How to Stop Enabling Behavior with an Addicted Loved One

how to stop enabling behvior

How to Stop Enabling Behavior with an Addicted Loved One

Do you know if you need to stop enabling behavior if you have an addicted loved one?  Addiction is a complex interaction of physical, psychological and behavioral factors. One of the traits of addicts is their ability to draw the people around them into helping to support their addiction in various ways. This action is called enabling, and it helps to keep the cycle of addiction going. The addict’s friends and family must learn to stop the process of helping them continue to abuse substances. This process often takes a great deal of self-analysis and re-programming of behavior.

Why You Should Stop Enabling Behavior and Codependency

It often involves care-taking in order to maintain control over an out-of-control situation. Enabling most frequently occurs with younger teens, which comprised 52 percent of the new illicit drug users in 2012.

Types of Enabling Behavior

Enabling can take a number of different forms. If you see yourself in any of these behaviors, it may be time to review your interactions with your substance-abusing loved one:

  •  Providing money for the addict
  •  Lying to employers or others to cover up the addict’s absenteeism
  •  Repairing damage to property done by the addict
  •  Excusing the addict’s behavior
  •  Covering up the addict’s behavior
  •  Fulfilling commitments made by the addict
  •  Screening phone calls for the addict
  •  Bailing the addict out of jail
  •  Patching up relationships the addict has broken

Short-Term Pain With Long-Term Gain

Stopping the enabling behavior that contributes to the abuse of substances can be painful. It is only when a person stops enabling that they see how low the alcohol or drugs have brought their loved one. With their continued support of the substance abuse, the addiction continues on and on, often to the point of overdose and death. Without the enabling, the addict is forced to deal with the consequences of the addiction, and this can often drive them to get help for their problem.

Practical Ways to Stop Enabling

Although learning to refrain from helping the addict in covering their tracks and avoiding the consequences of their behavior can be a difficult process, you can make daily progress when withdrawing your support of the addiction by doing the following:

  •  Don’t clean up vomit or other messes made by the addict.
  •  Refrain from giving the addict any money.
  •  Do not help the addict to bed when they have passed out somewhere.
  •  Stop making excuses for the addict’s behavior.
  •  Stop hiding the cause of the behavior from family, friends, and others.
  •  Allow the addict to get fired, lose a driver’s license, get thrown out of school.
  •  Do not take on driving tasks for the addict.
  •  Do not bail the abuser out of jail or pay for court costs.
  •  Join a support group to help you change your behavior.

Learning new methods of helping and trying to stop enabling behavior can be for individuals close to an addict.


Comments (8)

  1. Diane C Reply

    Boy, this seems like it would be really tough to do but I can also see the benefits of doing it. Obviously the sooner you can get the person taking full responsibility for themselves and the effects they create on others and their environment, the better off they will be. People talk about tough love. I guess this is what they mean. If you really care for them, you will do whatever it takes to help them and if that means to cut off doing things to “help” them, then that’s what has to be done.

    1. Jeremy Reply

      I totally agree Diane! I have been down this road with my daughter. She would steal, lie and manipulate to get what she wanted from me until I finally stood my ground and told her she was going to rehab. Tough love is the only way!

  2. Lori Reply

    I was an enabler for the longest time. At the moment you don’t realize it because you love that person. What we have to stop and think is how are we helping someone that we love by killing them.

  3. Samantha Reply

    This information is very good. I have been an enabler for probably 15 years and am just realizing that I can’t fix the problem.

  4. Gina M Reply

    I have seen this, the begging for money “just this one last time”, the asking for help in the cover-up, providing alibi, etc. When you love someone and they ask you for your “help”, it is incredibly hard to say no. But in this case you must because what they ask does not HELP them. It’s he opposite. I hope this article serves as a good reminder to those who need it.

  5. Chuck Reply

    For parents, it’s so hard to stop enabling. Sometimes tough love is the only thing that works, though.

  6. Mary Reply

    As a parent I know how hard it would be to completely cut your child off from everything. It would be extremely difficult to see them suffering and in pain. You would constantly have to keep an open mind and think about the end result of the withdrawal process. I have to give credit to the parents that have been through this.

  7. Jennifer Reply

    I could have written the book on enabling. I have always wanted to think the best of everyone, and so it went with my daughter. After an overdose of heartbreak and huge financial loss, I finally realized that I couldn’t “fix” her. Still struggling with this issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *