As a loved one of a person struggling with addiction, it is important to identify enabling behavior you might be showing. Enabling has the effect of releasing the enabled person from having to take responsibility for his or her behavior. Enabling means that someone else will always fix, solve, or make the consequences go away. When someone is in the throes of an addiction or other grossly dysfunctional behavior pattern, he or she begins to rely on the resources available. Enabled persons will come to expect that their behaviors are disconnected from consequences or negative outcomes. Enabled persons may even begin to hold their enabling family members in “emotional hostage” in order to keep this pattern going.

In addition to ending enabling behaviors, it is also important to encourage your loved one to get treatment. Rather than enabling their addiction, look for ways that you can offer assistance, support, and empowerment. For example, you might help them access treatment and recovery resources by offering to take them to the doctor or drive them to appointments.

Finding ways to empower your loved one instead of enabling them can help them work toward recovering from their addiction. Oftentimes, when a loved one is ill or in recovery, it’s difficult to find a balance between providing support and giving space. You may even find yourself struggling with the desire to control their behaviors. A sign of enabling behavior is to put someone else’s needs before yours, particularly if the other person isn’t actively contributing to the relationship.

You probably realize that purchasing alcohol for someone who is misusing it is clearly enabling—but what about giving them money? If you’re offering financial support to a person who is misusing alcohol, you may find it’s not much different than if you bought the alcohol for them. If your loved one has lost their driver’s license due to their alcohol use, giving them a ride to an A.A.

  1. There are strategies that friends and family may wish to pursue.4 For starters, individual counseling and family counseling can be beneficial.
  2. When a codependent person does not regularly express their feelings, they can have a hard time recognizing where the line between the other person’s emotions ends and theirs begins.
  3. Enabling usually refers to patterns that appear in the context of drug or alcohol misuse and addiction.
  4. For the loved ones of people with an alcohol or substance use disorder, sometimes this isn’t easy.

Its scary because your loved one is out of your control and probably making some pretty bad and risky choices. Unfortunately, you are powerless to prevent harm from happening. Nothing that you do or dont do can save your loved one or force him/her to make better choices. This is an obvious red flag that their alcohol or drug use is affecting you enough to cause pain, and they are unwilling to change their substance use. Talk to family members or loved ones about your concerns, and consider attending Al-Anon or another support group where everyone shares similar experiences and everything is kept confidential. You may also find that some problems can linger even after treatment.

Recognizing enabling behaviors in oneself or in others is the first step towards creating a healthier environment for someone struggling with addiction. It’s important to understand the fine line between supporting and enabling. Many times when family and friends try to “help” people with alcohol use disorders, they are actually making it easier for them to continue in the progression of the disease. It can take many forms, all of which have the same effect—allowing the individual to avoid the consequences of their actions. If you think your actions might enable your loved one, consider talking to a therapist. In therapy, you can start identifying enabling behaviors and get support as you learn to help your loved one in healthier ways.

Most people who enable loved ones don’t intend to cause harm. You may try to help with the best of intentions and enable someone without realizing it. Over time it can have a damaging effect on your loved one and others around them. It’s difficult for someone to get help if they don’t fully see the consequences of their actions.

First is recognizing that you’re contributing to a cycle of enabling. That is, accept that you’ve played a part in perpetuating unacceptable behaviors in your loved one and make a commitment to breaking the cycle. Once you realize that you are not helping but are actually enabling a loved one who is misusing alcohol, you is acid addictive may have no idea how to stop. Codependent relationships can occur at any point in one’s life and in any type of relationship dynamic. Nonetheless, it is typically rooted in negative childhood experiences. A childhood surrounded by a dysfunctional family may experience a variety of codependency problems in adulthood.

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Confronting your own enabling behaviors can improve your own mental and emotional well-being. In these moments, it can be hard not to feel compelled to do something. We sometimes reflexively feel like we have to give money or some other non-specific form of “bail.” But after a time or two, you simply become the ATM (or the dog house, or life raft).

Sacrificing or struggling to recognize your own needs

First, educate yourself about the biological and psychological elements of addiction and learn about the various available addiction treatment options. Enabling is essentially love turned to fear, and help turned to control. With a solid understanding of what enabling is, and what it is not, there is hope for families who are acting out this pattern. An experienced individual and/or family counselor can be a valuable source of support for anyone who is looking to break enabling patterns. You must accept that while your enabling behaviors come from a place of love, enabling is an ineffective way of solving problems at best; debilitating to all involved at worst. You may buy another day or prevent another emergency, but in the end, you are only postponing the real solution.

How to Stop Enabling an Alcoholic

Defining the problem, creating boundaries, and making tough choices are a few tactics that can help you stop enabling. Not only does this positively reinforce good behaviors but also strengthens the trust between you. It gives them permission to feel good about themselves, which is probably not easy for them if they’ve been struggling with unhealthy behaviors for a while.

However, it can apply to any type of behavior within a relationship that supports and maintains a harmful behavior pattern. Put simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which the individual can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior. Learning how to recognize the signs of enabling can help loved ones curb this tendency and deal with the problem rather than avoiding it.

Do Not Be Afraid to Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

Your loved one may show signs of denial, where they refuse they have a problem with alcohol or other drugs. Or they may have decided that their drinking or drug use “is what it is” and are unwilling to change. Rather than allowing a person to face the natural consequences of addiction, a person in a codependent relationship will try to shield their loved one from consequences—and enable them in the process. Even though you keep finding ways to protect your loved one from the consequences of their alcohol or substance use, your resentment for having to do things may continue to build. This can lead to feelings of anger and irritability, which can interfere with your health and relationships. Enabling is often used in the context of alcohol or drug use.

It’s most often an intimate partner or close friend who passively and unknowingly encourages negative behaviors to continue. They could say they’ve only tried drugs once or twice but don’t use them regularly. You reassure them you aren’t concerned, that they don’t drink that much, or otherwise deny there’s an issue. People dealing with addiction or other patterns of problematic behavior often say or do hurtful or abusive things. They might insult you, belittle you, break or steal your belongings, or physically harm you.

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