KCI The Anti_Meth Site

Home  |  Meth Topics  |  Letters & Stories  |  Message Board  |  Slang Names  |  Anti-Meth Sites  |  Cleaning up Labs  |  Physical Damage  |   Resources for Teachers  |  Research Articles  |  Recommend Reading  |  SEARCH

What is Enabling?

scorpio ENABLING
What is enabling?

Enabling is doing for others what they are capable of doing for themselves. When we enable addicts, we prevent them from experiencing the consequences of their own actions. When we do this, we discourage them from learning from their own mistakes. This, in turn, prevents them from realizing they have a problem.

The addict has made drugs the focus of their daily activity, letting responsibility and common sense fall by the wayside. When we continue to do even the simple things for an addict we care about, little is left to motivate them to enter or rediscover their recovery.

How do we enable?
We enable addicts by doing things such as:
Paying their bills, making car payments, covering bounced checks, paying bail, paying traffic tickets;  Making excuses for their behavior, changing appointments, calling employers on absenteeism, writing late or absentee excuses to schools, covering up for missed family functions;  Providing the addict with money, clothing, housing and food;  Caring for the addict's family by allowing them to live with us, taking their children to school, babysitting, etc.

What does enabling do for us?
Enabling gives us a false sense of control. We do what society tells us a "good" father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter or friend should do, but we are not getting the results we desire. We feel frustrated and resentful. Because the addict's behavior does not change, we think we have failed.

Our actions, done with the best of intentions, have back-fired.
What is the difference between helping and enabling?

We need to look deep inside ourselves to determine the difference between helping and enabling. "How do I feel when I offer my help? What's in it for me?" Checking your motives will help you decide when you are truly helping or when you are enabling.

Can you enable an addict (or anyone) who is not using?
We can enable anyone, using or not. Our enabling behavior patterns are not directed solely toward the addict and/or the addict's sobriety. Enabling deprives anyone of experiencing the consequences of their own behavior.

Remember, when taking responsibility for our own behavior each one of us must find our own path. Experience teaches us that it is useless to lay out a path for someone else to follow.

gigi177 Re: Enabling
I understand the concept of 'enabling'.
However, I'm wondering about after the addict has straightened up their lives. Maybe not up to my expectations but they are gainfully employed and off drugs.
With Xmas coming up I want to send my daughter presents, of course. Is that still considered enabling? Or just gifts, now that she's more stable?
Re: Enabling
hmmm, my aunt and grandmother sent me Xmas gifts when I was using. Birthday cards too. My kids got gifts too.
Those gifts were always and still are special to me.
Maybe I'm odd, but why cancel Christmas because she's not up to 'certain' standards? I mean the kids aren't using so I'm sure she'd give them their gifts.
Pick gifts that are appropriate. A plaque for her accomplishments or to help her achieve goals.
My aunt sent me condoms for old 'suckers' when I was using, each package was made into a sucker and had a pretty ribbon on the stick. Bunch of different colors. I thought it was funny, useful and hella cool for her to do that.
My cousin sent me a Christmas card that read, "May ALL your Christmas's be WHITE!!" and it had a pic of a dude with a big pile of 'snow' on the table. It was funny, a little embarrassing, but funny. My cousin was young and I didn't think she knew. Still was funny though. My bad.
Don't cancel Christmas for anyone. Pick what's appropriate and with love, like any other year.
Much Peace.
Re: Enabling
Now here's a question. It's a hard one to answer, I think.
Is it enabling if you accept Christmas gifts from the meth addict that you are about 100% sure are stolen (or traded for dope) in some way, shape or form? See, they are getting that little happy feeling by giving a gift and some of the guilt and shame is shed through a drug and crime gift given and their way of obtaining a gift is being reinforced if it is appreciated.

I know it's the thought that counts...but, is it enabling the addict to go through another day of hell feeling like his/her life isn't that bad? Is it reinforcing the thought, "I can do this dope and do just fine" ??
gigi177 Re: Enabling
I guess for me it wouldn't seem enabling the addict because it has to be their choice whether they get clean or not. It's not your choice to decide for them if their gift is appropriate or not. Do you get what I'm saying?

Also, I have already sent my daughter a winter coat, boots, hat, gloves and a scarf as she lives in Montana and it gets really cold there. Last year she had to share a coat with a friend.

But I plan to send her pj's, sox, undies, and some long sleeve T-shirts to go with some blouses. Since she's gotten clean she has put on about 20 lbs. and she needs the clothes for work. I bought her 3 prs. of pants a few weeks ago. I know it sounds like a lot but she barely has enough money to buy food and rent and I would usually spend about the same amount of money on her anyway. I haven't mailed her gifts yet so if someone thinks I'm going over board speak now and I'll consider all opinions!
robinrue Re: Enabling
Hi Gigi, I see nothing wrong with sending clothes, I would remove all tags so she can't return them anywhere, Robin
Loraura Re: Enabling
Maybe I'm odd, but why cancel Christmas because she's not up to 'certain' standards? I mean the kids aren't using so I'm sure she'd give them their gifts.

You'd be surprised how many people will take gifts for their children and sell them for money.

No tags? Ebay.

scorpio Re: Enabling
Christmas presents aren't enabling,, unless maybe your gift is money to get high on,,, or something that enables them to get high.

When I was getting loaded my mother paid my electric bill and sent me the receipt in a card. I was pissed,,, where's my present?
gigi177 Re: Enabling
I will NEVER send her money. In the past year her grandfathers have sent money for Xmas and her birthday. They send it to me. I put it in her savings account. She doesn't know about it and I'll give it to her when she comes home.

Anything I send her has the tags taken off of them. I make sure she can't take it back to the store I've bought it from. If she chooses to sell her gifts I can't stop her. However, I know how little she has to wear and I know how thankful she is when she gets her packages.

My son was in Montana a few weeks ago visiting her and he took her to shop for her pants. He said she had tears in her eyes when he told her she could have all 3 pairs! And literally broke down and cried when he let her have BOTH pots of eye shadow. I had given him the money to pay for all her gifts. So I know she won't sell them. She needs them too badly to sell them.
FSOAB Re: Enabling
I have seen many things that I would call enabling..

Its so sad because the way I have seen meth get a hold of someone and manipulate the caring, giving and love was used in a wrong way.. Way wrong in my eyes..

I have seen how a simple card can give a false sense to the user (they are o.k.) and I have seen how a new vehicle from family can give the user extra money to blow on some blow.. It really hurts to see just how far they can go..

My guess is that the user will someday hit a point of wanting better than the hell they live and will remember the people that pushed, stood and fought for them to do that.. How could they not?

I have five children and if I got wind of them using or abusing drugs, there is no way I could stand by and give them a false sense that it is o.k.... I would be very careful in the steps I would take. Life depends on it.. Not only theirs, but their spouse, children and even me...

See also:

Enabling Methamphetamine Users - Question about my son

Supporting vs. Enabling - need advice

Son off meth two years, am I enabling or helping him now?

Back to Crystal Meth & Methamphetamine Questions, Answers & Advice

THIS SITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your health care professional if you have a specific health concern.


Copyright 1999-2017 by KCI The Anti-Meth Site
All Rights Reserved
Legal Disclaimers and Copyright Notices