Are You Enabling an Addict? 5 Things to Avoid
Just as it can be easy to fall into the cycle of addiction, many fall into the cycle of enabling an addict who is a friend or loved one. Here’s how to help.
Keyword(s): enabling an addict
In the past month alone, 24.6 Americans have used an illegal drug of some kind – and it can be shockingly easy to develop an addiction.
Equally as common – well-meaning or just confused friends and family members who end up enabling an addict. Here, we’re telling you 5 signs you’re enabling an addict in your life.
How Am I Enabling An Addict?
Enabling an addict is when you make it easy for (in some cases even encourage) or make excuses for the addict in your family, giving them ways and reasons to keep using.
Examples of this could be buying alcohol for them, insisting that they don’t really have a problem, continuing to let them live with you, or refusing to tell them to get help.
But with 88,000 people dying because of alcohol abuse every year, enabling can have truly deadly consequences.
Sign 1: You’re Putting An Addict’s Needs Above Your Own
When you really care for someone (especially if you’re the parent of an abuser) you likely think you’re doing them a favor by dropping whatever you’re doing to bail them out of trouble.
But really, all you’re doing (in addition to exhausting yourself) is enabling an addict by reinforcing the idea that, no matter what they do, you’ll always be there to pick up the pieces. Next time, don’t bail them out or pick up the phone.
Sign 2: You’re Financially Supporting Them
We know it may not seem like you’re enabling an addict if you lend them money for food, shelter, or clothing – but often times, that money ends up going right back to supporting their habit.
Instead, try inviting them over for a meal or going grocery shopping together.
Sign 3: You’re Lying About Their Behavior To Others
Whether you want to protect your own reputation or the addict’s, lying to others to cover for their behavior is a bad idea – and one that is a form of enabling.
You don’t have to announce to everyone you meet that a loved one is an addict, but when they ask you to lie for them so they can keep using, be honest with others – it may open up a great conversation about recovery options.
Sign 4: You Blame Others For The Addict’s Problems
Sure, addiction can sometimes be an inherited family trait or caused by tough circumstances in an addict’s life – but making excuses about why an addict is using is a form of justification, which is a sign you’re enabling.
Reality check: no one else controls an addict’s decisions but themselves.
Sign 5: You Find Yourself Resenting The Addict
This is a huge sign something is up – would you really be feeling so much anger and even hatred towards an addict if you weren’t taking some form of an active role in their lifestyle?
Seek Help To Stop Enabling An Addict
Resources like Al-Anon help family members of an addict learn how to break the cycle of enabling. To find meetings in your area, look through our recovery listing database and keep reading our blog for more advice.