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In the case of drug addiction, a loved one who is in denial or refuses to face the truth about the person's chemical dependency issues is often referred to as an enabler. The enabler may rescue the addict from the consequences of their behavior, such as putting them to bed when they pass out in the hall or giving them money to buy drugs or alcohol. The enabler often unconsciously allows the individual to continue in their addiction by cleaning up their messes and making excuses about their irrational behavior. An addict comes to expect the assistance of the enabler, and when compliance is not forthcoming, the individual will experience the addict's wrath and abusive behavior. The first step in the enabler being free from this dysfunctional role is to see the behavior for what it is.

Signs of Enabling Behavior

  • An enabler will make excuses for the addict and will complete tasks for them so that they will not have to experience the negative consequences regarding their drug use.
  • An enabler will take up for the addict regarding their drug use, and begin to rationalize about why the continuation of their drug abuse is understandable.
  • An enabler often gives ultimatums that they do not follow through with and makes idle threats about what they will do if the addict continues a certain course of behavior.
  • An enabler will hide drugs, flush them down the toilet, and throw drugs in the garbage, instead of using that energy to focus on a treatment plan.
  • An enabler will walk on eggshells when they are with the addict to avoid a confrontation with them.

An enabler is guilty of allowing the addict to continue their behavior even if they are passive and remain silent. Most of the time, this passive approach is just a defense mechanism that the enabler has adopted in order to avoid the addict's lashing out at them in an abusive way. The best way for an enabler to be free of this role, is to confront the addict and face the addiction head on. Once the enabler detaches, the addict must face the negative consequences of their addictive behavior. At this time, the addict may be open to receiving the assistance of a drug rehab program, which is the best option for drug recovery.

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