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What is an Enabler?

An enabler is a loved one who intentionally or unintentionally assists an addict in continuing their drug or alcohol use by engaging in behaviors that they mistakenly think will help the person; in reality, an enabler only serves to hurt a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Likewise, an even sadder fact is that many addicts and alcoholics would not be able to continue in their addiction if they were not being assisted by individuals who are enablers. When an enabler provides housing for a loved one who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction problem, this appears to be a noble gesture; conversely, if the addict was allowed to become homeless as the result of the natural consequences of their choice to continue abusing drugs or alcohol, they may finally become uncomfortable enough to reach out for the professional help that they so desperately need.

The enabler is a person who unknowingly assists an addict though their use of rescuing behaviors; thus, the person with the addiction is "saved" from the natural consequences of their own actions. A classic example of enabling is when a drug-dependent teenager comes home long after their designated curfew, and loved ones within their family make excuses for their unacceptable behavior; thus, teaching the adolescent that there will be no negative repercussions when they choose to violate household rules by staying out drinking . The classic enabler allows an addict or alcoholic to continue in the drinking or drugging ways, while having the security of knowing that someone will always be available to rescue him from their mistakes.

Enablers will often preach and lecture, which are often only discounted by the loved one who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction; additionally, a classic enabling behavior is trying to analyze the underlying causes of the love one's substance abuse. Looking into all of the causes of a substance abuse problem should be left to the professionals at a quality drug rehab center.

Enabling Reduces The Natural Consequences Of Addiction

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Call 1-888-794-0381 (or email) to speak with an addiction treatment specialist who can help you find the right treatment center that best fits your needs.

Not all rehab programs are the same and it is important to find the right program that will provide effective results and lasting recovery.

Because money is the lifeblood of any type of a drug or alcohol addiction, any form of monetary support can only serve to prolong the addict's consequences; while paying for food or an automobile repair may appear to be loving gestures, when addiction is present, this act will only make it easier for the person to continue to abuse drugs or alcohol. Enablers will often lock up their wallets and other valuables, stop inviting company over for fear that the loved one who is an addict will embarrass them, or plan their day around the person with the substance abuse problem; thus, the family is simply accommodating the addiction, through making these special types of arrangements.

Many enablers will even indirectly begin to provide drugs or alcohol for the addict, through the act of giving them cash; other enablers may assist the person in criminal activities by lying for them, so that the addict will not get into trouble with the law. Most quality drug and alcohol rehab programs place an extreme emphasis on reversing the dysfunctional role of the enabler, as these types of individuals can quickly undo all of the professional guidance that has been provided to the addict while they are in treatment.

When enablers come to a place where begin to recognize the power that they hold, the loved ones who have taken on this dysfunctional role can band together to finally put an end to substance abuse in the family; thus, putting a screeching halt to the dysfunctional behaviors that have only served to prolong their loved ones addiction. It is only at this point that the addict will begin to find it much harder to maintain their substance abuse problem; additionally, the enablers in the family can finally begin the healthy process of focusing on their own lives.

Because a person cannot change a behavior that they are not consciously aware of, taking a moment to contemplate the following questions can help you to determine if you are an enabler to a loved one with a substance abuse problem:

  • Have you called in to school or work for them because they could not get out of bed due to late night partying?
  • Have you made excuses for the addict's dysfunctional behavior when you were fully aware that it was related to their being under the influence of drugs and alcohol?
  • Have you caught yourself telling lies or making excuses to cover up for your loved one that is struggling with a substance abuse problem?
  • Have you ever gotten a loved one with a substance abuse problem out of a jam, by bailing them out of jail or paying an attorney so that they could weasel their way out of drug-related charges?
  • Have you ever accepted any or part of the blame for an addict's drug or alcohol related behavior?
  • Have you been avoiding confronting the addict about their substance abuse, because you are fearful of how they may respond?
  • Have you ever paid for the addict's cell phone, rent, car note, or insurance, because they have spent their bill money on drugs?
  • Have you ever made "loans" to the addict, while knowing deep down that you were inadvertently just funding their drug use?
  • Have you ever used drugs or started drinking right along with the addict in the hopes that it would strengthen your relationship with them?
  • Do you continuously give the addict chances, while knowing that you are not going to stick to your bottom line in any case?
  • Do you constantly threaten to leave if the addict does not stop abusing drugs or alcohol, but then continue to stay after they have done just that?
  • Did you ever finish some of the work that an addict was unable to complete himself because of being drunk or high?
  • If you have answered yes to any of the above listed questions, this presents a great opportunity to look at these enabling behaviors that can only serve to prolong your loved one's drug or alcohol addiction problem.

Need help finding treatment?

Choosing the correct treatment program for yourself or a family member can be one of the the most important decisions you ever make. With so many choices for treatment, and so many variables to consider, getting help from a knowledgeable addiction specialist who understands what types of treatment will work best is invaluable.

Our addiction specialists are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have about treatment. All calls and services are completely free of charge and completely confidential. Start your recovery today!


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