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How to Tell When You Are Enabling Addiction

The definition of enabling addiction.

When you see a friend or family member struggling with addiction, your natural reaction is to help them in any way you can. However, your actions may not always be the help they need. Instead of helping them face their problem, you could end up enabling their addiction. 

What Is Enabling Addiction?

Enabling addiction is when you believe you are helping the person with the substance abuse problem by doing things that they could do themselves if they were not abusing drugs or alcohol. In other words, you are taking care of their specific needs so they can continue to abuse substances and not have to worry about the consequences. 

What Is the Difference Between Enabling vs. Helping?

The key difference between enabling addiction and help is that when you help someone, you are doing something for them that they cannot do for themselves. With enabling, you are doing things the person could actually do for themselves if they were sober. 

For example, your adult son does not know how to do laundry. So instead of continuing to do his laundry for him, you teach him how to wash and dry his clothes. By showing him how to do his laundry, you are helping him. 

Conversely, if you continue to wash his clothes, you enable him. Since he doesn’t have to do his laundry, he doesn’t have to face the consequences of not having clean clothes. 

What Are Some Common Signs of Enabling Addiction?

To avoid enabling addiction, you need to learn how to recognize some of the more common signs of enabling, including:

#1. Denial 

Even when we are aware they are drinking heavily or using drugs, we can deny they have a problem by downplaying its seriousness. We could even convince ourselves that the addict is just going through a phase and will soon outgrow it. 

#2. Avoidance

When we don’t want to face a problem like substance abuse, we may simply avoid the subject altogether. Unfortunately, by not confronting our loved ones about their substance abuse problems, we can make things worse for everyone affected by their addiction later. 

#3. Providing Financial Support

Suppose we continue lending money to our friend or relative struggling with addiction or pay their bills for them. By providing financial support, they are not having to face the consequences of not having money to support themselves.

#4. Making Excuses

Another way we enable addiction is to make excuses for our loved ones. For example, we may call their employer when they are hungover and say they are sick. In addition, we could tell others they are going through a rough patch to try to explain their addictive behaviors. 

#5. Providing for Their Needs

This enabling behavior is where we take on responsibilities the other person should be able to do themselves. For example, we take care of cleaning their house, doing their laundry, and preparing their meals. By doing these things for them, they can continue to focus on their addiction and have no reason to want to get help. 

By recognizing these common signs, you can take the steps necessary to discontinue these types of behaviors to help the addict in your life. 

How Can I Break the Cycle of Enabling Addiction?

The most difficult part of breaking the cycle of enabling addiction is making some tough choices. Your actions may seem harsh for the addict, especially when you have been enabling them and their addiction. But, no matter how hard it is for you to do this, it is necessary to stop enabling your loved one.

Step #1: Stop providing financial support.

If they cannot pay their bills or take care of their financial needs on their own, then let them face the consequences. Without the financial support, they will have to face the financial impacts of their addiction.

Step #2: Stop making excuses.

By hiding the addiction, you are not helping your loved one. Instead, when you stop making excuses for them, like no longer calling them out sick when they cannot go to work, you force them to face the consequences of their addiction. 

Step #3: Accept they have a substance abuse problem.

When you acknowledge and accept your loved one is struggling with addiction, you will be in a better place to help them rather than to enable them. So, instead of denying it or avoiding it, face it head-on. 

Step #4: Stop providing for their needs.

This step can seem rather challenging because it can leave your loved one in a difficult situation. However, you force them to take care of themselves and their needs by not preparing meals, doing their laundry, cleaning, etc.  

When you stop enabling addiction and allow your loved one to start facing the consequences of their substance abuse problem, it can be difficult to sit by and do nothing. However, you need to do exactly this no matter what. 

Getting Help to Stop Enabling Addiction and Rehab Treatment in Dallas, TX  

If you are ready to stop enabling addiction and learn how to better help your loved one, you can rely on Casa Colina in Dallas. We offer a wide range of family support options and rehab treatment plans for men struggling with addiction. 

To learn more about how to stop enabling addiction and our rehab treatment programs in Dallas, TX for men, please feel free to contact us or call us today.


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