Sunday, October 14, 2018


Am I Enabling Addiction by Helping My Child?

by Pat A., Parent and Clinician
Am I enabling my child's addiction?
It was a confession of sorts as she said, “Yep, I’m an enabler and I’ve been doing it for years.”

“Jake, he’s my older son. I can’t tell you how many times I woke him up so he wouldn’t miss football practice. He was the quarterback and had a scholarship on the line. Then I helped him write his college essays and hounded him about getting them in on time. I even picked out a suit for him to wear to his interviews. By the way, he’s now at Duke University pursuing a double major in economics and international relations.”

“Then there’s my younger son, Nick. He’s struggling with substance use. Mostly using pills, but sometimes he binge drinks. I’ve been told if I help him at all, I’m enabling. I just don’t get it. He has a life-threatening disease and people are telling me to detach, let him hit his bottom and stop enabling. If your kid had cancer, would you do that?”

So many parents, and other family members for that matter, struggle with the concept of enabling. There certainly is a natural inclination on the part of parents to love, protect and nurture their children, but when does it cross a line that can be harmful rather than helpful? This discussion focuses on the definition of enabling and what to take into consideration when trying to motivate your child to engage in healthy behaviors.
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