How Families Can Stop Enabling an Addicted Loved One

How Families Can Stop Enabling an Addicted Loved One

Families are often caught in the crossfire when addiction takes center stage. A loved one experiencing addiction will experience highs and lows, but the most challenging aspect for family members is to learn how to stop enabling improper behavior. Learn how to stop the behavior and support the loved one getting on the same page with the family and seek help.



Enabling is anything which directly or indirectly helps the person with addiction use drugs or alcohol. Excuses may become the norm for the individual with addiction as to why the behavior cannot be stopped. Rationalization and victimization may happen frequently, rather than seeing the person in control of behaviors and actions affecting self and others. It is more useful to find other means of supporting and empowering the individual to receive help for the addiction. Enabling supports continuation of the same behavior.


Signs of Enabling

When a person experiences addiction, that becomes the main focus of daily life. Mothers, fathers, cousins and friends may work behind the scenes to keep the family together and stop addiction from causing further damage.. Promises are made and broken but the classic signs of enabling behavior may be present for even the most diligent family members who seek to make the best out of a difficult situation:

  • Avoid doing things away from home to keep an eye on person with addiction
  • Fall for same lies continuously
  • Fantasize about something bad happening then feel guilty for terrible thoughts
  • Feel like shouldering the weight of the world
  • Feel tired and drained most of the time
  • Difficulty sleeping for worries about loved one with addiction
  • Suffer financially
  • Take on responsibilities for person with addiction


Make it Stop

A family who sticks to boundaries with a person who has addiction is more likely to have success in letting go of enabling behavior. Addiction will not stop unless the person with the problem wants to stop and takes appropriate steps to do so. When the structure begins to crumble of enabling behavior, empowerment can begin but first to dismantle the old way:

  • Make sure every family member is on board
  • Everyone must be helping each other not enabling the person with addiction
  • Set rules and boundaries to deal with the addict
  • Get on the same page at all times
  • First person in family to break rules may shatter progress


Take Ownership

Each and every family member must express what needs to be done to support the person with addiction. Identify behaviors and how those help the person with addiction. Once all the cards are on the table, the hand can be fully dealt. Set up rules for appropriate interaction with the individual who has addiction. The more family and friends are involved for the boundaries and desired outcome, the better. Realizing it is in the best interest of everyone, the person with addiction included, will help make things easier.


Seeking help for a loved one with addiction starts with the right support services. The Villa can help provide resources and information to locate intervention specialists, therapists or other support services for addiction. Call us to find out how to get started.