What’s the Difference? Helping vs Enabling

Have you ever had a loved one in need of help, but you had no idea where to begin helping? It’s complicated. No one asks to see their loved one struggle, and it hurts to think you may be encouraging their addiction. It can be even harder and at times and more dangerous, the more they ask for your help, the more you are enabling them. At times, you may even put your life on hold to help them, but no matter how many times you give them a hand they are still unable to catch a break and get on their feet. So, how can you draw a line between helping your loved one and enabling them? Is it possible to let go of some of the weight on your shoulders and help them to their feet without being an enabler?

It’s going to be difficult, but yes, it is possible! Allow yourself to be open and learn the differences between helping and enabling. Educate yourself on the differences. We will walk you through helping someone regain their strengths and to be able to stand your ground.

What Does It Mean To Enable Someone?

Before we go further into the differences between helping and enabling, it is crucial to understand the meaning of enabling a loved one struggling with addiction. To enable an addict means always trying to fix, solve, or take away the consequences involved with someone’s struggles in their addiction. As a result of being enabled, they begin relying on the resources available to them instead of themselves.

How Do You Know Whether You’re Enabling Someone’s Addiction

  • Making excuses for someone’s addiction– If excuses are being made for your loved one’s addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are providing them with an escape from the consequences of their actions. When, in reality, you are creating the belief that their addiction is not a problem. As a result, you are enabling your loved one to continue their drug or alcohol use. Considering the severity of you enabling your loved one, you must come to terms with their drug or alcohol use for them to be able to open their eyes to their addiction.
  • Offering money for someone’s addiction– In many cases, money could benefit a situation, but when it comes to drug or alcohol addiction, enabling someone with money will only make matters worse. You may not necessarily be paying for their addiction directly, but you are in other ways enabling their substance abuse and ridding them of the consequences to their actions. For example, you may find yourself paying for some of their bills, food, supporting their children, or possibly even lending them money for transportation; or worse, their next high. In reality, once you enable your loved one with money, you’re giving them more of a reason to dismiss their financial responsibilities. If you wanted to support an addict financially, you should consider offering to pay for them to go to a drug or alcohol rehab facility instead. Learning how to say no when asked for money can be hard, but it’s important to not enable someone.
  • Taking over someone else’s responsibilities– Having a loved one that is out of control in their addiction, you may find yourself gradually taking over their responsibilities, because you love them and want to help. As a result, you may be making matters worse for yourself by enabling them in their addiction. It is crucial you empower your loved ones rather enabling them.
  • Covering up for your loved one– A significant difference between helping and enabling is how you manage to hold them responsible for their actions. If you are the kind of loved one, family member, or friend who thinks lying to them about their actions and how they have affected you, this is another form of enabling their addiction. However, you choose to confront your loved one about their actions, do so respectfully to help them with their addiction.
  • Codependent Behavior– A vital thing to understand about being an enabler is the possibility of becoming co-dependent. Being co-dependent means your loved one’s dysfunctional behavior drives your satisfaction. In other words, as the enabler, you thrive off of the other person’s problems. However, as an enabler, you may not recognize your needs for your loved one’s dysfunction. There is help available for those who are struggling with codependency issues. You can look into your local CoDa groups to attend meetings to help with codependent tendencies.
  • Putting your loved one’s needs before yours– If you are the type of person to always put others well-being before your own, you may be enabling a loved one who is struggling with addiction. Worst case scenario, you may be doing more damage to yourself than you could imagine.

With everything being said, there is nothing more painful than watching a loved one struggle through the disease of addiction. It is crucial for you to provide a positive environment for them, as well as yourself to recover from the damage caused by their addiction. You should always work to help your loved one rather than enable them throughout the process. If you have questions or are still having a hard time understanding the meaning of being an enabler, give us a call. We can help you provide a healthy and positive environment for your loved one. Call us today at (888) 345-2025. We are available to you 24/7!