How to Avoid Enabling your Loved One

Addiction is complex and makes an impact on every aspect of our lives. Addiction is a chronic brain disease and can happen to anyone. When our loved ones suffer from addiction, we do everything we can to help them, but can unknowingly be enabling their addictive behavior.

Anxiety and Fear Can Make You an Enabler

When your loved one has a drug and alcohol addiction, you could become full of anxiety and fear. Worrying about your loved one’s safety, health, and not understanding addiction can make you an enabler when all you want to do is help. Although you have good intentions, your emotions and feelings can add to your loved one’s self-destruction. The constant worrying can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health. The anxiety and fear can disrupt your normal daily routines and make you less productive at work or school. When you enable your loved one, you unintentionally encourage their addictive behavior.

The Difference Between Enabling and Being Supportive

If your loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol, you need to avoid enabling his or her dangerous behavior. There is a difference between enabling and being supportive. To avoid enabling, you need to set boundaries to protect yourself. Although this can be hard to do, you need to take care of yourself first. When you stand firm in your boundaries, your addicted loved one will know what is and is not acceptable, but you have to follow through with consequences.

Remind yourself that your loved one’s addiction is not your fault and you are powerless over their addiction. Accept that you cannot change his or her behavior. It is entirely up to your loved one to respect your boundaries, go to detox and treatment, and work on his or her sobriety.

Anxiety and fear can unknowingly contribute to your enabling. When your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can go through a range of emotions. The anxiety and fear can be overwhelming. When levels of anxiety and fear are this intense, you could feel emotionally drained. Enabling your loved one could reduce levels of anxiety and fear, but you are contributing to his or her destructive behavior.

Ways to Avoid Enabling

To avoid becoming an enabler, learn more about addiction. Understand that addiction changes the way the brain functions. When someone develops an addiction, drugs and alcohol control his or her brain, and the brain needs more of the substances to function. Learning about addiction will help you understand your loved one’s behavior.

When a person is addicted, he or she cannot “just stop using” without going through uncomfortable, sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms.

Ways to Help

Stay Supportive

Addiction isolates people from loved ones, drains savings, causes disruptive sleep patterns, leads to job loss, and takes priority over all responsibilities. Addiction lowers self-esteem, makes people feel ashamed, and destroys relationships. Encourage your loved one to get help, offer to go to therapy with them, and praise them for their sobriety throughout recovery.

Addiction breaks the spirit of those who suffer from it, as well as their family and friends. Broken relationships need time to heal. Be patient throughout the healing process. Holistic treatment encompasses healing for the mind, body, and spirit.

Addiction clouds our minds with toxic substances and we lose our sense of self. Treatment that helps heal our minds allows us to become more mindful of ourselves and others with deep breathing techniques and meditation. Our physical and mental health is restored as we focus on keeping ourselves healthy through exercise, good nutrition, and outdoor activities. Our once-broken spirit is renewed as we feel a sense of purpose in our meaningful lives. Stay supportive throughout your loved one’s recovery, as they will face many challenges on a daily basis.  

Treatment for Addiction

Asking for help can be difficult when we are in the throes of addiction. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Often, people who suffer from addiction also live with an underlying mental health condition. Do not let the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction stop you from getting help. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health condition and a substance use disorder or addiction, get help now. Mental health and substance use disorders or addiction is treatable and recovery is possible.

If you are seeking help for mental health and addiction, both conditions must be treated simultaneously as a dual diagnosis for the best results in recovery. Treatment is tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Make the life-saving decision to get help today. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable and recovery is possible.

“If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.



Daylight Recovery Services takes a holistic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment to address the physical, psychological, and spiritual facets of addiction and recovery. We ensure clients emerge from our facility with the proper tools and confidence in their ability to lead a healthy, enjoyable life. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of the bondage of addiction, contact one of our recovery experts today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.