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Having a friend or family member be an alcohol or drug addict is an extremely hard situation, and it may have left you wondering if you have exhibited any enabling behaviors. Oftentimes friends or loved ones of addicts have been an enabler unknowingly. It is important to note that usually during these enabling acts these individuals are not acting malicious at all, and are only trying to help their friend or family member. Here is how to recognize enabling behaviors and how you can stop enabling an alcohol or drug addiction. 

What Does Enabling Look Like

Enabling can look like a couple of  things. The most obvious is giving an addict money or the actual addictive substance. This is usually with the mindset of helping them. The next less obvious enabling scenario is just allowing for toxic behavior from an addict to continue. This is not only damaging to the addict, but to yourself as well. 

Know You Are Not Personally Responsible

It is common for the family members or close friends of an addict to feel as if their loved one’s addiction is their fault, or that they have something to do with it. Know that this is not the case! In addition to this, it is important to not dwell on any mistakes if you have been an enabler in the past. Remember, most enabling actions are done out of worry, love, and concern. The best thing that you can do is to recognize what is truly helpful for an addict and what isn’t. 

Understand What Helps an Addict and What Doesn’t 

 The next step to stopping enabling behavior is to know what does and doesn’t help an addict. Of course, giving an addict money to buy an addictive substance, or directly giving them alcohol or drugs, only fuels their addicts and is not helpful. In addition to this, allowing for toxic behaviors from an addict that often comes with their addiction is just as unhealthy. It promotes an environment where the addict can get away with hurting themselves and others. 

Setting Boundaries is Healthy

After understanding both what enabling behavior is and what is truly helpful and beneficial for an addict, the next step is to set healthy boundaries. This is the best option for both you and your friend or loved one that is going through alcohol or drug addiction. This reduces your chances for enabling their addiction because it leaves less room for toxic behaviors. 

Express Your Concern 

Expressing your concern for your friend or loved one’s health and well being is a way that you can try to guide them towards help. However, you should never appear forceful or threatening when doing this. We will explain this in more detail a little later on. Instead you should just express your concern in a caring or loving manner. Simply express your feelings, and allow your friend or loved one to express theirs as well if they are comfortable. 

Be Supportive of Treatment

If your friend or loved one does decide to enter addiction treatment, the best thing that you can do for them is offer your support both during and after alcohol or drug rehab. You can do this by visiting them while in rehab, offering to pick them up when they are finished with the program, and continuing to offer physical and emotional support when they are on the path of sober living. It is important to keep in mind what enabling an addiction looks like during this time as well, because, unfortunately, relapses can happen. Some healthy ways that you can healthily support a recovering addict in an Austin sober living home is to offer to talk whenever they have something wrong or on their mind, offering to drive them to doctors appointments and support group meetings, and offering to check in on them on a regular basis to make sure they are doing well. Of course, being understanding and trying to always see the recovering addict’s point of view is also extremely helpful. 

Things to Avoid

There are some things to avoid during this process. When avoiding enabling behavior or trying to encourage an addict to seek help you should never be condescending, judgemental, or demanding. Remember, an alcohol or drug detox is very daunting, or even scary, to many people going through adduction. An addict needs to want to get help to truly overcome their addiction. Therefore, being forceful or posing threats will only dramatically make matters worse. Instead, you should create a safe environment for your friend or loved one to talk and express their feelings without being judged. In addition to this, knowing that they have your support will likely encourage an addict to seek treatment. 


Enabling behavior, though damaging, often come from innocent mindsets of the friend and family or drug and alcohol addicts. These include giving an addict drugs or alcohol, money, or the ability to create a toxic relationship. The key to overcoming this involves understanding that their situation is not your fault, knowing what is truly helpful to an addict, and encouraging them toward a path of addiction recovery. However, this encouragement should never be forceful, and it should always come from a place of concern, support, and understanding.