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Enabler | Clearbrook Treatment Centers

8 Excuses Family Members Use to Defend Their Addicted Loved Ones

You’ve probably heard the term enabler before and wondered if you were one. An enabler is characterized as someone who protects, covers up or makes excuses for the person who is dependent on drugs or alcohol. While this is normally done out of loyalty, concern or love; it prevents the addicted person from getting the help they need.

Instead of allowing them to become responsible for their actions, you take over and shield them. No one is questioning that your actions are done from a deep level of sincerity, but it is dangerous and needs to end. The only hope your addicted loved one has is for you to cease making everything better immediately.

If you think you might be an enabler, see if any of these actions are things you do.

1.     If I Keep the Peace, Everything Will be Okay

Do you find yourself attempting to avoid problems with the addict by doing whatever you can to keep the peace? Do you believe that by avoiding conflict, you will solve all the problems?

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

2.     This is Just a Phase

Do you tell yourself and others that your loved one is just going through a phase? You might even have convinced others and yourself that they will “grow” out of it if given the time.

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

3.     It’s not that Bad

Do you tend to minimize the situations that occur with the addict? Even though deep in your heart you feel the pain of what they are doing, you might still tell yourself and others that it isn’t as bad as it appears.

You may even have yourself convinced that the problems are going to get better with time.

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

4.     If I Lecture Them Again, They Might Change

Do you spend your time criticizing, lecturing or blaming the addict? Maybe you think that you can talk them out of their problems or show them the right way. You might have tried to guilt, shame or even bribe the addict to change.

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

5.     I’ll Make it Better by Taking Responsibility

Do you take responsibility for the addict? Have there been times when you’ve covered up for them to minimize any consequences they might feel?

It is common for enablers to want to be the hero and rescue the addict from negative situations. This happens when you bail them out of jail, give them money to avoid financial issues or take over an area of their lives that is theirs to fix.

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

6.     If I Financially Support Them, It Will be Okay

Do you still treat the adult addict like they are a child? Many enablers get satisfaction from taking care of their loved ones and feeling as if they are superior in some way. You financially support or provide their needs so you can hang something over their heads.

This tactic is a method to control the addict. It’s done as a way to manipulate them into changing. Many enablers believe that by “saving” them from financial hardships, the addict will want to change and please the person supporting them.

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

7.     If I Give Them Another Chance, Things will Change

Do you continue to give the addict another chance every time they do something to hurt you? By doing this, you neglect your own feelings of hurt and sadness and make the addict more important than yourself.

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

8.     Maybe if I Join in With Them, They Will Want to Do Something Different

Have you ever engaged in dangerous behaviors with the addict even though you knew they had a problem? Many people will believe that by joining the addict it will help them to change or want to do something different.

It’s possible that you are also an addict and by hanging around them, you don’t feel so bad about yourself. Many enablers can also be addicts themselves.

If you engage in these behaviors, chances are you are an enabler.

Some Other Signs You Might be an Enabler

Here are some other common things you might do that show you have the signs of being an enabler.

  • Ignore negative behaviors from the addict like stealing and lying.
  • Avoid the addict out of fear.
  • Put the addict’s needs ahead of your own.
  • Feel resentful that the addict doesn’t care about you.
  • Spend time physically and emotionally exhausted or worn down.
  • Suffer from uncontrollable rage or lack of patience with the addict.
  • Forget who you are and what makes you happy.
  • Back down when given the ultimatum to give them what they want or potentially lose them.
  • Do whatever you can to protect your loved one from any pain or discomfort.
  • Think that you have to endure through this time.
  • Continue to put off your needs and wants while you wait for them to change.
  • Struggle to express how you feel in a healthy way.

What They Really Need

We agree that it is difficult to watch someone you love struggle and suffer. If they aren’t allowed to feel the consequences of their actions, they have no reason to change. If you pay their bills, drive them where they want to go, offer food and shelter and provide all of their needs, you are adding to the problem.

Eventually, you are going to run out money, your health is going to suffer and you’ll find yourself in a bad situation. They aren’t going to care about you or your needs when that happens.

The addict needs to reach their bottom. By continuing to “care” for them, you aren’t allowing that to happen. You continue to cushion every fall so they don’t hurt. They have no reason to change.

What they need is to feel the darkness and despair of having no one to help them. They need to believe there is no other hope but to get sober. That’s when real change occurs. When your loved one realizes they have to get better, you’ll hear a genuine cry to get help.

Help for You

If you saw yourself in the assessment above, it is time for you to seek help as well. Your life no longer has to be consumed by the addict. You are important and deserve to live a happy, carefree existence as well.

Educate yourself about the power of addiction and seek out support for the families of addicts. There are inpatient centers that can aid you, outpatient treatment groups that will welcome you and some helpful local Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings to attend. By creating a healthy life for yourself, you give the addict a fighting chance to get better as well.

Contact Clearbrook Today

Are you or a loved one currently struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction? If so, we can provide you help.

For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been treating substance use disorders through utilizing evidence-based treatment options. By providing you or your loved one with the highest quality of addiction treatment resources, you will have the opportunity to live a life free from the chains of addiction.

If you are a family member suffering with the consequences of your loved one’s addiction, there is help for you too. Call us today to find out about our Family Educational Program.

Are you tired of being a hostage to your chemical dependency? If so, contact our Admissions Specialists today. Recovery is possible…and it starts here!




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