Parents will go to the end of the world to help their kids. It’s incredible, really. But there are times where “helping” them is ending them. We aren’t being dramatic, just factual.

One of these times is with addiction. There is a thin line between helping an addict and enabling them. It is this thin line we are going to expose in this article. This is absolutely necessary when one considers the dangers of addiction enabling, but let’s not spoil anything!

What Is Addiction Enabling?

Addiction enabling occurs when family and friends of an addict support addiction, directly or indirectly, through their behaviors and actions. Whenever you act in such a way that pushes the addict closer to addiction rather than away from it, you are enabling addiction.

Enabling an addict creates an atmosphere that allows their addiction to thrive, which is usually contrary to the intent of the behavior that causes that enabling. So, rather than owning up and confronting the problem, the addicted children embrace and continue in it.

Difference Between Helping and Enabling

“But, I love my kid and want to help them get over addiction anyway possible,” yes, that’s good of you. In fact, it is one of your responsibilities as a parent to help your kids get through whatever they are dealing with. But all that becomes way trickier when it comes to addiction.

How do we mean?

You need to ask yourself if you’re helping the kids or enabling them. The answer to this question is another question – will my actions increase or reduce my child’s addiction?

Simply put, helping involves behaviors and actions that will drive the kids away from addiction while enabling will drive them in the other direction; the wrong direction.

But exactly how can I tell that my actions are enabling and not helping?

Are You Enabling Your Child’s Addiction?

There are several signs of addiction enabling – far more than one article can contain. However, below are some of the commonest and important signs that will help you know if what you’re doing is enabling addiction.

1.    Assisting Substance Abuse

Perhaps the most foolproof way you can tell that you’re enabling your child’s addiction is by actively assisting them in abusing the substance. Some parents will get the drugs or substances for their kids. That’s the worst thing you can do for them.

2.    Avoiding the Problem

Actively assisting the addict sounds bad, but there’s another angle to it. Some parents will not actively assist the addicts but turn a blind eye and allow it. This is just as bad. These parents believe that avoiding the problem will make matters better. Spoiler alert – it won’t.

3.    Denial of Problem

Denying that there’s a problem is just as it sounds – denying that there is a problem. This is different from avoiding the problem where the parents know that there’s a problem and just ignore it. Denial involves the parents convincing themselves there’s no problem even when there obviously is.

4.    Justification of Addiction

This sign is typically reserved for overly protective parents. Now, these parents understand that there’s an addiction problem with their kids, but instead of trying to figure out how to solve it, they find excuses and ways to justify it. These excuses and justifications may even make sense but focusing on this rather than the actual problem is a sign of enabling addiction.

5.    Resentful Behavior

Some parents go the harsh way and start exhibiting resentful behaviors towards their kids. Their intention is either to feel better with themselves or make the child come to their senses or both. Whichever way, the result is always the same, which is the child going deeper into addiction, finding solace in the substance.

6.    Assuming Responsibilities for Addicts

Speaking of overly protective parents, we have another common behavior. Parents may assume responsibilities for their kids with the hope that they can overcome the addiction for their kids. This doesn’t work and will only create an atmosphere where the kid doesn’t own up to their problem.

Stopping Addiction Enabling

From the signs of enabling addiction, you can get a clear idea of what not to do. One of the most important things to note when trying to help a kid overcome addiction is that “the fight is not yours; it’s the child’s.” Yes, you want to win that fight against addiction badly, but it isn’t your fight.

You have to let the child confront the problem themself. You can assist them in winning the fight, but don’t try to take the driving wheel. And, of course, ensure all your actions will drive them away from addiction and not to it.


Addiction enabling are steps and actions relatives take that can increase rather than decrease addiction. Parents need to understand the difference between helping their kids and enabling them. There are some indicative signs parents should be wary of, some of which we have highlighted. With the right approach, parents can actually make a meaningful impact in stopping addiction.

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