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An Open Letter to a Teen Addicts Enabler

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Dear Enabler,

Look, I know your intentions are good. I know that you think all of your “helping” is leading someone back to you from the abyss in which they swim. I get that your rescuing comes from the absolute deepest place of love that humanity offers.  But, I also know that it’s fear and shame that are blinding you and it’s quite wrong of you to expect everyone to share your perspective of reality.


See, we all handle fear and shame differently. You’ve chosen to “help” someone keep an addiction alive, even if you honestly believe you’re doing the opposite. But others probably do not share your wish to keep an addiction alive; they have distance and separation and they probably don’t really want to suffer anymore. Believe it or not, they are just as afraid of addiction as you are, but they know that behaviors such as handing out money and rescuing an addict from his messes aren’t going to do anything but make them just as addicted as the addict.

What you don’t realize, as an enabler, is that responsibility and accountability are necessary components to all of human life. When anyone doesn’t have to be responsible or accountable to anything or anyone other than an addiction, the addiction will persist and worsen.  That’s right: as long as you’re part of the problem, you are actually obstructing any solution. It isn’t really fair of you to drag everyone into your fear-based delusion that avoiding responsibilities will do anything other than make the addict stronger in the addiction.

What’s the solution? You don’t want one. At least, not one that requires hard decisions and actions that will separate you from your worry and anger. See, over time, you’ve become addicted to addiction’s emotional draw and you don’t want to detox any more than the addict. Otherwise, you would try to make yourself as healthy as possible and not allow yourself to be caught within the same addictive cycles as the addict you think you’re helping.

What you want me, as a treatment provider, to do is congratulate you on your actions. But I can’t. You are making my job nearly impossible. Your rescuing behaviors have hijacked any real opportunity to find reasons to change. I can’t congratulate you because with you in the picture, I have a lot more to deal with than just an addict: I have to deal with all of your drama and it’s that drama that keeps unhealthy behaviors alive.

I pray for you. Really. I pray that you find light within your darkness and that you can surrender your fear and shame to God. You must realize that an addict can benefit from his addiction, if you help remove their fear and shame and get them help. I pray you figure that out sooner rather than later.


A Former Addict

The following letter was authored by a teen at Inspirations for Youth and Families teen drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.