In recovery and the mental health community, the term “enabling” is often used to describe behavior that helps a person stay sick instead of getting well. For example, a person who has a mental health disorder may have somebody make excuses for them instead of acknowledging that somethin’s wrong. With addiction, there are many things a person can do that encourages the addicted person to continue using. You may drive a person to and from bars to prevent them from finding their own way home or give a drug abuser money that they inevitably spend on drugs. These behaviors hurt both the substance user and the person who takes the action. They enable addiction to take its toll unchecked.

3 Signs of Enabling

  1. You do things for your loved one and not for yourself. Enabling can cause a substance abuser to depend on you more and more because their life is in shambles. You may neglect your own needs often to help – yet none of your help seems to stop them from getting high or drunk!
  2. You feel like you’re taking care of two people (or more!) Enabling can become a full-time job as you spend time cleaning up messes, paying for things, and taking emergency phone calls in the middle of the night. Substance abuse can cause a lot of drama. If you are already a caretaker in life, this can cause you to feel like you’re “mothering” or “fathering” an adult.
  3. You are starting to resent the person you’re “helping”. A person in active addiction may not notice the toll that their actions take on you. It can be exhausting to try to help another person while you still take care of your own responsibilities. It can be exhausting and cause you to resent the person you’re trying to help!

Addiction can cause a lot of wounds in relationships, and if you’re enabling a loved one, it may be time to take a step back and start to care for yourself again. Setting boundaries is necessary and helpful when it comes time for your loved one to seek recovery.

Getting Help for Your Loved One and Yourself

If your loved one is causing you grief and pain, and they are still slipping into a downward spiral, you may want to try and stage an intervention with the help of addiction recovery professionals. You also should seek out support of others – such as a support group or therapist – to help you stop enabling and start healing.

Do you need a suggestion for a treatment center or support group? Please give us a call at 866-227-1437.