Don’t “Enable” Your Chemically Dependent to Continue

The following is ENABLING BEHAVIOR: If you want to help your chemically dependent person you must stop the enabling.

  • Faulty reasoning: Expecting him* to be rational; expecting him to control his drinking; believing his promises; believing you are to blame for his drinking.
  • Justifying: Agreeing with his rationalizations: “His job puts him under a lot of pressure.”
  • Minimizing: “Plenty of people are worse off;” “Last night wasn’t so bad.”
  • Covering up: Protecting his image; putting on a smile for the relatives and neighbors; telling the children he has the flu; phoning his place of work and saying he is sick.
  • Blaming: Criticizing, lecturing, threatening, dumping, accusing.
  • Taking over: Assuming his responsibilities; unable to let go because “everything will go to pieces” and “somebody has to do it.”
  • Avoiding: Using tranquilizers, food, work to escape stress.
  • Controlling: Canceling social events that might result in excessive drinking; pouring his alcohol down the sink or hiding it; pleading with him to prove his love by stopping drinking.
  • Rescuing: “I couldn’t let him sit in jail all night.”
  • Enduring: Keeping feelings inside (loss, hurt, rejection, anger, failure); allowing fear to immobilize you (“This may be bad, but it’s better than being alone”); “Where would I go?”

The chemically dependent person will get help when he wants to. The thing that will make him want to is PAIN.

To avoid enabling behavior will not be easy. It will be very difficult, but it’s the only way to help the person you love. You have tried everything else. Now try this. What do you have to lose?


* There are almost as many women who are chemically dependent as men, so substitute the word “she” for “he” when appropriate.