Enabling a Loved One: A Christian Perspective

Enabling a Loved One: A Christian Perspective


We all have one in our family. The loved one who drinks a little too much, gambles, or takes a few too many pain pills. These family members can be the root of arguments, suffering, and drama. It can be very stressful to deal with loved ones who have a drinking problem or other issues with addiction.

Well-meaning families have usually tried everything. They write checks, beg loved ones, pray to God, fast, and usually try to control every problem that comes up. What is hard is to realize is that by interfering in the natural course of events, we are not allowing God to handle the problem.

Enabling is what we do when we don’t allow someone to experience the consequences of their own behavior. Many factors affect our decision to help an addict or not. We are the product of our own upbringing, and if we were witness to the covering up or controlling of problems, we will naturally do it ourselves.

Another factor is the shame and embarrassment that comes with having a family member who gets arrested, has their name in the paper, is summoned to court dates, or causes destruction. We understandably want to take away our pain and that of our affected loved one and so we do what we can to smooth over the issues and relieve the anguish.

What helps? Counseling with our spiritual father and addiction professionals can help us discern whether we are doing the right or wrong things. Our spiritual father can help us decide where God can work His magic and where we should stay out of it. Many times this will take years of therapy or work on our part to release ourselves from the overwhelming feeling of responsibility towards someone who is making poor decisions.

I have been involved with a co-dependency group for almost twenty years. At first I went to help a loved one who was in recovery, but soon it became evident that the program was for me. I was not attending my church on a regular basis, and I felt overwhelmed by my own problems. After taking part in the co-dependency meetings, I went back to my church and became involved. My love for Christ has grown in the wake of my release from problems that were really not my own.

Recently I wrote my first book about my spiritual journey. It includes my own struggle with overcoming control and perfectionism. We are not perfect; only God is. If you are dealing with an addict or alcoholic loved one, or if you suspect you or someone in your family is having difficulty, I encourage you to seek help from your spiritual father, a professional counselor, or attend a twelve-step program for families in your local area.

Joanne Jamis Cain is the author of Ordinary IS Extraordinary.


The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America, originally commissioned by SCOBA to create a national, sustainable, and effective media witness for Orthodox Christianity and seekers around the world through media ministry.  CLICK HERE to download our brochure.

This 501(c)3 is recognized as a leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty years. OCN shares the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week. Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure that OCN may continue to offer free, high-quality, Orthodox media.

Do you find it hard to keep focused on Christ when you’re on the go? OCN makes it easy!  Give today to help you and your Orthodox community stay connected no matter the location.

donate now


Spark OCN app is an Orthodox Christian News portal that allows you to take action. Spark provides daily devotions, live Bible study, and you can read and learn about events going on in the Orthodox Christian world, especially those concerning persecuted Christians. In addition to making it easy to share news and articles with friends, Spark allows you make prayer requests for those who are suffering.

Orthodox Prayer Book is the ultimate prayer assistant for Orthodox Christians. Not only does it allow you to carry your prayers around, it was designed from the ground-up for the iPhone to allow you to pray in the least distracting manner possible. Carry all the prayers, information about daily saints and fasting schedules with you throughout your day. Keep a list of people you want to pray for and have them automatically embedded into the prayers.

Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube, Google+, PinterestLinkedIn, and Instagram

About author

Joanne Jamis Cain

Joanne Jamis Cain is a steward of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. She has been married to the love of her life, Jim for thirty five years. They have two beautiful children and two grandchildren. Joanne is a wedding and event planner. Visit her blog at http://katherinesdaughter.com/. Her first book "Ordinary Is Extraordinary" was published in spring of 2016.