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Enabling & Addiction

Even when intentions are good, enabling perpetuates addiction.

1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:

2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old

graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.
What is enabling?

Enabling—the act of making excuses, shielding or taking responsibility for another’s harmful actions—is a common reaction to addiction. The goal of enabling is usually to protect addicts from the consequences of their actions.

While often done out of love or fear for the addict, enabling usually perpetuates addiction by allowing the addict to deny their problem and its consequences. Most addicts have a network of enablers who unwittingly allow addictive behavior to continue.

Who enables addiction?

Enablers are often family members, spouses, close friends, or in a relationship with the addict. Generally well-meaning, enablers may lack the ability to draw boundaries due to how close they are to the addict.

What does enabling addiction look like?

Enabling behaviors include the following:

  • Justifying: agreeing with the addict’s rationalizations, saying it's “just a phase”
  • Minimizing: claiming the addict’s behavior “isn’t so bad”
  • Faulty reasoning: believing the addict’s promises, expecting the addict to be rational
  • Avoiding: escaping stress through work, food, etc.; keeping the peace
  • Providing for the addict's needs: giving the addict money, clothing, housing, and food
  • Rescuing: paying bills, making car payments, paying bail, paying lawyers fees
  • Enduring: keeping feelings inside, being paralyzed by fear
  • Covering up: making excuses for the addict’s behavior, writing late notices, lying

Treatment for enabling addiction.

Enablers cannot help addicts until they seek help for their own behavior. Fortunately, various support groups, literature and self-help groups exist to help enablers find better ways to deal with loved ones’ addictions.