Enabling: When Is Helping Hurting?

Many times when family and friends try to “help” alcoholics or addicts, they are actually making it easier for them to continue in the progression of the disease.

This baffling phenomenon is called “enabling” which takes many forms, all of which have the same effect-allowing the alcoholic to avoid the consequences of his/her actions. This in turn allows the alcoholic or addict to continue merrily along his/her drinking or using ways, secure in the knowledge that no matter how much he or she screws up, somebody will always be there to rescue him/her from his or her mistakes.

What is the difference between “helping” and “enabling”? There are many opinions and viewpoints on this, but here is a simple description: Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling is doing for someone things that they could, and should, be doing themselves.

Simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which the alcoholic or addict can comfortably continue his/her unacceptable behavior.

Signs You Might Be An Enabler

The following are some simple questions to ask yourself to determine if you are being an enabler:

  1. Have you ever “called in sick” for the alcoholic or addict, lying about his or her symptoms?
  2. Have you accepted part of the blame for his/her drinking or behavior?
  3. Have you avoided talking about his or her drinking or using out of fear of the response?
  4. Have you bailed him or her out of jail or paid for legal fees?
  5. Have you paid bills that he or she was supposed to have paid?
  6. Have you loaned him or her money?
  7. Have you tried drinking or using with him/her in hopes of strengthening the relationship?
  8. Have you given him or her “one more chance” and then another and another?
  9. Have you threatened to leave and did not?
  10. Have you finished a job or project that the alcoholic/addict failed to complete?

If you answered 3 or more of these questions with “yes,” you have been enabling, not helping, the alcoholic/addict.

Tranquil Shores knows that substance abuse is a family disease. We understand the enabler and have the resources to counsel you and your loved one as you move from enabler to helper. Let Tranquil Shores help you help him or her break the cycle of enabling and set a path for the road to recovery. Get help today and Reclaim Your Life!