Support vs. Enabling

So, you have a family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol?

Well, guess what – you are not the only one.

Several people can say they have family members who are bound by the wrath of drugs and alcohol. You find yourself wanting to help them – you want them to get better. But, the problem is that there is a fine line between supporting someone and enabling them.

To support someone in recovery means to back them up. You are proud of them and encourage them to go, reminding them why they should go, taking them if needed, etc.

To enable someone in recovery means to provide what might appear as support but something that could enable them to get the drugs or alcohol. So, it might be something like giving them money.

The idea is to actively help them by offering advice, such as new studies on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol but not aid them in weakness.

For example, if they say they need money for their rehab program, give the money directly to the program rather than them to ensure you aren’t enabling them but rather supporting them.

Support mostly consists of actively listening – do they need advice? Just a shoulder to cry on?

active, activity, adventure

It can be easy to enable someone because we don’t want to tell them “no” or we might feel as though we are helping them, but in all reality, you might be helping them hurt themselves even more.

Let them know you are there to support and encourage them, but you will not take part in giving them money, taking them to meet up with inappropriate people, give them a place to hang out and sleep if they are on drugs or drinking.

Support rather than enabling an addict is almost like raising a kid. You have to be stern, set rules and that is where it ends.

Just another example to help you decipher between the two:

You might offer to allow them to stay in your home while you are gone during the day, but you are giving them access to alcohol (maybe), money or valuable items, privacy, etc. Instead, offer to take them to work with you so they can search the Internet for jobs.

Or, offer to take them to the library or somewhere productive.

Don’t give into their every request, but rather suggest an option where they have to stay clean and on track.


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