Loving Someone with an Addiction in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Loving Someone with an Addiction in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Loving someone with an addiction is hard; there is no question about it. Between watching them suffer and experiencing fear and worry yourself, it is only natural to want to do anything in your power to help. However, there is a fine line between helping an addict and enabling an addict. 

Enabling behaviours are extremely common among people in Winnipeg who have a loved one who is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. As this person watches his or her addicted loved one spiral out of control, they may feel a sense of responsibility to help their loved one get back on the right path. Although this impulse is completely normal, it can do more harm than good. As a result, learning how to love and support an addict without enabling their destructive behaviours is crucial. Not only will it benefit your loved one, but it will improve your mental health and quality of life as well. So, how exactly do you love and help a person with addiction without enabling them? 

The Challenges of Loving a Person with an Addiction

When a friend or family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it will affect virtually every person that individual is close with. Particularly in families; addiction is often referred to as a family disease because it affects the structure and function of the Canadian family system. Those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol in Winnipeg may lie to or steal from their loved ones, say hurtful things, or act out in irrational and even violent behaviours. As a result, trust is broken, finances get drained, and the family unit begins suffering as a whole.

While some family members may spend all night lying awake worrying about their loved one’s well-being, others may cope with humor, deflection, or even substance use themselves. On the other hand, some people develop codependent behaviours, where their livelihood revolves around protecting and enabling the addicted person. Ultimately, drug addiction and alcoholism are devastating conditions that permeate every layer of the family system until each individual makes an effort to change.

Examples of Enabling Behaviours in Winnipeg

enabling an addict

Enabling is a pattern of behaviours that shield people from experiencing the full consequences of their destructive behaviours. In another sense, enabling can be thought of as doing things for others that they are capable of doing themselves. This pattern of behaviour is often seen in parents or spouses of addicts and alcoholics, as these individuals in Winnipeg are naturally compelled to help their child or spouse.

At first, enabling may seem like helping as it is essentially protecting someone from experiencing the consequences of their behaviours. Doing so allows the addict or alcoholic to continue abusing substances without interference or a reason to stop. To explain, the difference between loving an addict and enabling an addict is that enabling allows them to be irresponsible and further damage their lives and possibly yours and other family members as well.

Examples of enabling include the following.

  • Bailing the individual out of jail or paying for lawyer fees, tickets, or fines
  • Blaming others for the behaviours of the addict
  • Lying for the addict to cover up their behaviours
  • Providing the addict with shelter, food, clothing, etc
  • Loaning or giving the person with the addiction money
  • Driving the alcoholic to the liquor store
  • Blaming the addict’s behaviours on another problem, such as mental illness or trauma
  • Making threats to leave or cut the addict off financially but never actually doing so


Even though these behaviours protect individuals from experiencing negative consequences, they only aid in the person’s addiction. Oftentimes, people in Winnipeg experiencing addiction will continue using until they reach a point of desperation. This may come from getting a DWI, going to prison, losing a job, or something as minor as a parent saying their child can no longer live in the home if they use drugs. Whatever the case may be, letting people experience the full impact of their behaviours can encourage them to seek treatment in Winnipeg sooner. 

Am I Enabling?

To actually help your addicted loved one in Winnipeg, it is important to first recognize which behaviours you are acting out on that may be enabling their substance abuse. Examine situations in the home that have made you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed and ask yourself if the way you reacted to those situations was in the best interest of your loved one? 

For example, did you call into work sick for your loved one while he or she was hungover? Are you doing things for them that they are capable of doing themselves, simply to protect them? If so, you are probably enabling your loved one’s addiction.

Once you have admitted that you are enabling, it’s time to recognize that even though it isn’t easy, you must accept that you cannot control the actions of your loved one. Even though it is difficult to watch without stepping in, your loved one must deal with his or her actions. Otherwise, he or she may never accept help.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

setting healthy boundaries

Perhaps the most important part of loving an addict or alcoholic in Winnipeg without enabling them is to set boundaries. Boundaries are specific rules and guidelines that are established to protect your well-being so that you are not taken advantage of by your addicted loved one. Even though these are uncomfortable conversations to have, they are vital to your own emotional and mental health.

Clear-cut rules and boundaries must be enforced to stop enabling behaviours. When setting a boundary, explain to your loved one exactly how you feel, why you feel that way, which behaviours are unacceptable, and what will happen if the boundary is crossed. Be polite, yet concise and assertive.

Some common examples of healthy boundaries that are helpful when learning to love rather than enable an addict or alcoholic in Winnipeg may include the following.

  • The individual cannot come home intoxicated or they will be asked to leave the home
  • Doors will be locked if curfews are broken
  • Drugs and drug paraphernalia are not allowed in the home
  • Alcohol may not be allowed in the home
  • Money will not be lent to the individual
  • Bills and rent will not be paid for the individual
  • Refusing to lie for or cover up the individual’s behaviours
  • Not loaning the vehicle to the loved one
  • Refusing to babysit or care for minors so the individual can go out and party
  • Certain friends or partners who encourage the individual to continue using will not be allowed in the house
  • The individual may not be allowed to see minor children if they are under the influence and they may even lose custody
  • You will not pick them up from jail or bail them out


Your loved one must understand the consequences that will occur if these boundaries are broken. Furthermore, what’s even more important is that you stand by your boundaries and enforce them. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol may try to test their limits and see if they will cave, but it is critical to stand your ground, enforce your boundaries, and detach with love.

Tips to Support an Addict in Winnipeg Without Enabling

Once again it is important to remember that you cannot fix or cure your loved one if they are experiencing addiction. In reality, the only person you have control over is yourself. If you try to change yourself in any way you will see how hard that is let alone trying to change another person. In addition to setting boundaries, it is vital to take care of yourself and obtain the support you and your family needs. Here are some tips to help you stop enabling and start supporting your addicted loved one in Winnipeg.

  • Don’t Use Drugs or Alcohol around them – Whether your loved one is actively using drugs and alcohol or is in early recovery, one way you can support them is by avoiding substance use yourself. Exposure to drugs and alcohol may trigger relapse or give them the idea that drug or alcohol use is acceptable. Instead, stay sober in their presence to support abstinence.
  • Join a support group like Al-Anon – Even though it is easy to neglect your own needs when trying to love and support an addict or alcoholic in Winnipeg, self-care is vital. Plus, you have likely been through a lot and could use some support yourself. Fortunately, groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are available all over Winnipeg and Manitoba in general to support family members of alcoholics. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are free programs similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in Winnipeg and Narcotics Anonymous in Winnipeg where family members and friends can gain support and guidance from their peers.
  • Participate in Family Therapy – One of the best ways you can learn to love an addict or alcoholic without enabling them is to participate in family therapy. Family counselling sessions provide the entire family with a safe and therapeutic place to voice their concerns, work through emotions, resolve issues in the home, and learn to function better as a family unit. Therapists can also provide family members with tips and resources that will help them break free from enabling behaviours.

Consider Staging an Intervention in Winnipeg, Manitoba

If your loved one won’t stop using drugs or alcohol, it is true you may not be able to force them to go to treatment however they are highly more likely to go after a professional intervention is staged. Drug and alcohol interventions are very successful in encouraging people in Winnipeg to get the help they so desperately need. Interventions are held by addiction specialists in Winnipeg who work with the family members with the ultimate goal of sending the addicted loved one to rehab in Winnipeg or elsewhere and restoring peace in the home.

Interventions can be difficult to go through for both the family and friends of someone with a substance use disorder as well as the person who has an addiction and it is best to get a professional involved to make it go smoothly as possible so the person receiving the intervention follows through and goes off to treatment in Winnipeg. 

What Happens During the Intervention?

family intervention

An intervention occurs when a group of people — usually the loved ones of someone with an addiction and an addiction specialist or Interventionist — confront someone who has an addiction and attempt to persuade them to seek treatment. The ultimate goal of the intervention is to motivate someone with a substance addiction to get treatment (detox and rehab in Winnipeg). 

It can be difficult to reach a person who has become dependent on alcohol or drugs in Winnipeg, and denial is a primary characteristic of this disease. While an intervention can help break through that denial, these meetings can also backfire if handled poorly. In addition to hiring a professional Interventionist in Winnipeg to help if you are concerned about the health and welfare of a loved one, there are some particular dos and don’ts of a successful intervention.

  • Don’t schedule an intervention at a time when someone with an addiction could become stressed or more likely drunk or high already
  • Don’t yell at or shame the person with addiction
  • Do keep calm
  • Do be as specific as possible when sharing how the person’s addiction has affected you
  • Do keep the dialogue short and to the point 
  • Don’t lay blame


There are many misconceptions about interventions, and one is that these meetings with an addicted loved one are the last resort. The truth is that a drug or alcohol intervention is one of the best ways to facilitate communication with someone who has a substance use disorder. It is never too early to schedule an intervention.

Get Help for You and Your Loved One Today in Winnipeg

Since addiction is a family disease, treatment is most effective when the entire family is involved. Unquestionably, loving an addict is never easy, but enabling them can be dangerous. Moreover, addiction wreaks havoc on everyone close to the substance abuser – which is why everyone deserves support.

If you’re looking to help your addicted loved one break free from addiction, our addiction specialists and interventionists are right here in Winnipeg and are here to help. Whether you’re looking to stage an intervention, seek help for the family, or locate an addiction treatment centre in Winnipeg or Manitoba, contact us today.

We’re Ready When You Are…

Our addiction specialists and interventionists in Winnipeg will help you and your family stage an intervention and convince your loved one to seek professional help and thereby gain long-term recovery from substance abuse or alcoholism. Our innovative and solution-based techniques will help guide your loved one to the drug and/or alcohol detox and rehab facility that will best meet their individual needs. We will be with you every step of the way. If you or a loved one requires addiction resources for drugs and alcohol in Winnipeg, Manitoba, contact us today for an assessment.

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