What Scripture Says About Enabling Addiction

Apr 25, 2024

When someone close to you has an addiction, it can be difficult to know what is helpful and what is enabling them to continue in their destructive behavior. As Christians, aren’t we supposed to give freely, serve others, and turn the other cheek? How do we know when we’ve crossed a line?

What Scripture Says About Enabling Addiction

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How God Feels About Drunkenness

We all know that one of Jesus’ very first miracles was to turn water into wine, so it isn’t the wine itself that is the problem. Yet people tend to drink to excess and use it to numb feelings. Drunkenness is an excuse when we hurt others, commit crimes, are unfaithful to our families, and more.

It is the drunkenness that is a problem because people are no longer in control of their actions, make mistakes that cost them everything precious to them, and become so addicted that they drink (and use drugs) at the expense of their health and even their lives.

“For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.”–Proverbs 23:21

“Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!”–Isaiah 5:11

Signs You Might Be Enabling

  • Enablers often blame themselves for the addicted person’s actions rather than recognizing that person’s agency.
  • They bail the addicted person out of jail, pay legal fees, and help that person avoid the consequences of their actions.
  • They accept abuse from the addicted person, be it emotional blackmail, verbal attacks, or physical harm.
  • Enablers lie about or minimize the addicted person’s actions.
  • The enabler will let the addicted person live in their home, take their money, and run up bills, all without the addicted person contributing to the household.

Aren’t We Commanded to Help Without Judgment?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”–John 3:16-17

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”–Ephesians 4:32

“Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods, do not demand them back.”–Luke 6:30

Reading these scriptures, we need to serve others regardless of their actions. The real question is, what serves the addicted person in your life? Does letting them get away with bad or even criminal behavior help them in the long run?

How Consequences Save Us

Scripture doesn’t shy away from this question. It says several times that the natural consequence of our actions is His will.

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”–Thessalonians 3:10

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now, such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”–2 Thessalonians 3:10-15

“For each will have to bear his own load.”–Galatians 6:5

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”–Galatians 6:7

“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.”–Proverbs 28:19

God isn’t being mean. How else does someone decide they’re on the wrong path if not for negative consequences? Insulating an addicted person from the consequences only delays their recovery and makes them less likely to seek alcohol or drug rehab.

If someone living in your home is addicted to substances, they should still be required to contribute to family responsibilities if they are physically able to. They should go to jail if they commit crimes to get their next fix. If they abuse their family when drunk, the family needs to find safety somewhere else.

If natural consequences provide enough of a catalyst for the addicted person to change, that is where redemption comes in. God will forgive His children as many times as it takes while they stumble toward victory so long as they keep trying. In Christian-based treatment centers, they can learn how to call upon their Father in Heaven for strength and courage during the process and create lasting success.

God expects us to forgive as often as necessary to free us from the burden of sorrow, anger, and pain. However, if someone runs you over with a car, He doesn’t expect you to hold still while they back up and do it again. Set boundaries and enforce them. Protect yourself and others from harmful behavior, no matter how hard it feels to let them suffer the consequences of their actions. Turn the rest over to God.

“For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”–Hebrews 12:11

What To Do When Your Heart Breaks

Just because setting boundaries is right doesn’t mean that it is easy or that your heart won’t hurt for your loved one. God is there for you as you mourn and struggle to protect your home’s sanity. He can give you peace in the storm and guidance as you move forward.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”–James 1:5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”–Proverbs 3:5

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”–1 Peter 5:7

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”–Isaiah 41:10

Wrap Up

It can be difficult to stop enabling the addicted person in your life, but if you love them and want them to succeed, you must first let them fail. Only failure will force them to consider change. Our faith-based recovery programs in Utah and Idaho offer family counseling to help you through the process.