[Note: In this article, as in all on this site,I use the terms “addict” and “alcoholic” interchangeably. Addiction is addiction, and a drug is a drug, whether legal, socially-acceptable, or not.]
ENABLING refers to the tendency of those connected with alcoholics and addicts to “help” the person. However, in doing so, they allow the addict to avoid the consequences of their drug or alcohol use. People who enable addicts are the person’s codependents.
In order for addicts to become willing to make the changes that lead to recovery, it is necessary to break through their denial so that they can begin to comprehend the extent of their problem and recognize the need for change. Enabling helps addicts avoid suffering the consequences of their disease, and allows them to continue in denial.
Enabling can increase the length of time necessary for addicts and alcoholics to reach rock bottom* by many years. It is always the wrong course of action, and it makes the enabler an accomplice in the disease process. Would you rather see your loved one go to jail for DUI, or to the morgue the next time she drives drunk?
Here are some questions that will give you an idea of how you stack up in the enabling department. Please consider that enabling can apply to undesirable behavior other than substance abuse. (Doting parents, take note.) Continue reading