How to Not Enable an Addict

Written by Chloe Nicosia

How to Not Enable an Addict: How to Stop Being an Enabler to a Drug Addict

If someone you love starts showing signs of addiction and is getting help for their addiction, you’re going to start hearing the word “enable” and “enabler” relatively frequently. Most importantly, a lot of people may start telling you not to enable your loved one’s addiction. What exactly does this mean, and how does one figure out how to not enable an addict?

“Enabling” essentially boils down to aiding them in their addiction, directly or otherwise. Some great examples of enabling are helping them avoid financial or legal consequences of their addiction by giving them financial backing or a place to stay. While these may seem like duties you need to provide as a friend or family member, they are not, and an addict will take advantage of every courtesy to continue in their addiction. In this article, we are going to take a look at enabling as a whole, how to stop enabling an alcohol or drug addict, and what steps you need to take to do it effectively without cutting the recovering addict out of your life entirely.

How to Not Enable an Addict: First Gain a Better Understanding of What They’re Going Through

By reading this article, you’re already starting to work on this step, but there are a number of great resources concerned family members can turn to in order to educated themselves about addiction, some of which, also offer excellent insight into how to not enable an addict. A great example of this would the addiction support group Al-Anon. This group helps family members meet and share with other people whose loved ones are suffering from addiction. This helps facilitate a level of understanding between the addict and the friends and family that are trying to figure out what they are going through and how to not enable a drug addict, in this case their family or friend.

The reason this is important, is because it gives you perspective as someone close to the addict, it helps you understand how these seemingly harmless favors and support can be misused in a way that furthers their addiction. Once you have a better understanding of what an addict may take advantage of, and of what enabling is as it relates to addiction, you can start making the changes necessary to avoid becoming an enabler.

How to Stop Being an Enabler to an Alcoholic or Drug Addict: Cutting the Cord

This is one of the hardest steps for friends and family of someone struggling with addiction, especially for the parents of an addict. When professionals use the word “enabling” many people immediately become lost and do not understand what it exactly means. Enabling is the support of an addiction, either through direct means or simply by allowing it to happen. This means making idle threats that are never backed up, providing for addicts financially, through transportation, or even housing. It’s understandable when you put it into perspective, parents always want to take care of their children, they want to see them with a place to stay, a job, a healthy lifestyle etc. But at times this can turn into hurtful support for the addict. Giving them financial support while they’re using drugs and alcohol helps them fund and continue their habit, keeping you further and further away from getting a loved one into rehab. Providing housing even when they are refusing treatment and showing no interest in living under your rules, including drug-free policies, is again keeping you further and further from changing their behavior. If you want to know how to not enable an addict, you need to take a long hard look at what you do for them, and start setting realistic and healthy boundaries that will encourage them to quit or get the help they need to quit their substance abuse.

How to Not Enable an Addict: Don’t Ignore the Problem

One of the reasons why knowing what to say to someone in drug treatment can be so hard at times, is because most people have no experience with substance abuse treatment and recovery. That’s why the best advice we can give anyone trying to learn how to how to stop enabling an alcoholic or drug addict is to listen to their family member, try your best to empathize with them, and let them know that you understand their situation. By expressing an interest in learning about what they are going through, you are offering them a level of understanding that can help them feel less alone, less estranged, and less ashamed of their current situation. This type of mutual understanding can really help someone open up about their drug use, the state of their recovery, and overall it can really help them prevent relapses later on by promoting an open and honest dialogue between the recovering addict and their loved ones. The best thing you can do after placing healthy boundaries and stopping what you can initial construe as enabling, is to listen to them. Talk about their problem. Check on their progress. Helping someone with their recovery is not enabling them, but ignoring the problem and giving them the means to continue using is.