In Articles, Family Resources

Many people can drink without a problem, but there are plenty of people who go from social drinking to alcoholism. If your loved one is exhibiting signs of a drinking problem, you may want to help, but you may be part of the issue and not realize it.

What Is Enabling?

When it comes to addiction, enabling is behavior that perpetuates or even encourages a loved one’s addiction by preventing them from experiencing the full consequences of their actions. Many people are unaware that they are enabling their loved ones; the result is often the development of an unhealthy codependent relationship. Enabling is harmful for both the enabler and the addict and is different from being supportive or helpful. Because enabling can be difficult to distinguish, sometimes the only way to stop enabling is to attend a program for families of addicts that will teach about enabling and how to avoid it.

Signs of Enabling an Alcoholic

There is a fine line between being supportive and enabling a loved one’s drinking, and it can be hard to know when you have crossed this line. Unfortunately, until you are able to recognize how you are enabling an alcoholic, your loved one’s drinking may only get worse. To help, our residential alcohol treatment center is sharing some common enabling behaviors for alcoholics that you should avoid.

Ignoring the Problem

Like many alcoholics themselves, some loved ones of alcoholics are in denial about their loved one’s drinking problems. Even with numerous red flags, they may neglect to accept that their loved one’s drinking habits go beyond a healthy amount. If you continue to ignore your loved one’s problem, they will likely do the same and never get help.

Making Excuses

An enabler in alcoholism will often make excuses for their loved one’s drinking habits. They may say that their loved one had a rough day or is going through a tough time instead of facing the reality. This continued behavior just shows the alcoholic that their behavior is okay.

Lying About Their Loved One’s Drinking Habits

Along with making excuses, many loved ones will take this one step further and start to lie about their loved one’s drinking. They may cover up the severity of the drinking when it involves others or even lie on the alcoholic’s behalf. Calling in sick for your loved one or telling someone that your loved one couldn’t make it because they are busy when they are really drunk or hungover are both good examples. Lies like this are helping your alcoholic loved one avoid the negative consequences of their behavior.

Buying Them Alcohol

While this may seem obvious, many people who are enabling an alcoholic will continue to buy their loved one alcohol even if they believe there is a drinking problem. They may feel guilty or be in denial, but either way, this type of behavior isn’t helping. Buying them alcohol to fuel their drinking problem tells them that their drinking is okay.

Fixing the Alcoholic’s Mistakes

Enabling alcoholic behavior often involves fixing or minimizing the alcoholic’s mistakes. Some examples include helping them financially because they lost their job from drinking or driving them around because they got a DUI. If you are frequently cleaning up for a loved one’s messes, they may never realize the extent of their problem and decide it is time to get alcohol abuse treatment.

Whether you find yourself enabling an alcoholic spouse, child, or friend, you need to stop sooner rather than later if you want to help them quit. At Clearbrook, we can help both you and your loved ones move past this substance abuse problem and start planning for the future. To get more information about how we may be able to help, call us today at 570-536-9621.

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