Often those affected by someone who has a drug or alcohol problem change their behavior to adapt, ignore, struggle or otherwise cope with that person’s substance abuse. Some of the behaviors that families and friends adopt are called “enabling”.

Enabling is action that you take to protect the person with the problem from the consequences of his or her actions. Unfortunately, enabling actually helps him or her to not deal with the problem.

Examples of enabling behavior include:

  • Covering Up – providing alibis, making excuses or even doing an impaired coworker’s work rather than allowing it to be known that he/she is not meeting his/her responsibilities.
  • Rationalizing – developing reasons why the person’s continued use is understandable or acceptable.
  • Withdrawing – avoiding contact with the person with the problem.
  • Threatening – saying that you will take action (ceasing to cover up, turning the person in, terminating the relationship) if the person doesn’t control his/her use, but not following through when he/she repeatedly uses.
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