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Signs You’re Enabling Drug Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are increasingly serious issues in the US. Dealing with addiction in your relationship or family is a debilitating and complex issue. Unfortunately, enabling drug addiction behavior is becoming more common. This behavior is dangerous for both the user and their loved ones. 

An essential step in dealing with addiction is understanding how to help an addict without enabling. Enablers sometimes don’t see the difference between helping and enabling. Since this is an uncomfortable topic for most families, it’s essential to understand the role you play in your loved one’s addiction. A broader understanding may lead to treatment and, ultimately, a full recovery. 

What is Enabling?

Enabling happens when family members or friends inadvertently support someone’s alcohol or drug abuse problem. Enabling behavior is sometimes an attempt to steer an individual away from fully experiencing drug use consequences. Though this behavior is often well-intentioned, it delays or prevents an addict from seeking treatment.  

The root issue with enabling is that it doesn’t allow an addict to have consequences for their actions. As mentioned above, people often try to protect their loved ones from these consequences, only leading to an even worse situation. Enabling only reinforces bad habits with addicts, frequently strengthening addictive behaviors. enabling drug addiction

Signs of Enabling Behavior

There are several signs associated with enabling drug addiction. While most enabling behavior may have a loved one’s best intentions in mind, it may hurt the individual and family in the long run. Most enablers are under the impression they are helping, which is not the case. Some signs related to enabling drug addiction are:

Ignoring Shady Behavior

Odd or shady behavior becomes more prevalent relative to the severity of the addiction. People who become addicted to drugs are guilt-ridden. Addicts don’t show pride in their addiction and often have trouble hiding their shame. Separate from just the way an addict acts, physical behavior can be telling as well. Addicts come and go at odd hours and sneak about to hide their drug use.

Signs regarding the behavior of an addict are obvious and apparent. An individual who is enabling drug addiction chooses to ignore these signs. It may be consciously or even subconsciously. People tend to ignore shady behavior because they may not want to accept there is a problem altogether. It is important to realize if denial is playing a role in a loved one struggling with addiction. The sooner you can talk to them, the sooner they can get help.  


If addiction has played a role in your relationship or family for a long time, feelings of resentment tend to build up. These feelings fuel the cycle of enabling addiction. It is notably challenging to deal with addiction in loved ones. Over time, people may ignore or hide their feelings about a struggling loved one.

If you’re guilty of ignoring your feelings about the situation, resentment tends to show its face. Resentment is bad for the situation since it ultimately leads to more resentment and not toward getting help. Instead of remaining quiet, take action and express your feelings through Intervention.  

Covering Up Their Addiction

enabling drug addiction

It’s common for enablers to make up excuses for their loved ones who may be struggling. In the short run, this seems like an easier way to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, this is another form of enabling. If the struggling individual is late for a family gathering, you may find yourself covering for them, even though you know why they’re late. Excuses and lying are at the root of enabling drug addiction.

We cover for our loved ones to maintain control. We want to protect our loved ones, and we may think we are doing just that. When an addict sees this behavior, it gives them an excuse to keep using. Enablers often have the best intentions but are ignorant to the fact that they are contributing to the addiction by covering for them. A positive call to action in this scenario is to let the addict face the repercussions of their actions. This alone is sometimes enough for an addict to realize the state they are in. 

Blame Shifting

It is sometimes easier for those dealing with a loved one’s addiction to blame others. They may find solace in blaming other people for their loved one’s drug use, which still does not allow the user to feel responsible for their actions. Family members blindly shift blame to cope while often denying the addiction even exists. 

On some level, the enabler understands their loved one’s addiction. It is important to note that this coping method leads to adverse outcomes for both the addict and the enabler. Sadly, it will not lead the addict to recovery while simultaneously damaging the relationship between enabler and addict. 

Fear of Loss

Enabling drug addiction stems mostly from fear. No one wants to see a loved one go down a path of addiction. Keep in mind that the addict needs help, and the fear of losing them to treatment is irrational. Sometimes the enabler is the wall between the addict and treatment for selfish reasons. 

A change in perspective may help this form of enabling. It may be impossible for the addict to see the big picture. Therefore, you must take steps to act rationally, even in an awful situation.

Taking On Their Responsibilities

Enablers often deal with something called codependency. It’s not uncommon for someone to put the priorities of their struggling loved one before their own. This could mean many things, such as paying their rent, keeping their place clean, or simply taking care of them. This behavior reinforces the addict, making it easier for them to live the life they’re living. 

When the enabler takes on the responsibilities of the addict, it’s harmful to each party. The enabler is riddled with all of the problems that the addict has shrugged off. Enablers often give their loved ones struggling with addiction money, even while knowing they will use it for drugs. The road to recovery is complicated and overwhelming, Addiction Intervention can help you find treatment. 

How To Help an Addict Without Enabling

If you feel responsible for any signs of enabling behavior, it may be time to change your actions or get professional help. The first step is realizing that your behavior may not be helping your loved one. In turn, your behavior may be a catalyst in them seeking treatment. By following these steps, you could help your loved ones recover from their addiction. How To Help an Addict Without Enabling

Set Boundaries

Do not let someone struggling with addiction take advantage of you. Addicts tend to develop manipulative behavior, which sometimes makes it difficult to set boundaries. Remember to be strong for yourself as well as the individual struggling with addiction. Be open and honest to minimize the stress on you as well as your family. 

Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

It is possible to be supportive while not enabling. Note what behavior leads to good outcomes as well as what behavior leads to bad outcomes. Individuals struggling with addiction are in desperate need of support. It is essential to sustain support throughout your loved one’s recovery process. This may mean attending meetings with them. 

Do Not Make Excuses

Take a stand and vow to stop enabling. Specify what signs of enabling behavior you are responsible for. Positive outcomes will not come from continued excuses and lying. Be honest with yourself as well as your loved ones about addiction. Have intimate and open conversations about the situation. Try to take on a third-party perspective and recognize the role your behaviors play in your loved one’s addiction.

Family Therapy

There are several forms of therapy. Each therapy has benefits for specific circumstances. Addiction Intervention can assist you in finding treatment that works for you and your loved one. Family therapy is an excellent tool for dysfunctional families. A different perspective is often needed to help families understand underlying issues or problems leading to addiction. Once these problems become more apparent, it is much easier to start addressing them.


Often, a professional is required to push the enabler and addict in the right direction. It is okay to struggle to open up to a loved one. Being honest and open about the situation is overwhelming. You do not need to do it alone. Consider seeking the aid of a professional interventionist. It could be exactly what is necessary to get your loved one on the road to recovery. 

Get Help Today

Addiction Intervention strives to provide direction for those in need. Drug addiction is a severe issue for not only the addict but the family as well. Alcohol and drug interventions are not as daunting as they seem. The change that may be necessary starts with an intervention. If you find yourself waiting for your loved one to seek help, now may be the time to step in. Families’ unconscious enabling behavior may be an essential factor in your loved one’s addiction. Call today to learn more about the addiction intervention process.