Enablers Delay Recovery of Drug Addicts

Enablers Delay Recovery of Drug Addicts

The power of addiction is deep-seated. It is so strong, that it may cause an otherwise, sweet and innocent individual to become a completely different person. It can push someone to prostitute themselves for drugs. Some struggling to overcome addiction will steal money from family or friends in order to get their next fix. Many will take advantage of those they care about because the urge to use is so intense.

An enabler is someone who offers support or resources to an addict. It could be something as simple as providing the addict with housing or transportation because he is spending all his money on drugs. Or, maybe the addict is prostituting herself or stealing in return for drugs, and the enabler supplies financial support because he doesn’t want to see his loved one end up in jail. Whatever the case may be, these behaviors are very dangerous to the health of the addict.

Enablers aren’t always family members. They can be neighbors, friends, co-workers, or even teachers. If the enabler truly understood the harm they were inflicting, they wouldn’t continue to provide support. They are usually people that truly care for the person suffering with addiction. Most have good intentions and want to help—or at minimum, don’t want to cause a scene.

They believe that they are actually helping those they care about by preventing ‘worse case scenarios.’ Enablers often operate under the mentality that if they don’t help those who are afflicted, they will get resources from somewhere else anyway. However, the truth is, most addicts would not be able to continue in their addictions without the support of enablers.

Enablers may also fear rejection from their loved ones if they do not yield support. Thomas Kosten, MD, founder of the division of substance abuse at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston says that enablers should not feel guilty for saying no. He affirms that tough love is actually the best way to help.

Just like everyone else in life, addicts need to know that there are consequences for their actions. When we stop enabling, we allow them to face the repercussions of their bad choices. Whether that is the loss of a job, being stripped of material possessions, going to jail, or destroying a relationship with someone they love, hitting rock-bottom may be the only catalyst compelling addicts to wake up and change their ways.

When addicts are faced with the consequences of their actions, they realize what they stand to lose. They are forced to make decisions about what is most important in their lives. It is only then that treatment and recovery can begin. But just like any form of loving discipline, friends and family need to stand firm in order for the process to work.




If you think you might be an enabler, examine your role in aiding the addiction, and let your loved one know that you will not be able to continue the cycle. Be strong and don’t back down. Enforcing consequences can pull at your heart strings, but doing so will offer those you care about the best chance at recovery and rehabilitation.

Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.

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