An enabler is a person who, acting out of a sincere sense of love, loyalty and concern, steps in to protect, cover up for, make excuses for and become more responsible for the chemically dependent person. This can prevent the addicted individual from a crisis that might bring about change, and thereby prolong his or her illness.
To find out if you may be an enabler, answer the following questions:
1) Do you avoid potential problems by trying to keep the peace? Do you do whatever you can to avoid conflict because doing so will solve problems?
2) Are you in denial about your loved one being addicted? Do you think his or her drug or alcohol use is just a phase and isn’t anything to be concerned about?
3) Do you have a hard time expressing your feelings? Do you keep all your emotions inside?
4) Do you minimize the situation? Do you think the problem will get better later?
5) Do you lecture, blame or criticize the chemically dependent person?
6) Do you take over the responsibilities of the addicted person? Do you cover for and pick up his or her slack to minimize the negative consequences? Do you repeatedly come to the rescue — bailing him or her out of jail, out of financial problems or other tight spots?
7) Do you try to protect your addicted loved one from pain?
8) Do you treat him or her like a child? Do you enjoy taking care of your loved one and feel superior when you do? Do you still financially support him or her, even though he or she is an adult?
9) Do you try to control the dependent person?
10) Are you good at just enduring? Do you often think, this too shall pass?
11) Do you believe in waiting? That God will take care of this?
12) Do you give him or her one more chance, then another and yet another?
13) Do you join him or her in the dangerous behavior, even when you know he or she has a problem?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you may have enabling behaviors, which could be making the addicted person sicker. Educate yourself about addiction and find support for families of addicts, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.