Am I An Enabler? 5 Signs You Are Enabling an Addict

Am I An Enabler? 5 Signs You Are Enabling an Addict

Having a loved one struggling with addiction can be extremely challenging and often difficult to navigate.

Knowing how to handle a loved one with a drug or alcohol addiction can be extremely tough, especially as there is a fine line between enabling an addict and helping them. If you are questioning whether you are enabling somebody’s addiction, the chances are that the answer is yes.

Find out the signs you are enabling an addict here and our tips to manage a loved one with an addiction.


What is an Enabler?

An enabler is someone who knowingly or unknowingly enables or facilitates another person’s harmful or destructive behaviour by providing support, covering up for them, or preventing them from facing the consequences of their actions.

Enabling behaviour can help to continue a cycle of dependency, dysfunction, or addiction, which ultimately hinders the other person’s ability to address and overcome their problems with substance abuse.

Enablers often have good intentions and may believe they are helping the other person by providing support or assistance. However, their actions can instead reinforce negative patterns and prevent the person from taking responsibility for their behaviour and making positive changes in their life.

Although enablers often have good intentions, they can actually be negative for the person struggling.


Am I an Enabler? 5 Telltale Signs

Determining whether you’re enabling someone can be complex, but here are five common signs that you are an enabler:

You Make Excuses for Their Behaviour

If you find yourself frequently making excuses or justifying the actions of someone else, especially when those actions are harmful or destructive, it could indicate enabling behaviour.

Enablers often try to downplay or rationalise the consequences of the other person’s behaviour which often doesn’t help them recovery or take responsibility of their own actions.

You Protect Them from Consequences

Enablers may shield the person they’re enabling from facing the natural consequences of their actions. This can include bailing them out of trouble, covering up their mistakes, or taking on responsibilities that should have been taken on by the other person.

Enabling parents often shield and protect their children from consequences, but keeping a child with addiction accountable for their actions actually helps.

You Ignore or Minimise Problems

Enablers may ignore or minimise the problems that have been caused by the person they’re enabling. They might avoid discussing difficult topics or dismiss concerns raised by others, preferring to maintain a sense of normalcy or avoid conflict.

You Regularly Sacrifice Your Own Needs

If you regularly prioritise the needs and desires of the person you’re enabling over your own well-being, it could be a sign of enabling behaviour. Enablers often neglect their own needs and boundaries in an effort to support or accommodate the other person.

You Often Feel Resentful or Frustrated

Enabling behaviour can lead to feelings of resentment, frustration, or burnout over time. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the demands or behaviour of the person you’re enabling, it’s important to reflect on whether your actions are truly helping them or perpetuating a harmful cycle.

If you recognise these signs in your behaviour, it may be worth seeking support or guidance from a therapist or counsellor to explore healthier ways of relating to the person you’re concerned about.

Setting boundaries, practising self-care, and encouraging accountability can be important steps in breaking the cycle of enabling and fostering positive change.


How to Help a Loved One With Addiction

Supporting a loved one with addiction can be challenging, but it’s crucial to approach the situation with empathy, understanding, and patience.

Here are some ways you can help a person with an addiction without enabling an addict include:

1. Educate Yourself: Learn about drug and alcohol addiction, its causes, and available treatment options locally and further afield. Understanding the nature of addiction can help you approach your loved one with empathy and compassion, as the condition can often be frustrating for loved ones.

2. Open Communication: Encourage open and honest communication with your loved one and let them know that you are there to listen without judgment whenever they’re ready to talk about their experiences and feelings.

3. Offer Support: Let your loved one know that you’re there to support them through their journey to recovery. Offer to accompany them to therapy sessions, support group meetings, or doctor’s appointments if they’re comfortable with you being there.

4. Set Clear Boundaries: While offering support, it’s essential to set boundaries to protect yourself from being harmed or enabling their addiction. It is also best to be clear about what behaviours you will and will not tolerate as this can help avoid enabling behaviour.

5. Encourage Addiction Treatment: Encourage your loved one to seek professional help for their addiction. Offer to help them research treatment options, find a therapist or support group, or accompany them to their appointments. We can aid you with this at Cassiobury Court if you need our help.

6. Be Patient: Recovery from substance abuse is a long and challenging process, and relapses are common. Be patient with your loved one and acknowledge their progress, no matter how small it may seem. If a relapse does occur, this does not mean that addiction is unattainable – recovery is a journey which often has many ups and downs.


Reach Out for Help and Addiction Intervention

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, seeking professional support is the most recommended option to help both of you. Many people who have loved ones with a drug or alcohol addiction require specialist help in order to avoid enabling behaviour.

At Cassiobury Court, we offer addiction interventions to support and guide families who want to get help for a loved one. We can then provide detox and residential therapy treatments to help people recover from addiction.
Get in touch today to learn more about our services or phone us on 0800 001 4070.