Addiction does not occur in a vacuum; addiction occurs in a complex web of relationships. Oftentimes the loved ones of people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol can unwittingly enable their loved one’s addiction. This can occur anytime that a person’s actions prevent someone from having to confront the natural consequences of their addiction.
You enable someone anytime your care for them keeps them from having to care for themselves or insulates them from the natural consequences of their addiction. This is especially common for people who live with an addicted person and end up taking care of them in ways that they should be caring for themselves.
Enabling can be hard to recognize because not all care and compassion is bad; you have to ask whether your helping is really hurting the person you care for and keeping them from confronting their addiction. If you recognize that you are an enabler, you should consider seeking professional help to identify and correct the enabling behavior.
Serenity House offers family services for those in our residential treatment and outpatient treatment programs. We help families recognize patterns of enabling and facilitate the growth of healthier relationships that support sobriety and personal responsibility.