An American Addiction Centers Resource

New to the Forums?Join or

Are you enabling them?

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Loved One' started by aimeep80, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. aimeep80

    aimeep80 Senior Contributor

    For those that are living with or married to an alcoholic or an addict, do you enable them? There will be no judgement from me because I am guilty of having enabled my husband in the past when he was using and drinking still. He's clean and sober now thankfully.

    I would find myself giving him the last of my money because I felt that if I didn't do so it would make him mad at me or he would get sick from not having what he "needed". I would also make excuses for him to family and friends. The list goes on and on. I did a lot of things FOR him which was only enabling him.

    I learned that this is a no no. You have to allow them to be responsible for their own actions and they have to do things ON their own or else they will have no drive or desire to get well. Think of it as a child. If you do everything for the child he or she will not have any reason to learn things on their own. They will just know that "momma" is going to do it so why bother.

    Take it from me..enabling is something that is hurting them and not helping them or yourself. So, ask yourself if you are indeed enabling your addicted loved one and take the steps to get away from doing so.
  2. darkrebelchild

    darkrebelchild Community Champion

    I am so glad your husband is out of harm's way and I guess you were trying to be a good wife, (which you are) by 'enabling' him. The difficult part is if you try not to enable them, they will get it elsewhere. I feel if the use of alcohol or substances is known early, then one should try to stop it before it becomes an addiction; if not, a professional may need to step in.
    Mamabear and aimeep80 like this.
  3. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    Addicts will always try to find a way to manipulate their loved ones to do or give them whatever they want. And for sometime their loved ones won't even notice that they are enabling them. It's never easy to stop enabling an addict but the hard decision you make [like refusing to give an addict money] guilty though it make you feel will be good for the addict in the long run. You however have to plainly inform an addict that you won't be enabling their addiction any more. This way they'll know that you still love them even though you hate their addiction.
    aimeep80 likes this.
  4. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    So many people who have loved ones struggling with addiction have trouble with distinguishing enabling from supporting. I was one of them when my son was battling his heroin addiction. It took me quite a while to figure out the difference. Here's a rule of thumb I share with people I talk to who are struggling with the "Am I enabling?" question...

    Anything that makes it easier for your loved one to continue their addictive behavior is enabling. Anything that helps your loved one move toward recovery is supporting.


    Giving your loved one cash when they ask you for it = Enabling
    Driving your loved one to an AA or NA meeting = Supporting
    MrsJones and aimeep80 like this.
  5. Momma9

    Momma9 Community Champion

    In the past I have definitely enabled my husband's drinking. He is blind and can't drive so I would drive him to buy alcohol so he wouldn't get mad at me. Stupid! He hasn't drank much in the last few years, but he managed to find a way to get it when I refused. I do encourage and offer to take him to meetings. He hasn't been going the last few months and I worry as this is how he starts down the road to drinking again. But I can only offer and it won't help to demand he go or be a nag. It is his problem and choice; not mine.
    aimeep80 and deanokat like this.
  6. aimeep80

    aimeep80 Senior Contributor

    I do not enable hubby anymore but I do feel that I am still very very co dependent. We really both are. I think that goes hand in hand with addiction though? I may be wrong with that but I feel I've read or heard that co dependency is usually something that goes along with a marriage when one is addicted.
    Mamabear likes this.
  7. Momma9

    Momma9 Community Champion

    I believe you are correct @aimeep80. I definitely am a recovering codependent! And BTW, my husband did start drinking again, ugh. He went on a 3 day binge, but has stopped again. The crazy dance continues!
    aimeep80 likes this.
  8. aimeep80

    aimeep80 Senior Contributor

    Hi Momma9. I'm glad you are in recovery for codependency. I am as well. I still do things and catch myself usually after the fact. My husband started drinking again but he only did a 2 day binge. I like your term crazy dance because that's so true. I'm sorry yours started drinking again. It is such a struggle for them but for us as well. Hugs to you.
  9. Momma9

    Momma9 Community Champion

    Luckily he stopped drinking and started going to AA again. He sometimes realizes that he needs to keep going to AA or he drinks. I realize nothing I say or do makes a difference. It has to come from inside him. Hard to accept but true!
    aimeep80 and deanokat like this.
  10. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    @Momma9... Like Al-Anon teaches: You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it.
    Mamabear and aimeep80 like this.
  11. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    I have always felt that the difference between enabling and supporting should be explained in every support group for substance abuse. I know it was difficult for me when I first attended an AA meeting with my ex-husband and I always was offended. If I knew what I know now I believe I would not have been because I never enabled my ex he always supported his habit away from me and our sons.
    aimeep80, deanokat and Momma9 like this.
  12. explorerx7

    explorerx7 Senior Contributor

    I wouldn't say that you were enabling him. Your were mostly afraid and at the same time trying to caring for him. Many people, at first when they meet up situations like these are a bit confused as to what to do about the problem. I see that you eventually figured out that what you were doing would not have helped the situation and stopped giving him that kind of support. It's wonderful to hear that he has now overcome the drinking problem.
    Mamabear and aimeep80 like this.
  13. bluesnow

    bluesnow Member

    In my household my mother use to enable my step father, but as you mentioned, its primarily out of fear.
    When she would hide the money from from him he would be abusive towards her.
    Eventually she got the point that she quit working because she couldn't think of any way to save her money from being spent by him. That unfortunately created alot of other problems though.
    aimeep80 likes this.
  14. aimeep80

    aimeep80 Senior Contributor

    I know it's hard to tell the difference between support and enabling at times. The things I would not do, and still will not do for my husband is go purchase alcohol for him. I will not pick any up from the store or anything for him. Also, by giving him money that I have earned when I know he wants to drink is, in my opinion enabling him. Now, when he chooses to get sober, I will not drink around him at all. I can not drink due to surgery but once I'm able to again I won't do it with him if he is drinking nor will I do it around him if he is sober. So, I guess I'm doing the right things in doing that. I will support him 100 percent though in anything he does except when he feeds his addiction..I do not nor will I praise him for that. I know it is a disease but he knows it is too and when he feeds it it gets worse.
  15. Noreht

    Noreht Active Contributor

    At the moment, no. My fiance and I support each others sobriety 100%. I did however enable her when we first met, as she did me as well. A lot of it was due to us not being honest to each other about our past experiences. If I knew how far her addiction went or she mine, I think we may have started on our road to recovery much earlier. Instead we were mostly silent on our past and it caused us to use in front of each other on a frequent basis.