The Differences Between Helping and Enabling

Mom, dad, and older sister holding newborn baby

We understand if it's very difficult for you to sit by and watch your loved one have to deal with an addiction. It's only natural to want to do what you can to provide them with a helping hand. Still, you have to proceed with caution because you don't want to end up caught up as a codependent person who does more harm than good.

Enabling Behaviors

Ignoring Negative Behavioral & Physical Changes

When it comes to substance abuse and addiction, there are certain behavioral and physical changes that commonly occur. While these are typically a cause for concern for loved ones, others may turn a blind eye to these negative changes or even be in denial about them altogether.

This can be particularly detrimental because by ignoring the issue at hand, you're silently condoning the behaviors bringing on these changes.

Prioritizing the Addicted Person's Needs Over Your Own

When caring for a loved one that is struggling with substance abuse and addiction, it is common for those who care about them to prioritize the needs of the addict over their own. Typically this is in an attempt to remain close and maintain control over the situation, but it only complicates things and creates an unhealthy and codependent dynamic. Ultimately, the more the addicted person struggles, the more the caretaker will struggle.

Hiding the Addicted Person's Behaviors

It's common for enablers to find themselves taking on the role of caretakers for their addicted loved ones to the point where they make excuses for their behavior. In many instances, they may find themselves calling schools, employers, and friends to make excuses for why the addict has fallen short. This fosters a false sense of protection from societal backlash rather than addressing the problem head-on.

Trouble Talking About Their Feelings

For those struggling with codependency issues and who have enabling behavioral patterns, it can make it difficult to not only express their feelings but identify them in the first place. There has been such an emphasis on 'fixing" their addicted loved one that they lose sight of their own emotional wellbeing.

Helping Behaviors

Once you've been able to identify enabling behaviors, the easier it will be to nip them in the bud and turn to more helpful and constructive ones.

While the methods of helping a loved one who is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction may seem counterintuitive, they come from a place of love and help addicted persons to find the strength to get the help they need.

Here are some basic steps to help you help the person you love to overcome addiction:

  • Remember that addiction is a disease that affects the brain.
  • Set your own personal boundaries with your addicted loved one.
  • Encourage them to seek professional treatment.
  • Remember that addiction is a lifelong condition that requires management.
  • Seek counseling for your own mental health and wellness.
  • Support your loved one's decision to be sober.
  • Be optimistic that sobriety is attainable.
  • Be patient with your loved one and with yourself.

Contact Decision Point Center for Family Therapy Options

At Decision Point Center, we understand that one's loved ones are an integral part of the treatment and recovery process. That's why we offer family therapy so that the family members can learn how to best support their loved ones while avoiding enablement.

"I'm glad we came and participated. We especially appreciated the separate one-on-one counseling session after hours. As tough as it was, it was a real eye-opener. Thank you for being here!" - Testimonial

If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, contact us today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you play an active and healthy role in your loved one's recovery!

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