When you love someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there’s no denying that you want to help them. However, it can be hard to tell if you are actually helping them or if you are enabling their addiction.

The line between supporting & enabling is a thin one. Crossing it can mean the difference between actually giving your loved one the help that he or she needs and fueling the addiction.

Enabling & Supporting: What’s the Difference?

In a lot of ways, enabling resembles supporting, but there is one key aspect that differs:

  • when you enable someone, you are protecting him or her from having to deal with the consequences of his or her actions.

While this might sound like something that you would – and should – want to do for someone you love, when it comes to addiction, it actually does more harm than good.

Supporting, on the other hand, means that you are encouraging your loved one, yet you understand that he or she does need to deal with the consequences of choices that are made.

Signs of Enabling & Supporting

Even with the above description, it can still be difficult to differentiate between enabling & supporting a loved one. To help you gain a better understanding of both, below are examples of both:


  • Constantly making excuses for behaviors or actions
  • Covering mistakes
  • Offering money
  • Blaming others
  • Lying for them
  • Pretending there isn’t an issue


  • Saying no when they ask for money
  • Actively looking for help in the form of rehab or support groups
  • Not covering up mistakes
  • Making your loved one face the consequences

On the surface, supporting an addict might seem harsh; however, no matter how difficult it may be, supporting is far better than the destruction that enabling can cause.


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