Am I an Enabler?

Evidence-Based Care
Expert Staff

The following assessment is meant for informational purposes only. It is designed to assist you with examining your actions so that you can better help a loved one .

You may think you’re helping your loved one when what you’re really doing is enabling their behavior. When you do something for your loved one that they can and should do on their own, you’re enabling them not to do it themself.

For example, if you have a loved one who struggles with alcohol or drug misuse or addiction, and you justify their use (“they’re stressed”), make excuses for them (“they’re not feeling well”), loan them money, pay their bills, bail them out of jail or other legal situations, or lie for them, you’re enabling their behavior, experts warn.

Here, a list of 10 yes or no questions you can ask yourself to see if what you’re doing may be enabling your loved one’s behavior. You can’t change them, but you can change the way you treat them and react to their misuse and addiction.

  1. Do you frequently make excuses as to why it’s OK for them to use drugs and/or alcohol?
  2. Have you ever covered up, lied, or withheld information about their addiction to protect them from potential consequences?
  3. Do you often give them money, or have you loaned them money or bailed them out of financial trouble caused by the addiction?
  4. Do you provide a place to stay or other basic needs without setting clear boundaries or expectations regarding their addiction.
  5. Have you ignored the impact that their addiction has had on your life or your family’s life?
  6. Do you prioritize your loved one’s needs over your own responsibilities or well-being?
  7. Have you ever felt guilty or responsible for their addictive behavior?
  8. Do you feel obligated to rescue or save your loved one from the consequences of addiction?
  9. Do you avoid getting help or addressing the addiction out of fear of causing conflict?
  10. Do you constantly worry or obsess over your loved one’s well-being due to the addiction?

If your loved one struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction, American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help. We offer lots of online resources to help you approach the topic and talk to them about your concerns and some of the things you should and shouldn’t say to them. You can also call us at to talk to one of our compassionate admissions navigators, who can answer your questions and explain the options. If you have their insurance information, you can fill out the form below to get started.

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