‘Enabling’ is the term used to describe a situation when family members inadvertently ‘enable’ their loved one's drug or alcohol use. Most family members would like their loved one to stop using alcohol or drugs and would never deliberately support or encourage this behaviour. However, providing money, food or shelter, or rescuing your loved one when they get into a tricky spot can prevent them experiencing the true consequences of their choices and remove any incentive to change. Family members can end up running around picking up the pieces of their loved ones choices while the user remains relatively unaffected by their own choices.
Just as with setting boundaries, it can be very difficult to stop ‘enabling’ and very painful to watch your loved one experience the consequences when you no longer pick up the pieces. But many family members say that taking these decisions was essential in effecting change and in regaining a sense of normality for themselves and the rest of the family.