What Is The Difference Between Enabling and Supporting?

August 26, 2021

Being there and caring for someone you love is human nature. But, there is a thin line between being supportive of a loved one and enabling bad behavioral traits. When this is a sibling, spouse, parent, or child, this line can be almost invisible for some people. At The Last Resort Recovery Center, we help men overcome their problems with substance abuse and addiction. Enabling and addiction are things that often go hand-in-hand, and we’ve helped the loved ones of those experiencing substance abuse issues overcome their problems with enabling countless times. In this post from the Last Resort Recovery Center blog, we’ll discuss some of the key differences between enabling and supporting a loved one experiencing issues with substance abuse and addiction.

What Is Enabling?

Enabling somebody who is experiencing problems with addiction is essentially supporting that addiction. When you enable the behavior of an addict, you’re helping to convince them that their actions and behaviors are acceptable. There are a variety of different ways that you may be enabling your loved one who is struggling with addiction. One of the first things to look out for if you think you may be enabling your loved ones is making them do things by force.

Force

Using force to try and get your loved one suffering from addiction to behave how you’d like is one of the most common forms of enabling. While you think this may be the only way they can receive help, it’s usually one of the worst tactics you can use. Things like forcing your loved one into treatment or therapy sessions will only make them want to do these things less. Instead of using force and ultimatums to get them to attend these helpful sessions, consider suggesting them and hoping that they pursue it. It can be hard for those looking on the outside in to accept it, but people who are suffering from addiction will not seek help unless they truly want to, and forcing them to get help is not the right way to support them.

Ignoring the Person and/or Issue

Loved ones of an individual experiencing problems with addiction may also think to ignore the issue or person entirely. This is another form of enabling and only allows the situation to progress more. By ignoring the issue but maintaining a connection with the individual, you may convince them that you have no idea what they’re doing. In that case, they may believe they’re perfectly fine to continue on their eventual path of destruction. Ignoring the person entirely may further upset the individual, causing them to rely on their drug of choice more to cope with the feeling of loneliness and rejection. To be supportive, it’s best to let the individual know that you’re aware of their problem and that you’re there to help them through it any way you can.

Loaning, Gifts & Favors

Continuing to loan money to an individual experiencing problems with drug addiction is when many loved ones start to consider if they’re enabling their addiction. Even if they are a child or sibling, avoid loaning or gifting money to your loved ones if you think they may be using it to buy drugs with the money. Additionally, if you find that they’re regularly asking for rides to a specific location, consider stopping this as well. You could be taking them to somewhere that they frequent to purchase their substance of choice without your knowledge.

How To Be Supportive

To help your loved one overcome their addiction, the best thing you can do is be supportive. Things like educating yourself on their addiction, and stories of how others have overcome it will help show your love and concern for the individual that is struggling. Instead of forcing them to go to treatment through ultimatums or other methods, take a more suggestive route. Make them aware of the way they’ve been behaving and how it’s affected you emotionally, and let them know that you’ve found places that can help them if they so choose.


Throughout it all, it’s important to let those experiencing addiction problems know that they are not alone. Countless men in Texas and around the country struggle from substance abuse, and individuals that want to get better aren’t alone in the journey to recovery, either. Finally, one of the most effective ways to be supportive of a person struggling with addiction is to be there for them. Spend time with them, talk to them, do things that interest them. Keeping the mind occupied is key to overcoming addiction, and you can help a person who is struggling with addiction problems by simply being there for them.

Is Your Loved One Suffering From Substance Abuse Problems? The Last Resort Recovery Is Here For Both Of You.

At The Last Resort Recovery Center, we’ve helped countless men across Texas and the rest of the country overcome their problems with addiction. Part of overcoming addiction is helping loved ones understand how they may be enabling the addiction of the person suffering. Our team is here to help your loved one overcome their addiction in each and every way. To learn more, give us a call today or contact us online.

Call Our 24/7 Admission Hotline: (512)750-6750