How to stop enabling adult child: enable recovery instead

Enabling an adult child or a loved one struggling with addiction may probably the leading cause for the lack of addicts seeking timely help. Most enablers do not know that their behavior, actions or thoughts are enabling the person they want to help. I don’t believe any one person intentionally enables a loved one.

What is enabler

The Dictionary meaning of enabling is to “give(someone or something) the authority or means to do something”. In addiction, this occur when loved ones support the addict to continue using and subconsciously remove the need for the addict to seek help. This sometimes happens without the enablers even having the slightest idea.

How to stop being an enabler: Why you become an enabler

There are many reasons why people become enablers. For anyone to stop being an enabler, there may need to fully address the issue of why they are enabling. The first step would be to really be honest with yourself and the adult child who may an addict.

Codependency: This means excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a person, who requires support due to sickness or addiction. The situation in this case for most parents turns to enabling codependency, where the co dependent may manipulated by the addict. This may a difficult relationship to break that will require professional help to break. If you find that you are entangled in an enabling codependent relationship with the loved one you may need to consider counseling and also attending a group like the codependent anonymous.

Guilt may also a reason most people become enablers. Most parents hold themselves responsible for the addiction. In some cases, this may be true. Throwing money on the addict for redemption only make the problem worse. This will only fuel the addiction instead of helping it. This may be followed by controlling behavior trying to force the loved ones to change.

Understanding yourself: are you enabling

As you try to help an addicted person, step back and find out where you fall in the addiction and recovery journey. Find out if the attempt to help may helping or enabling the addiction. There are several signs that you are an enabler. Some signs include

Denial: There may so much social stigma in addiction most people will deny that their loved ones are addicts, especially when they are functional addicts.

Providing the substance of abuse: Family traditions and socializing may include alcohol or drugs for entertainment and serving an addict in a family setting may look like a safe environment for the addict.

This may one of the areas I was an enabler for a long time without consciously being aware of what I was doing. When we meet as family, I figured everyone else may drinking alcohol its was normal to serve a drink for my addicted brother, besides it was a safe environment. When we were apart, knowing that I would not question his story, he would request for a small amount of money for clear needs at home which I would provide. I unconsciously was funding his drinking habits.

Shifting blame: I watched this play out in my family in so many ways, some of them ridiculous and clear signs of the need for family counseling. We would blame the friends who were influencing him, the neighbors, anyone but him.

Keeping the Peace: This can be so easy to sneak in as the idea of confronting the user may be too acrimonious, its easy to sweep it under the rag.

These are just few signs, educate yourself on the enabling cycles and how this play out your relationship with your addicted loved one. If you need a starting point, this would be a good place to start.

Stop being enabler: How to Break the Cycle of Enabling

Once you find that you are enabler, the first step you must do before you can help the addicted person to break the enabling relationship. This is hard but its possible once you identify it and how it plays in your relationship.

Remember that the long term gain in recovery may not happen without a possible short term pain. If you have been covering for the addict when they miss work, break things or any other messes they create while high, stop doing it. Let them wake up to the mess and have them clean it.

I remember the shock on our loved one-the addict when we showed him the video of how he behaved when he was high. The messes he caused. This was a wake up call for him and it was also easy to have him clean up after himself as there was evidence he made the mess.

Take a lead in following through any plans you make with the addict while they are sober. Once they are high, they will break the agreement, you don’t have to. Hold them accountable and following through on the part and staying on plan will break the enabling dance that they are feeding on.

If you have any questions or any comment, feel free to leave them below.


Please follow and like us:


One Comment

  1. This is a great article. I have a sibling that is an addict and for years we were enabling him. We have decided to stop doing this but it is HARD and honestly some people don’t understand why are you not “helping” them not realizing that sometimes you are really just enabling not helping. This article is helpful and makes me feel better about the decisions I’ve made in regards to enabling him no matter how hard it is. It’s hard and you love them but you have to do what’s best and enabling them is not what’s best for them (no matter what others may say to you about it – they don’t know)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *