Don’t Enable the Addict — Please.


Real People, Real Stories:

Don't Enable the Addict

Many thanks to our friend Sandy Swenson
for sharing her blog post with us.

“If the addict is pleased with your help, you’re probably enabling. If the addict is pissed as hell, you’re probably helping the person you love.”

 Please Don’t Enable The Addict To Harm My Son ~By Sandy Swenson

Reprinted with permission

Most enablers are well-intentioned. We act out of kindness, not realizing we’ve been lured to the tip of the skewer by the addict. We try to rescue the addict from himself by fixing his circumstances and kicking his troubles down the road.

Other enablers do-the-deed through denial, low stamina for high-alert, party-buddy preservation, or simply because they couldn’t care less.
And then there are the enablers who adhere to an Unwritten Code that commands loyal protection from ‘getting in trouble’ (not seeing the real trouble the addict is already in). These enablers guard secrets that shouldn’t be kept, covering for even the most destructive behavior, like drinking while driving or overdosing or relapsing. To be nice. To be helpful. To protect.

Protect. A concept so simple, yet so misconstrued. When applied to an addict, the definition of protect needs to be turned inside-out.

Protect /prə-ˈtekt/: a) to make the addict violently angry and hate you and think you are mean; b.) to re-examine the meaning of help and hurt, and to act on that new understanding; c.) to be negatively judged by the whole world; d.) to feel sick and tired; e.) to suffer all the above short-term for the sake of the addict’s long-term well-being.

“Protect. A concept so simple, yet so misconstrued. When applied to an addict, the definition of protect needs to be turned inside-out.”

The addict pushes away the people who get in his way — the ones setting up roadblocks and shining lights in dark corners and speaking truths — but clings to (and flatters) those who so accommodatingly allow him to thrive. My son pushed away me and all the rest of his family and everyone else who truly cared, surrounding himself instead with people who would make his pathetic addicted existence comfortable. People who made it easier for him to use. Enablers. But, every time Joey was broken or dying, the enablers disappeared, thankful, I’m sure, the mess wasn’t theirs to worry about (if they bothered to give him any thought at all).

The enablers won’t lose a single night’s sleep if Joey dies.

But I will.

Sandy Swenson

Sandy Swenson, Author


Visit to read more of Sandy’s blog
and to learn about her memoir
The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story
of Her Son’s Addiction“.




> A Mother Reflects on her Daughter’s Addiction.

> How Do I Show My Love Without Enabling?

> Maggie M’s story of hope for parents of an addict.

Addiction Recovery Resources for Families of Substance Abusers, Addicts and Alcoholics

For more information on enabling: Get the help you need today.

Why Don't They Just Quit? by Joe Herzanek
Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.

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> Audible Audio Download  (LISTEN TO SAMPLE)


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