It’s a difficult position to be in when we have loved ones who are suffering from an addiction. Whether they are currently following a treatment plan, or haven’t yet started the journey to recovery, we want to do what we can to assist them in reaching their goals.

It’s important to ensure that we help our loved ones, without enabling their addiction further. The following tips are designed to help you to understand the fine line between support and enablement.

Avoid shielding

It’s vital that we avoid shielding victims of addiction from the negative consequences of their actions. In doing so, you are not protecting them, but enabling them. Repeated shielding stops the victim from truly understanding the consequences of their actions, thus encouraging them in their habits.

Take the time to listen

Try to be available to listen to your loved one, free from judgement. It’s important to put time aside to listen to their fears, worries and experiences of change, which in recovery can often be frightening.

Reach out for assistance

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, our help isn’t enough for victims of addiction. At this point it’s important to retain focus of your own health. Try reaching out to your local health service providers or doctor for support. When your loved one is ready to recover, it is important that you are strong and ready to embark on the journey with them. Take the time to become educated on the addiction and treatment options to better prepare yourself for the next steps.

Financial caution

Guilt often comes into play when supporting a loved one with an addiction. The individual may be suffering from financial difficulties, brought on by their illness. However, it’s vital to remain cautious about lending money. One way to support your loved one without enabling their addiction is to make direct payments or purchases on their behalf for bills and basic amenities. This decreases the possibility of enabling the victim with money for substances/behaviours which may be detrimental to their recovery.

Accept your limitations

It’s important to be aware of your personal limitations when assisting a loved one with recovery. Whilst we want to do what we can to help, the space to be independent is often crucial to recovery from addiction. Don’t be discouraged if you hit obstacles; there are certain things that limit our ability to help a loved one and in these circumstances, you must be prepared to take a step back.


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