Addiction Recovery - Enabling Addictive Behavior
Enabling a loved one to do something may not be in their best interest, or yours. This may come as a surprise, since we usually think of making something possible for someone a good thing!
But, in dysfunctional families, “enabling” means giving “help” that actually makes the situation worse. Examples of this include:
- Calling in “sick” for the addict whenever they miss work because they are drunk or high. “Covering” for them may feel like helping them not to lose their job. But long term, it only reinforces the addictive behavior, and leads away from the possibility of recovery.
- Giving them money. Even if it's as little as $5.00, the addict's mental state is guided by alcohol and drugs, so whether they claim the money is going to food, shelter or bills, it is likely feeding their next high. You essentially become their drug dealer.
- Cleaning up their mess. This can refer to empty alcohol bottles, disheveled living situations or vomit from excessive alcohol and drug abuse. Whatever the mess may be, if you clean it up for your loved one struggling with addiction, you are merely reinforcing the idea that whatever mistakes they make while intoxicated will go away without consequence.
Enabling behavior can be subtle, or it can be so strong and active that it affects the overall mental health of the family group. Remember, each family member plays a role within the family and in the addiction. Enabling is only one role and not everyone is an enabler. Many people don’t recognize that they are an enabler because it can be painful to make this realization.
After exploring this section of RecoveredFamily.com you may realize that you or someone else may actually be enabling the addict or alcoholic member of the family.
It is important not to blame yourself!
Understanding exactly what enabling is, and learning ways to recognize enabling behavior is an important first step in helping you and your family.
Use RecoveredFamily.com to educate yourself. You’ll find out how parenting styles play a role, where enabling starts, exactly how enabling behavior affects not only the addict, but the whole family and ways to change enabling behaviors.
If you have questions, or are ready to seek treatment for you or your loved one, contact us, we're here to help!