How Society Pays
The Neurochemistry of Addiction
Addiction: A Genetic Disease
Female Issues
Treatment for Addiction
Relapse: Sex, Love, and Relationships
Addiction and the Family


Finding Recovery

Enabling Behaviours

Changing Behaviours

Addiction in Older Adults


Enabling Behaviors

What are they?

Enabling behaviors are those behaviors that support our addicted loved one's chemical use. By not allowing the addicted person to accept the consequences for their actions…by providing the pillow each time they stumble or fall…we are enabling their chemical use.

  • Denial — Expecting the alcoholic or drug addict to be rational or to be able to control their use is denial. Accepting blame for their use is denial. My addict isn't like those "bums on the street." He goes to work every day, a responsible person. Is he really responsible…or are we just picking up the pieces?
  • Using with the addict or alcoholic — So we can watch them, limit their intake, make sure they don't drive drunk. We don't have to worry about where they are, who they're with, if they're coming home.
  • Justification — Agreeing with their rationalizations — got a stressful job so he/she deserves two martinis after work. They're in college — everybody does it. I did it and I'm not an alcoholic.
  • Keeping feelings inside — The addict's rationalizations deny our feelings — "Oh, I would never drink with the kids in the car." We get our feelings of fear denied and we begin to keep our feelings inside.
  • Avoiding problems — We keep the peace, take care of problems so we don't upset anyone.
  • Minimizing the situation — It's not so bad…things will get better when…
  • Protecting — Protecting their image with co-workers and friends…while we protect our own image.
  • Avoiding — We tranquilize our feelings with medication, work, food, exercise. The more perfectly decorated and manicured our home and lawn are, the better we look and we don't have to look at the issues.
  • Blaming, criticizing, lecturing — Did it ever stop the addict from using? They turn it around and blame us. I don't need to listen to this. I'm outta here.
  • Taking over responsibilities — He's hung over so I'll take out the trash, cut the grass, etc.
  • Feeling superior — Treating the addict like a child.
  • Controlling — You can't see your friend, he's a bad kid. You can't have any money. As co-dependents we grab onto anything we can control because the rest of our life is so unmanageable.
  • Enduring — If I can just be patient, things will get better. Or God will take care of it.

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