When caring for a loved-one becomes enabling an addiction. A fine line.

19 January 2017
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19 January 2017, Comments 0

If you have a person in your life who suffers with an addiction, it can be incredibly difficult to know how best to help them. What may feel like the most caring and loving action, could potentially be a risk to their life.


When a loved-one is in pain and suffering from withdrawals from a substance, or desperate for money to keep the loan-sharks from the door, surely the kindest thing is to offer money/help/sympathy?

Not necessarily.

The reasons not to give a drug-addict or alcoholic money are reasonably obvious:

you are helping to feed their addiction

this ‘hit’ could be the one they overdose on

this drink could be the one that finally causes their liver to rupture etc etc

However, there are more subtle ways in which ‘helping’ an addict can cause more harm than good. For instance, if you’re pretty certain someone close to you has an addiction of some kind, consider the following:

  1. Buying them food/gas/electric and other essentials means they have more money to spend (or have already spent) on their addiction.
  2. Ignoring excessive weight gain, weight loss, or strange behaviours around food because you don’t want to upset them, could in fact be you colluding with an eating disorder.
  3. Repeatedly paying for stays in rehab after successive relapses may mean that you are enabling their drinking/using. The addict has learnt that they can drink/use again because you will pick up the pieces.
  4. Sympathising with ‘victims’ of abusive relationships, and not challenging signs of violence in a relationship, is confirmation to a Sex & Love Addict that this behaviour is acceptable.
  5. Financially bailing-out a compulsive gambler so that they can pay their mortgage, buy their kids Christmas presents etc etc will only perpetuate their addiction.
  6. Not calling the police when an addict (even if it is a member of your family) commits a crime, means they avoid the consequences of their actions; the very thing that could prompt them to get help.


In 2014/2015 over 23,000 people accessed help for a drug problem through the criminal justice system (according to the NDTMS). During this 12 month period, had these individuals not been caught for their crimes, they would not have been introduced to some sort of treatment plan for their drug abuse.

I understand that it’s a seriously tough decision to report a loved-one to the police, however sometimes it can be just the wake-up call that’s needed to catapult them into recovery.

So… perhaps after reading this you will reconsider what may be ‘helping’ someone with an addiction and what could be seen as enabling or colluding with their illness.

TOUGH LOVE. I believe that’s what those of us with addictive personalities usually need. So, take a chance and maybe you will be the one to break their denial. You might just save their life.





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