man in counseling session discussing enablers Drug and alcohol addictions are difficult to overcome without the help and support of your friends and family, but they can be impossible to manage when you have an enabler in your life. Enablers can be difficult to identify because they don’t often understand their behavior or realize how detrimental it is to your sobriety. When you’re in alcohol or drug rehab treatment, your sobriety may depend on you being able to avoid the enablers in your life and to do that you must first be able to identify them.

Who and What is an Enabler?

In the world of addiction, enablers are people who remove the natural consequences that you would normally suffer in response to your choices and behaviors. Essentially, therefore, an enabler permits you to continue being an addict. Because you don’t get any resistance to your bad behavior or choices, there’s no reason for you to make a change. Enablers can be anyone in your life, including:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Friends
  • Children
  • A partner or spouse
  • Other relatives

What Enabling Looks Like

Enabling comes in many different forms, and an enabler doesn’t actually have to buy you drugs or alcohol to permit your behavior. Anytime someone takes on responsibility on your behalf instead of letting you face consequences, it’s an act of enabling, which can include:

Giving you money: It doesn’t matter if it’s to cover bills or to buy drugs. If you need money because you missed work, got fired, or spent a paycheck on drugs instead of rent, then you should be forced to suffer the consequences. So, if somebody gives you money to get you out of that jam, it’s a positive reinforcement to your bad choice, and that allows you to continue making the same bad decisions.

Lying to others on your behalf: This can include lying to friends, family, employers, or anyone else to help you cover up the signs of your addiction. Similarly, it’s also enabling if somebody is always making excuses to explain your actions or decisions.

Bailing you out of jail: If you do something illegal, the natural consequence of that is that you should go to jail. So if someone interferes with that by bailing you out, it’s enabling.

Staying Away From Enablers

Avoiding enablers can be extremely difficult because enablers are most often the people closest to you. However, if you’re in drug or alcohol recovery or trying to get clean, it’s vital that you avoid that person or change your habits until you have your addiction under control. Just like you became addicted to drugs or alcohol, so too do enablers become hooked on enabling, meaning they need help to stop just as much as you do.

If the enabler in your life is a friend, you might be better off cutting ties with that person for a while, no matter how difficult it is. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy, especially when the enabler is your own mother, father, son, daughter, or partner. When you can’t cut an enabler out of your life, you must take other steps, including:

  • Setting and enforcing boundaries with that person
  • Limiting time spent with that person
  • Having only supervised visits
  • Having the strength to change your behavior, and taking responsibility for not allowing the enabling
  • Encouraging that person to seek help for the enabling

Enablers are often close friends and family, and this makes them difficult to identify, avoid, and say no to. Moreover, enablers often think they are helping, and don’t realize that their behavior is so dangerous to your sobriety.

If you think you have an enabler in your life, take steps today to start setting boundaries, and make sure you’re getting the treatment you need to stick with your recovery. Call 866-349-1770 for more information.