insulate one another. Being a part of a family means facing the world with the strength and support of loving, caring peers. Enabling is a habit, and like most habits, it can be broken. Here are seven steps families can take to break the enabling cycle.

  1. Work with a counsellor
  2. Don’t make excuses or cover up the behaviour
  3. Don’t buy or offer drugs or alcohol to the abuser
  4. Gain support from peers
  5. Let law do their job
  6. Reassess financial relationships
  7. Continue to emphasise treatment for addiction

Without truth, honesty and transparency, recovery is impossible.

If you’re participating in behaviours you feel guilty for, you will continue to enable. The best help you can provide your addicted loved one, is to lead by example. Be a healthy role model. One who is willing to do whatever it takes – meetings, getting a sponsor, counselling and learning how to set boundaries – to become well.

Tabor Group

Tabor Group is a leading provider of residential addiction treatment services in Ireland. We provide support and care to hundreds of clients each year suffering from addictions to alcohol, substances, gambling and food. Tabor Group offers hope, healing and recovery to addicted people and their families through integrated and caring services. For more information on Tabor Group’s services Click Here

Get Help at Tabor Group

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling or Food get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today at +353 (21) 488 7110 or Email Us and we can help you

With the right support, you’ll never have to make another uneducated life and death decision for your addicted loved one again.