man carrying dog on backBy Dr. Howard Peiper – Path to a Better Life –


Enabling can be described as a behavior pattern of the significant people in the life on an addict or alcoholic. Enabling involves rescuing the alcoholic/addict from the negative consequences of his or her behavior. When the addict has negative consequences of his/her addiction removed, the significant other is enabling the addict to continue using.

The significant other enables the addict to stay in active addiction. This effect is usually not the intention of the worried and caring family member or friend. Most of the time the significant other is trying to help rather than hurt. People who love an addict/alcoholic may see the link between the using and the problems associated with it. They erroneously believe that if they can intervene and solve the problems associated with using, that the addict will be able to regain control over his/her life.

Alcoholics/addicts in active addiction often have layers of enablers. When family members of addicts finally get to a place where they can detach, either with anger or with love, there are often others willing to step up and takeover their enabling roles. These second, third (and so forth) layers of enablers could be made up of parents, spouses, friends, coworkers, boss, clergy, community agencies, etc. The ways that they enable is much like the primary enablers (parents and spouses). They provide money, food, shelter, transportation, etc.

Second tier enablers can become engaged in the same struggle over control that primary enablers do. They try reason, logic, argument, bribery, shaming, lectures, and threats to get the addict to step up and take responsibility for his/her life. They tend to suffer from the mistaken assumption that the addict can take control if she/he just would.

Examples of Enabling

Examples of enabling behaviors include:

  • Making excuses for the addict/alcoholic (calling the alcoholic’s boss to say they are sick with the flu, when they are really hug over, or referring to your teenager’s drug use as just a phase)
  • Paying their bills
  • Bailing them out of jail
  • Making rationalizations for their irresponsible behaviors
  • Ignoring the problems caused by the addict’s use (financial, employment, legal)
  • Cleaning up their messes
  • Accepting their excuses or believing their lies
  • Not discussing the problem of their chemical use
  • Not getting help for yourself

For most alcoholics/addicts to take control of his/her life, it is necessary to receive appropriate treatment for addiction. It does not matter where an addict is addicted to cocaine, pot, sex, or prescription drugs. Most people need professional help to put their addiction into remission so that they have an opportunity to resolve the other problems in their lives. Significant others of addicts/alcoholics initially mistakenly think that the addiction will go away if the problems associated with it are resolved. One example is financial responsibility. Addicts can become financially responsible once clean/sober, but cannot become clean/sober by becoming financially responsible. It does not work that way.

Like other family members, the second tier of enablers often believe that if an addict can get a better place to live, a job, disability benefits, (or any other desired element), that they can feel better and become motivated to quit drinking/using. Significant others often operate from the mistaken assumption that the alcoholic/addict drinks and uses because of the circumstances of their his/her life instead of the probability that the alcoholic/addict that the negative circumstances exist because of the drinking/using. Most people do not start drinking or using to escape from problems. They start drinking/using for fun, recreation, or socializing. Problems, such as low self-esteem, trauma, unresolved grief, and other troubling conditions can help create a climate where addiction can occur.

Dr. Howard Peiper

Dr. Howard  Peiper is a nationally recognized expert in the holistic counseling field. His healing, healthcare and natural professional credentials extend over a thirty year period and include those of naturopath, author, lecturer, magazine consultant, radio personality and host of a television show, Partners in Healing. Visit his website

Howard, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, has written numerous books on nutrition and natural health including 12 best sellers.

Create a Miracle with Hexagonal Water
New Hope for Serious Diseases
The A.D.D. & A.D.H. Diet
Zeolite Nature's Heavy Metal Detoxifier
Viral Immunity with Humic Acid
The Secrets of Staying Young
Nutritional Leverage For Great Golf
All Natural High Performance Diet
Natural Solutions For Sexual Enhancement
Super Nutrition for Dogs and Cats

Books can be ordered at:
Safe Goods Publishing.

Dr. Peiper is co-host of the award winning Television show, Partners in Healing. They feature guest in the alternative healing field including such names as Harvey Diamond, Dr. John Upledger, Dr. Bernard Jensen, Gary Null and Dr. Marshall Mandell.

Dr. Howard Peiper

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