There’s a two-sided irony operating in these situations. First, family and friends of an opiate addict play a part in enabling the addict’s behavior to continue, though their intentions are otherwise. Second, despite valid fears regarding an opiate addict’s welfare, the actions of family and friends do little to minimize the risks associated with opiate addiction. I would, in fact, argue that they put an active opiate addict at an increased risk of death and incarceration.
With a steady supply of money, an opiate addict is more likely abuse drugs in greater frequency and quantity. Opiate addiction progresses at a heightened pace. As tolerance to opiates increases, an addict requires more of the drug to sustain the same effect. More potent opiates may be sought. This form of progression substantially increases the risk of overdose and death. At some point, money from family and friends will not support an opiate addict’s habit. At this stage, an addict is very likely to turn to theft.
In short, enabling may increase an addict’s risk of overdose and death. It can also cause addiction to progress at an inorganic rate, making funds acquired from family and friends inadequate to support the habit. Once this occurs, opiate addicts often turn to theft as a way to feed addiction.
Family and friends who contribute shelter, money or any other resources to an active opiate addict engage in negative enabling. Negative enabling essentially means some form of contribution that allows an opiate addict to continue progression in addiction. Positive enabling, on the other hand, encourages circumstances and consequences that offer the best chance for an opiate addict to alter the course of addiction.