Do you avoid potential problems by trying to keep the peace? Do you do whatever you can to avoid conflict?
Are you in denial about your loved one being addicted?
Do you think his or her drug or alcohol use is just a phase and isn’t anything to be concerned about?
Do you minimize the situation?
Do you think the problem will get better later?
Do you try to negotiate, blame, or criticize, the addicted person?
Do you take over the responsibilities of the addicted person?
Do you cover for and pick up his or her slack to minimize the negative consequences?
Do you repeatedly come to the rescue — bailing him or her out of jail, out of financial problems or other tight spots?
Do you try to protect your addicted loved one from pain?
Do you think your loved one should always be happy?
Do you still financially support him or her, even though he or she is an adult?
Are you good at just enduring?
Do you often think, this too shall pass?
Do you give him/her one more chance ... and then another ... and just one more?
Do you join him/her in the dangerous behavior, even when you know he or she has a problem?
If you notice these behaviors in yourself or a loved one, then know that they may enable addiction.
How to Break the Cycle of Enabling
While enabling can be a serious problem for everyone involved with addiction, it is completely possible to break the enabling cycle so the addict can heal in productive, meaningful ways. Darlene Lancer gives the following suggestions to help someone stop enabling:
Difficulty expressing emotions – Enablers are often unsure how to express their feelings, especially if there are negative repercussions for doing so.
Prioritizing the addict’s needs before her own – While it is natural to want to help loved ones, enabling takes helping a step too far, where the addict has her needs taken care of while the enabler neglects her own.
Acting out of fear – Since addiction can cause frightening events, the enabler will do whatever it takes to avoid such situations.
Lying to others to cover the addict’s behavior – An enabler will lie to keep the peace and to present a controlled, calm exterior.
Blaming people or situations other than the addict – To protect the addict from the consequences of drug abuse, the enabler might accuse other people of causing drug abuse.
Resenting the addict – The result of the above behaviors is that the enabler will likely feel angry and hurt. She may act on these feelings byresentingthe addict all while continuing to enable the addiction.