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Why is it Dangerous to Enable an Addict?

When we have a loved one struggling with addiction, our instinct is to help them, to protect them from themselves, and to put an end to their suffering. We hate seeing them in pain. We’re filled with endless worry, and we panic that they’ll only continue to keep hurting themselves. We think that if we don’t intervene, they’ll never get better. We blame ourselves for their addictions. We assume the responsibility for their recovery and try to take on all the work ourselves. Why is it dangerous to enable the addicts in our lives?

When we make it easier for our loved ones to get away with their addictions and toxic behaviors, and when we facilitate their being able to maintain them, we’re sending a very clear message to them that they don’t have to take responsibility for themselves and their recovery. We’re telling themselves we’ll do the heavy lifting for them. We’re telling them they don’t really have to work to get better. We’ll still be there for them, helping them, supporting them and making their lives easier no matter how much they hurt us or themselves. We’ll still be there to pick up the pieces, to pick them up when they fall, to shoulder the burden of their addictions for them. They’re not being challenged, tested or pushed to do the hard work necessary for recovery. They’re not feeling called to work on themselves or motivated to take their recovery seriously.

Our enabling the addicts in our lives ends up impeding their ability to get better on their own and to take their recovery into their own hands. It’s dangerous for their recovery and their chances of getting well. In addition, it can be extremely dangerous for us. We’re often being abused mentally, emotionally and physically, and when we enable their addictions, we’re also enabling their abuse. We’re telling them we’ll still be there for them no matter how badly they mistreat us, no matter how much they lie to us, no matter how much physical danger they put us in. When we want our loved ones to get well, we have to not only tell them but also show them that we won’t tolerate their mistreatment, dishonesty and abuse. We won’t continue to go along with their behaviors, allowing them to control our lives and manipulate us, blindly loving them without giving them any reason to want to do the work they need to do to get better. We have to stop enabling them, giving them so much power over us, and putting ourselves in situations that endanger us and cause us considerable pain.

The caring, compassionate staff of The Guest House is here to support you as you start your journey to recovery and healing. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.