Am I enabling?

Enabling is offering “help” that actually hurts your addicted loved one. Enabling includes doing for your loved one what they are able to or should do for themselves. Some examples include paying their bills, taking care of their legal issues/expenses, allowing them to stay in your home, buying food for them on a regular basis, driving them places, calling in sick to work for them, or giving them money. It may seem cruel not to “help,” but enabling allows your drug addicted loved one to continue their destructive behavior. Enabling can be difficult to recognize, because we want what is best for our loved ones and want to show our love and support. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help recognize helpful versus enabling behavior.

Do:

  • Do set boundaries and stick to them.
  • Do take care of yourself, self-care is not selfish.
  • Do get support from places like Al-Anon, Nar-anon, Alateen, Co-Dependants Anonymous, as well as forms of family therapy when needed.
  • Do look into professional drug treatment and rehabilitation services.
  • Do educate yourself on addiction.
  • Do encourage your loved one to seek help.
  • Do support the recovery of your loved one.
  • Do remember the needs of other family members.
  • Do recognize that addiction is a disease.
  • Do make a commitment to stop enabling.

Don’t:

  • Don’t support your addicted loved one financially.
  • Don’t let their addiction take over your life.
  • Don’t lecture and intimidate.
  • Don’t try to control your addicted loved one.
  • Don’t give into manipulation.
  • Don’t shame or ridicule.
  • Don’t make excuses or “cover” for them.
  • Don’t blame yourself or others.
  • Don’t feel guilty.
  • Don’t wait and hope it gets better, take action now!

“The hardest thing I had to do was change the locks on my door.”

“I took an active stance on finding her whereabouts and notifying the police of any information that would lead to her capture. She was wanted for breaking her probation. I knew she was on the street using again.”

“You know MIMI, I don’t really know my mom at my older age.”
-8 year old child whose mother had been incarcerated since she was age 5

Addiction Recovery Assistance