In my addiction I isolated myself so much that I didn’t really have any enablers. In that, I am very fortunate. Enablers are as toxic as the disease itself.
With the very best intentions enablers often make matters worse. This is true with addiction as well as mental illness. There are many different ways to enable someone but in my (non-professional) opinion, over sympathizing is the most dangerous.
Sympathizing, coddling, fussing over and indulging in the afflicted person’s self pity is of absolutely no benefit and in no way aids their recovery. I am not suggesting that friends and loved ones treat the person harshly. I am suggesting that if you want to help someone who suffers from an addiction or mental illness you need to educate yourself. There are tons of resources available to help you help them.
Once you understand what you are dealing with you can begin to help them. That will usually begin with no longer giving into their ploys for attention and sympathy but instead hold them accountable for their life, behavior and their recovery. You will be able to offer them suggestions, treatment options and other things that will help them in a positive way.
Finally, if you don’t want to be enabler you need to know when enough is enough. Unfortunately, recovery isn’t possible unless the one suffering is ready to recover. Nothing you can do or say will change that. They have to get tired of their own bullshit before they even have a shot at recovery. So just remember that you can’t help those who won’t help themselves and always remember to take care of yourself first.