How to Tell If You’re Enabling Your Loved One’s Addiction

Person comforting friend

It’s natural to want to help someone you love and care about, especially if they’re visibly struggling. If your friend is going through a difficult breakup, for instance, you may feel compelled to bring over ice cream and a movie and let them know that better things are coming. Though it can be easy to help loved ones through some tough times and difficult situations, helping someone who has an addiction is easier said than done. Family members and friends who think they’re helping their loved ones are actually doing the exact opposite – they’re enabling them.

Many loved ones, like spouses or parents, will step in to try to help someone with an addiction, only to perpetuate the problem rather than solving it. One key example is when people give their loved ones money that they know will be spent on drugs or alcohol. Some do it willingly with the rationalization that it’s better than having them steal money or the drug itself. However, by giving your loved one money, you are contributing to their addiction and making the situation worse.

Below are some clear signs of an enabler – if you identify with any of the following, you could be making someone’s addiction worse, despite your good intentions:

  • Difficulty expressing emotions: Do you have a hard time expressing how your loved one’s addiction makes you and your family feel and hold back as a result? People often refrain from speaking their minds because of the negative repercussions.
  • Covering your loved one’s behavior: Are you lying and making up excuses to get your loved one out of trouble or hide the fact that they’re struggling? One example of this is the spouse that calls into work to explain to their boss that their loved one is sick, rather than hungover or on a bender.
  • Blaming other people or situations: It’s natural to want to protect your loved one, and as a result, some people will blame other people or situations for the addiction rather than the person with addiction themselves. Some will blame a friend for being a negative influence or a tough life transition like job loss or divorce for the addiction.
  • Prioritizing the struggling person’s needs before their own: Addiction can be toxic to everyone, especially when family members start neglecting their own needs so they can care for their loved ones. When you stop caring for yourself and even your other family members who need you, you are giving control to the addiction.

Breaking the cycle of enabling can be hard, especially if you’ve fallen into a routine of denial or have told yourself that things will “get better.” However, if you truly want your loved one to heal and recover, you must fight against your enabling impulses and address the issue directly. Sometimes what people need most is to be told the truth and that they need to get professional help before things get worse. When you help your loved one find a rehab facility, you can also search for family therapy options so you can be a part of their recovery and learn how to help them – not enable them.

Call Decision Point Center for Family Therapy Options

At Decision Point Center, our team knows from experience that family members are an important part of drug addiction treatment. Addiction doesn’t just affect a person – it impacts the people they surround themselves with. Our team offers different kinds of family therapy so you can learn how to best support your loved one in recovery while avoiding enablement. By equipping you with helpful communication tools, positive outcomes are more likely to occur in your loved one’s journey.

In addition to individual family therapy, we also offer Bowenian family therapy and family sculpting, the latter of which is a technique used to help people in recovery understand their family dynamics and correct memories so they can better cope with similar situations. Our facilities have treatment options for everyone and are happy to discuss your family’s unique situation further when you call.

Call Decision Point Center at (844) 292-5010, or contact us online to learn more about our various family therapy options and how you can play an active and healthy role in your loved one’s recovery.

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