Enabling begins naturally enough, when the helper cares about the suffering individual and wants to understand his or her concerns. However, the enabler is actually colluding in the addicted individual’s denial and minimization. Denial is strengthened rather than diminished by well-meaning attempts to soften the damage. Enabling continues when the helper fears that any challenge to the addicted individual’s problem behavior will risk a break in the relationship. If the problem is ever to be resolved however, it will be because the helper dares to intervene.


  • Avoid discussions and confrontations
  • Soften consequences by minimizing the importance or impact of events
  • Make excuses, cover for, and even defend problem behaviors
  • Indirectly or rarely recommend behavior changes

Developed from Changing for Good

Dr. Jerry Law, D.Min., MDAAC, BRI-II, CIP


  • Address specific disruptive and distressing behaviors
  • Ensure that each negative behavior is followed by a consistent consequence
  • Insist that addicted individuals accept responsibility for their actions
  • Directly and frequently recommend behavior change