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You may think you are helping someone suffering from an addiction by covering up for them, paying their bills, or even just waking them for work when they are hung-over. You may think you are just helping, when in fact you are enabling an addict to continue using drugs or drinking. When you are enabling an addict, you are doing them more harm than good. You are allowing them to continue drinking by shielding them from the negative consequences of their addiction. If an addict or alcoholic does not experience any negative repercussions as a result of using or drinking, they will have no reason to change or get treatment. The term “love them to death” is an apt description of someone enabling an addict. Enabling an addict could allow them to continue to use and drink until they die.

Most addicts and alcoholics do not have the resources to continue their using or drinking without outside help. Usually at least one person is enabling an addict to continue drinking and using. So what is the difference between enabling an addict and helping one?  Simply put, when you help an addict or alcoholic, you are doing something for them that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling an addict is doing something for them that they could and should be doing themselves.

Enabling an addict can include: Calling in sick for an addict because they were too hung over or high to go to work or school; making excuses for an addict’s drinking or behavior; lying for an addict, bailing them out of jail, or paying their legal fees; paying an addict’s bills or loaning them money; giving them several “second chances” to change their behavior.

The problem with enabling an addict is that an addict will never have any reason to change if they are being enabled. They don’t have any responsibility for their actions and don’t experience any consequences for their behavior. Enabling an addict gives them the idea that they will always have you to fall back on when times get tough. Whatever messes they find themselves in, they know they will be bailed out.

Giving an addict money, whether directly or indirectly, is another way of enabling an addict. Many people give an addict or alcoholic money directly, expecting them to use it on rent or food, and then they are surprised when the addict spends it on drugs or alcohol. Examples of enabling an addict by indirectly giving them money include not hiding your purse or wallet when the addict has stolen from you the past or paying for their living expenses. If you are enabling an addict by supplying unlimited meals, electricity, a place to sleep, and transportation, you shouldn’t be surprised that they quit their jobs and drink/use drugs all day.

Most addicts who make a decision to change toward a path of recovery reached a point when they realized that their life was unmanageable or intolerable – when they literally could not continue in the way they had been and live. Enabling an addict allows them to have a life that is not only tolerable but may be pretty enjoyable. This is why enabling an addict actually prevents them from getting better. Stop enabling the addict in your life and get them the help they need.

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