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What Does Enabling An Alcoholic Mean?



Alcoholism is a disease that can take over a person’s life. It can be challenging to watch someone you love struggle with alcoholism and even harder to know how to help them.

Enabling an alcoholic can seem like the right thing to do at the moment, but it only worsens the situation in the long run.

If you’re wondering what enabling an alcoholic means and how you can stop doing it, keep reading.

We’ll go over the definition of enabling, everyday behaviors that fall into this category, ways you can start taking care of yourself instead, and why drug rehab Los Angeles is the best solution to treat alcoholism.

What Is Enabling?

Enabling refers to the act of helping someone else to continue engaging in harmful behavior.

This can be done deliberately, out of a desire to help the other person, or it can be done unintentionally, out of a lack of understanding of the situation.

Enabling often allows the person with the harmful behavior to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. For example, if someone is struggling with alcoholism, enabling behavior might involve buying them alcohol, encouraging alcohol or drug use, or pretending not to notice when they drink excessively.

Ultimately, enabling harms the person engaging in the harmful behavior and those around them.

If you suspect that you are enabling someone, it is essential to seek professional help. An experienced counselor can assess the situation and help you develop a plan to prevent further harm.

Four Types of Enabling Behavior

There are mainly four types of enabling behaviors, which are as follows:


When questioned about their drinking or drug use habit, your loved one threatens you frequently. You might help them stay out of a fight.


Your loved ones can hold you responsible for their upbringing or condemn you for being absent when they need assistance.

If they do, you might be complicit in their addiction because you blame yourself.


A breakthrough is always just around the corner for your loved one. You worry that if they don’t have your help, they’ll lose all the advancement they’ve achieved.

Unfortunately, they frequently use their progress as a cover to keep your support.


Your friend or family member can be an innocent victim in this situation. They might use phrases such as, “If you lived my life, you’d be drinking, too,” or “I wouldn’t have begun doing drugs if it weren’t for…”

How Can You Tell If You’re Enabling A Loved One’s Addiction?

If your loved one is battling addiction, you may be tempted to try to help them in any way possible.

However, it’s essential to be aware that sometimes the best intentions can unintentionally lead to enabling behavior.

So how can you tell if you’re falling into the trap of enabling an addict?

Enabling can take many various forms, but you may be helping a loved one who is addicted if you:

● Ignore it or claim that it isn’t particularly offensive.

● While their addiction is still active, give them money or a place to stay.

● Minimize how serious their issue is.

● Fess up to others about what’s happening.

● Try to hide their alcohol abuse

● Save them from harm and safeguard them.

● Accept verbal, mental, emotional, or physical abuse because the abuser “didn’t mean it.”

How To Stop Enabling Others?

It might be challenging to quit enabling someone or creating healthy boundaries with people you care about.

You’ll need to reevaluate what it means to assist your loved one, which can entail acting in ways that irritate them.

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It would be best if you were to keep in mind that even though they may be upset with you, once they are sober, they will appreciate your genuine concern for their health.

Here are some suggestions for quitting enabling, and getting your loved one the assistance they require.

Don’t Make Excuses For Them

Avoid making excuses – you cannot explain the addicted person in your life, no matter how much you want to. Instead, it would help if you faced reality.

They are hungover rather than ill. They didn’t fail to pay their bills; instead, they bought drinks or drugs with the money.

Denying the issue will not solve it. You must accept the existence of a problem and acknowledge it. You can then help your loved one get the assistance they require.

Don’t Take Over Their Personal Responsibilities

You allow someone to choose drugs over their responsibilities when you pay some or all of their expenses, take care of their children, or clean up their dirty house.

You take away their sense of obligation, allowing them to continue abusing their addiction.

Yes, letting your loved one neglect their obligations is frightening when parts of their lives may be disintegrating. We are aware of that. However, we also understand that their life perhaps imploding will serve as the wake-up call they require.

Don’t Rescue Them From Legal Trouble And Financial Consequences

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It encourages their conduct when you bail out a loved one from jail or rush out in the dead of night to save them.

They learn that there are no repercussions for their behavior from this kind of facilitation.

Their impulsive behavior may be further fueled by this inaccurate and imbalanced viewpoint, which could lead to them becoming even more negligent and dangerous.

In addition, why should they consider their options and choose wisely if you would permanently save them?

Do Not Loan Or Give Them Money

Spending money won’t stop your loved one from taking drugs or alcohol. That is not how addiction operates.

But the addiction of a loved one may be financed by your money. Giving someone battling addiction money makes it simple to keep using drugs, undermines discipline, and minimizes the value of the field and hard work.

Therefore, despite how difficult it may be, you must decide against lending or giving money to a loved one battling addiction. Cut them off and gently nudge them in the direction of recovery.

Enabling vs. Helping

Despite their best intentions, friends, family members, and other loved ones often exacerbate the problem by supporting someone suffering from alcohol use disorder (such as by providing them with presents that would encourage their addiction).

You may be enabling someone with an alcohol problem if you ignore their conduct, offer them financial support, make excuses or cover for them, or take on their responsibilities.

Anything you do to shield the alcoholic or addict from the repercussions of their behavior may be allowing him to put off deciding to get help for their problem. Stop doing anything to help them; it’s in their best interest. Enabling is not helping.

When You Stop Enabling

What transpires afterward if you stop supporting someone with a substance use disorder?

The fear will frequently push a person to seek treatment when an enabling system is removed, but there are no guarantees. It might be quite challenging to accept this.

If they are suffering from any mental illness or battling substance use or alcohol use disorders – Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. You can get information about support groups, treatment facilities, and treatment centers in your area.

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