Enabling is an important term in the world of addiction. An enabler is someone who removes the consequences of someone else’s negative behavior, not allowing them to experience the damages of their own actions. Often an addict relies on an enabler such as a spouse, sibling, a friend, or a parent that fuels their addiction. An enabler does not necessarily intend on supporting an addict of a loved one, but they may do so through certain behaviors.
How can you tell if you’re an enabler?
Enablers tend to feel responsible for the problems of the addict. They will take on that person’s responsibilities and solve their problems for them. The intentions of an enabler start out innocent, but the problem with this is that the addict is never truly experiencing the consequences and damages of their addiction, which is proven to be the greatest incentive to stop using.
An enabler provides financial support to an addict when they ask for it. Whether through begging, or a cover such as needing gas money, by providing the codependent with money you are ultimately enabling an addict and funding their addiction. An enabler pays for things like a car that helps the addict access their drugs, a phone that helps them contact their dealer, and an apartment where the addict gives in to the addiction.
An enabler makes excuses for an addict. Covering up bad drunken or high behavior, calling the addict out of work, handling their responsibilities, and making excuses for their actions all results in enabling an addict.
If you or someone you know is enabling an addict, there are ways you can help them without feeding their addiction and negative behaviors.
How can you stop enabling an addict?
You can provide them with food, whether at your house or meeting somewhere for a shared meal. This is a good way to spend time with them without providing them with money that would be otherwise used for their habit.
You can be there for the addict. Answer the phone when they call, but do not make the phone calls to their employers or handle their responsibilities for them.
You can help them find professional help and treatment they need. The sober living facility for men at Boca House offers a safe, sober environment for those in recovery.
Treat their addiction like the disease that it is. Do not undermine it, do not make excuses, and certainly do not encourage their addictive behavior.