More Harm Than Good: Signs You're Enabling an Addict

You know that an addict's behavior is destructive, dangerous, and that it certainly impacts your life negatively.

You constantly worry about where the addict you care about is, whether or not they're safe, and if the next phone call you get will be from a hospital, telling you that they've overdosed. 

The only way that you can think to keep these anxieties under control is by "keeping tabs" on the addict in your life. But the truth is that behaviors we think are helping ourselves or an addict are very often enabling them to keep using. 

It's not your fault that you're accidentally enabling an addict. In fact, you likely don't even realize that you're doing just that. 

But now, it's time to stop

Read on to learn about some of the top signs of enabling behavior. 

1. You Put the Addict First -- No Matter What

One of the biggest signs that you're enabling an addict? 

You feel like you're always putting their needs above your own needs and the needs of other people in your life. 

You can't even count the number of times that you've canceled plans with friends or left in the middle of the workday to get the addict out of some sort of sticky situation.

You take their calls at all hours of the night, even if you're absolutely exhausted. Often, they've yelled at you and even blamed you for their behavior, but you put up with the emotional abuse because it's "better" than having them out on the street. 

You make decisions out of fear -- fear of retaliation from the addict, and fear for their safety. 

You've made sacrifices for the addict at the expense of your own mental and physical health, time and time again. 

2. You Struggle to Say "No" to Them

In the past few months, or even years, you've done things for the addict in your life you never thought possible. 

You've driven them to meet with their drug dealer, putting your own safety at risk. You've given them money for drugs because you're concerned that they could die if they enter withdrawal. 

You've let them stay in your home even though you know they're using because they have nowhere else to go. 

It seems like you just can't say "no" to the addict -- and you bend over backward to justify your actions. 

This is a clear sign of enabling an addict. You need to learn to say "no" and to put your needs above the whims of their addiction.

3. You Cover for Them

It's no secret that addicts lie to the people they care about quite often. 

But a sign that you're enabling addiction is that you've started to lie to protect the addict's reputation. 

You know that other people understand that the person you care about is doing drugs or engaging in other self-destructive behavior. But you go to great -- sometimes ridiculous -- lengths in order to cover for them.

This really just gives the addict an excuse for their behavior. It also makes people feel sorry for the addict, as they may believe that the addict truly has some horrible medical condition or is dealing with an emotional crisis. 

This piles more attention onto the addict and means that they don't have to deal with any real consequences. 

4. You Feel Responsible for Their Actions

In some cases, the addict may even directly blame you 

This can take a huge emotional toll on you, and it's a tactic that the addict often uses to ensure that you keep doing their bidding and taking care of them. 

They might say that you never paid enough attention to them when they were growing up. They might bring up the mistakes you made in the past and claim that these mistakes are the reason for their addiction.

They could accuse you of not loving you, or even of being an addict yourself. 

These accusations take a horrific toll on you, and they only further entrench you in the addict's life. 

5. You Resent Them

Here's the thing about enabling a drug addict or an alcoholic: it's only natural that you'll start to completely resent them over time. 

Look at all the sacrifices you're making and risks you're taking for them. And so that they can do what, exactly? Keep ruining their life and your own? 

This resentment doesn't feel good for you, and trust us, the addict can sense that you feel this way about them, too. 

Sometimes, your enabling behavior makes the addict feel guilty about asking for help because they already know how much they've taken away from you. 

This only perpetuates this vicious cycle of misery. 

Are You Ready to Stop Enabling an Addict?

If this post has helped you to realize that you're enabling an addict, now is the time to stop. 

Learning how to help an addict without enabling them is a long, sometimes painful process.

It requires you to set firm boundaries, learn how to love yourself again, and accept that you are no longer in control of their actions -- and that you never really were in the first place. 

You can and should tell them that they can get help, or that you'll have to stop interacting with them. 

Looking for the right treatment center for the addict in your life? We can help you with that. Learn more about how to find a rehab that can help your loved one.

Be sure to keep checking back with our blog for more advice on addiction and recovery -- for yourself and the addict you care about.