Enabling drug or alcohol use involves helping another person avoid the natural consequences of their negative behaviors.
Enablers inadvertently support their partners destructive behavior by helping the negative behaviors to continue.
This can create a crumbling, unhealthy relationship. There’s an old saying about enablers “loving” someone to death.
Essentially, this means that the enabler is making excuses, fixing or repairing the path of destruction and active alcoholic or drug user leaves behind them. They think that is showing love and concern. the reality is there are certain facts about addiction they don’t quite understand.
If there is any doubt about the seriousness of your loved ones use there are signs of drug addiction and alcoholism to look for.
Here Are Some Signs That You May Be Your Partner’s Enabler:
1. You Fix Their Mistakes
A person who is an addict, gambler, or involved in other negative situations and behaviors often gets support from their partner. In fact, this is an ideal situation for an addict. They consciously or unconsciously will seek out and get into a relationship with an enabler or co-dependent to facilitate their negative behaviors. If their messes are being cleaned up behind them, that leaves them unaccountable and able to perpetuate their addiction. Fixing your partner’s mistakes is a key sign that you’re enabling them.
- Do you clean up their messes and make up excuses for them? Do you help them with every little task? If your mindset is ‘I’ll just do it myself because it’s less trouble’ than talking to them and holding them accountable, you may be a bit of trouble.
- Enablers will often give money to an addict or cover up their issues. They may also help them with work or lie for them. Enablers go out of their way to fix their partner’s issues and take over the responsibility. If you are giving an addict or alcoholic money you have just financed their next high.
- Enablers become a buffer. An enabler becomes a buffer, shielding the user from consequences. They bail them out of jail, lie to employers, forgive outrageous behavior. In a word they make it easy for an addict to continue to use without suffering all his consequences.
2. You Do Everything To Avoid Conflict.
Enablers fear conflict and arguments, so they do their best to avoid them. They are actually avoiding the consequences of them being assertive and sticking up for themselves. Think of an addict as a 3 year old. If you don’t do what they want or they don’t get their way a tantrum will occur. They will just wear you out
- Do you try to stop conflict by ignoring issues? Are you like an ostrich hiding your head in the sand waiting for the drama to pass? Are you in denial or minimizing the problems?
- Do you stop arguments and walk away? Are you the perpetual peace keeper not wanting to rock the boat or poke the bear with a stick? The breakdown in communication gets worse over time, just like drug use.
- Are you afraid that arguments will set them off and ‘make’ them use? The reality is you didn’t cause their addiction and you can’t control it. If they say ‘you make me’, it is simply emotional manipulation and black mail. They make themselves use, not you.
3. You Give Them An Endless Number Of Chances.
Although enablers frequently realize they shouldn’t do it, they still offer an endless number of chances to their partners. There is an old cartoon where a character draws a line in the sand and dares the other guy to step over it; he does. The first guy then draws another line in the sand and makes the same statement, the other steps over it. This goes on and on as they move on down the road with lots of lines being drawn and stepped over. Sound familiar?
- Do you keep giving chances despite them not complying? This is like the old saying of a person that keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting different results – it just isn’t going to happen.
- But – it’ll be different this time. Come on, get real. Acceptt the fact that words at this point mean very little. Look for changes in behavior. Based on their behavior, not words, does giving them another chance work?
- Be prepared to hold the line. By giving them another chance and letting them get away with non-compliance, what you are really teaching them is that your word means nothing. If you say ‘next time I won’t bail you out – don’t. Stick to your guns (and prepare for a tantrum).
4. You Minimize The Situation - But It IS A Big Deal
In many cases, enablers try to minimize the situation and make it seem less significant. This makes it easier for them to not take action. If it’s not a big deal, why put yourself out? Well, it IS a big deal.
- Do you play down what is really happening with your partner? Has your sense of perspective and proportion been twisted? Get some feedback from someone outside the situation who can see things objectively.
- Are you getting sneaky? Do you hide what is happening from your family and friends? Are you engaging in a cover up by telling everyone everything is ‘just fine’?.
5. You Enjoy Taking Care Of Your Partner.
Partnership is wonderful. They should be taking care of their stuff; you should be taking care of your stuff. You should both be taking care of partnership stuff. Even though you know that their negative behavior is dangerous and risky, you find joy in being able to take care of them. You like that they need you and depend on you. Addiction knocks everything out of balance. Am enabler finds them selves taking over all 3 role and trying to madly juggle everything. It works for a while, then everything crashes.
- Enablers often treat their partners as if they are children. They may deserve it, but wait a minute, this is supposed to be an adult relationship. is like the old saying of a person that keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting different results – it just isn’t going to happen.
- Do you enjoy being a martyr? Some people only get value for themselves by taking care of others or trying to change them. Women often ask ‘why am I attracted to bad boys?’ The answer may be because it is a big challenge.
Video - Difference Between Helping and Enabling
Enabling is a harmful technique that hurts relationships. Are you so busy protecting your partner that you allow them to continue an addiction or other issue? Take steps today to get help and family support for yourself as well as for your partner, before it’s too late!
We would love to have you share your comments with us and our readers.
Please leave a comment.
The form is way down at the end of this post.
Pinterest - Pin it
Some Really Good Resources
- Impact of Substance Abuse on Families (NCBI) – When a family member abuses substances, the effect on the family may differ according to family structure.
- Addiction Is A Family Disease (NCADD) Addiction is a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point. Living with addiction can put family members under unusual stress.
- Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction (Drugabuse.gov) – In my opinion this is the best short read on addiction. I have used the content for many therapy groups and lectures…check it out.