10 Ways to Cope with an Addict in the Family

Are You an Enabler?

"Enabling" and "detachment with love" -- these are concepts families should learn about when coping with addiction.

In a family where an addict's behavior is creating chaos, enablers make excuses for the addict's behavior, and never talk directly about the problem or recovery. This type of family dynamic destroys personal boundaries and individual sense of self. There are tools families can use to help restore the balance between being responsible for or responsible to others.

Learning to "detach with love" is one of those tools. Taught at groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, it is a concept where family members allow the addict to make mistakes and learn from them, rather than helping the addict avoid the consequences of the addictive behavior. This tool is based on loving the person but detaching oneself from the person's disease to avoid emotional turmoil and pain as well as physical pain and stress.