Subtle Ways You’re Enabling

September 6, 2017
Subtle Ways You’re Enabling

Addiction is a tricky disease that is sometimes hard to approach. Often times we find it easier to give in than to fight it and that can be the case with ourselves and even loved ones. While you may be doing your best to support someone in this trying time, you could be doing something far more detrimental. In order to know whether you are creating a problem within another, you must understand how your behaviors affect others. Here are five signs that your help may be enabling.

#1 Allowances

No, not the few bucks you give your kid for taking out the trash. Here, we are talking about the financial assistance that allows drug use to continue. Addiction places drugs over many if not most other things, meaning that most money received may be used to buy illegal substances. If the user has been experiencing a hard time maintaining their expenses due to wasting their own funds on drugs, providing this assistance only enables them further.


#2 Placing their needs in front of your own

Addicts often need help. Whether is be financially or emotionally, help is a constant in the lives of an addict. By placing their needs in front of your own, not only are you sending the message that you place yourself second, but also that their needs will consistently be met, even if others have to take a backseat. While you may believe that putting your loved one first is the right thing to do when they are suffering, understand that the addiction will become the addict’s priority and seek out anything and anyone that will allow it to flourish.


#3 Being Placed in Harm’s Way

Do you ever notice that you may be engaging in riskier behavior than normal at the expense of keeping your loved one comfortable? While you may believe that you are doing what you believe is helpful in the moment, you are endangering your own life. By allowing yourself to become susceptible to dangerous situations, you are not only risking your health and well-being, but sending off the message that there is no limit to what you would do for them, good or bad.


#4 Cleaning Up Their Messes

This can be taken literally and figuratively. Addiction, as we are well aware of, places priority on substances rather than people. The effects of drug use can lead to symptoms such as fevers, chills, and vomiting with users often failing to bathe and keep their homes clean. Our natural instinct is to help those who cannot seem to help themselves, but in this case you can be sending off the wrong idea. Letting things pile up a bit may be hard at first, but letting your loved one understand that they must continue to live their lives despite their addiction will alleviate the burden on yourself and help them to understand they must take care of themselves.


#5 Lying for Them

Addiction is a disease based around lies. When you are caring for an addicted loved one, it is not hard to pick up on this bad habit. You may make excuses for them, lying to yourself and those around you. Your lying can come from a multitude of reasons including covering up the addict’s behavior and even lying to your loved one concerning the state of your current physical and mental health. By breaking this habit, not only will you help stop the cycle of enabling, but you will set a great example to those abusing your care.


Being an enabler comes from a good place. No one intentionally enables their addicted loved ones and many do not even know it is happening. Understanding what these habits look like and stopping them in their tracks gives your friends and family members the best chance at recovery.


What are some signs of enabling you have recognized in yourself or others? Leave your comment below!

Jenna Nolan

Jenna Nolan is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Jenna enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.