The Truth About Enabling

The Truth About Enabling

We all want to see our loved ones succeed, but problematic enabling can create more damage than support. Furthermore, enabling often perpetuates chronic issues rather than solve them. 

That said, the signs of enabling aren’t always obvious. Well-intentioned loved ones might not even be aware of their toxic patterns. Let’s get into what you need to know.

What Is Enabling?

Enabling refers to any action (or lack thereof) that permits people struggling with addiction to continue their damaging behaviors. Enabling essentially protects people from reaping the full consequences of their decisions. 

Enabling comes in many shapes and forms. Some behaviors can be extremely blatant, such as buying drugs for someone complaining of withdrawal. Other behaviors are far more covert, such as telling your friend a white lie about missing their party instead of acknowledging that your partner is hungover. 

Most enablers aren’t malicious. If anything, they often care deeply about their loved ones. They want to protect them from pain. In some cases, they feel guilty or responsible for the addiction and decide to take responsibility for it themselves. 

What Are Some Common Signs of Enabling?

Enabling refers to specific actions that remove responsibility from someone else’s decisions. Your efforts to enable may be subconscious or planned, but they inadvertently reinforce someone’s addiction.

Denial: Denial can mean minimizing, downplaying, or making excuses for someone’s addiction. Instead of recognizing the full impact, you might dismiss the behavior as “not that bad.” You may also compare your loved one’s addiction to someone else’s.

Lying: Loved ones may enable by lying. They might, for example, lie to their loved one to avoid triggering their desire to drink or use. They may also lie about their behavior to others. 

Blaming: You may blame yourself for some or all of the addiction. In response to this blame, you might avoid setting boundaries or implementing consequences with your loved one.

Lecturing: Some people try to preach or educate their loved one about addiction. While your motives might be excellent, this guidance is typically ignored and disrespected. 

Staying silent: Instead of confronting your loved one or setting boundaries, you might choose to avoid the topic altogether. This enabling tactic often comes from a place of hoping things resolve on their own. You also probably don’t want to cause more friction, so you don’t say anything at all.

Drinking/using together: You might falsely assume that you can responsibly oversee how your loved one drinks or uses. This sign of enabling is common with spouses and parents. They believe they can essentially “control” the addiction if they are there to observe it.

Unable to say no: Even if you have rules, you may avoid being consistent with them. You don’t want to hurt your loved one’s feelings. You also don’t want them in danger. Even if the addiction is running both your lives, you don’t know how to set limits. 

How to Stop Enabling

Addiction is undoubtedly complicated. In addition, breaking enabling behavior can be challenging, but it’s an essential step for your recovery and emotional well-being.

Get your own support: Consider seeking therapy or attending a support group, like Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous. These groups offer a sense of community and practical tools for stopping enabling behavior.

Identify your boundaries: You are allowed to set limits for yourself. Define the non-negotiable boundaries in your life. Aim to stop tolerating any physically, emotionally, or financially abusive behavior. Write down these boundaries as a reminder of your priorities.

Practice saying no: Even if it’s hard, you have the right to say no at any time. It may enrage your loved one, but continuously setting limits conveys self-respect and demonstrates that you can’t be taken advantage of anymore.

Be consistent: Above anything else, consistency is critical. If you set a boundary, you must follow through with it every time. Keep in mind this will feel painful, but the more you stick with it, the easier it may become.

Practice ongoing self-care: Don’t neglect your physical and emotional well-being. Addiction can be consuming, but you need to take care of yourself. Despite what’s going on with your loved one, make sure you build time to focus on your own needs and happiness. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, please contact one of our addiction specialists and call (866) 578-7471.

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43 comments
  1. This article hit the point about enablers. It isn’t intentional from the enablers most times to help from the wrong channel. This read is an eye opener. Thanks for this.

  2. This is an informative and we’ll detailed piece of article . I had no idea about all of this not until now. Thank you guys for sharing.

  3. Enabling behaviors worsens drug addiction problem. It needs to be broken if one want to break the drug addiction problem. thanks for pointing this out.. its a very essential topic that need to be discussed…I just hope people learn how to stop enabling

  4. I was thinking enabling, simply go the other way round, I never knew its simply the opposite, which means enabling alcohol addiction.

  5. Thank you Detax to rehab for sharing these type of stories with all of us. These stories are really very much inspirational for many people who are addicted with something and try to recover from that.

  6. I like the remedies you have suggested, there are all great points but I like saying No most. we should take responsibility for our action, let always learn to stay away from people that want to take advantage of us

  7. Enabling refers to any action that permits people struggling with addiction to continue their damaging behaviors. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  8. Enable refers to the positive act of helping someone accomplish something that could not be done alone. But enabling also refers to the act of helping someone in such a way that rather than solving a problem, it is in fact being perpetuated.

  9. This is so informative and educative thank you detox for finding out time to educate us on a lot of things. Thanks to you I have learnt a lot already.

  10. Detox to rehab thank you for sharing this useful information, very educative I just learnt the truth about enabling, very detailed step to stop enabling, most times we feel we are helping a loved one but most times we are contributing more to there misfortunes.

  11. I am always amazed by blog like this, that promote not only about improving your life but also helping us to become a better person.I want to say thank you for Writing this very helpful.

  12. This is an eye opening article. Very educative and informative. Thanks for sharing this and imparting my knowledge on what Enabling is all about.

  13. This is really deep. A good read though. I really enjoyed learning new terms and what they mean. Thank you so much for keeping us updated.

  14. Beautiful master piece of writing. This article is very educative. Truly putting the practice of how to stop enabling could go a long way in minimizing alcohol and drug addiction.

  15. I am no fan of enablers? Enabling someone from a good thing is different from a vice or an addiction. You are not helping them thus you are making it worse. At times I am no believer of tough love but I will make an exception for this.

  16. I love this article it really widden my knowledge, very educative and informative. Many people perish because they lack knowledge. Thanks to detox to rehab for sharing.

  17. Just seeing something like Enabling and this piece is very educative. Denial, lieing, lecturing etc are all signs of enabling. It can be stop by following all highlighted steps.

  18. Some family dont know that their actions are enabling the affected person to continue in their addiction. This article shed a light on how to know when you are enabling an addict to continue on that path.

  19. I had not known about enabling. I now know something which is helpful. I think am in a situation that requires the remedies. Thank you for sharing.

  20. These are fact finding write up because it reveals those things we have been neglecting or negligence about. Thanks for this piece of information.

  21. In reality, enabling appears to cause more damage than would imagine. Victims are advised to look before it’s too late.

  22. Staying silent is the most common to me, knowing its bad but we decide not to talk because we fear rejection from the person. Enabling can be as little as this

  23. Enabling to many addicts seems like brotherhood , but this post has been really enlightening. One could be enabling even as a loved on and it’s important to know where to draw the line and help them.

  24. This is a great writup which no one must miss to read and follow the goods in it. Looking at what enabling means and the common signs figures out in it. Thanks for this good post.

  25. I have a senior cousin that smokes and wanted to make me and enabler by always wanting me to give her money to buy heroin to smoke. I refused because I know I will be enabling the habit more.

  26. Enabling is what encourages some to see no reason to find purpose for their lifes. We should always complain and advice when we see wrong thing.

  27. This article is very articulate, informative and educative. I am so happy to be a beneficiary of this information. Will sure share with friends in order to be of help.

  28. I am over joyed when I saw this post. Enabling has been something I have been sourcing for a long time. Now I got a lasting solution to it. With this guides on how to stop enabling am good to go.

  29. I think enabling is opportunity,but if you neglect it for many reason such ut bad for your future, your life, your love everything the enabling Will not reached out you

  30. Based on this write up enabling iṣ seeing as a means of encouraging bad behaviour. It is not a good idea because it brings out devilish attitude in men

  31. Support from the people around us is really essential in our well-being. There are people who just can’t speak about what is going on around them. And we must also be sensitive to detect a person who is in need.

  32. The act of enabling must be stopped by any drug addicts. Kudos to Detox for unrelenting efforts to rehabilitate drug addicts.

  33. Indeed, this is an educative article which is an eye opener for the drug addicts. It is imperative to key into this opportunity.

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