The Difference Between Helping and Enabling

Watching someone you love suffer from addiction is extremely difficult and can even be a very traumatic experience. Because of the love we hold for our close friends and family members, it can be difficult to discern whether our assistance is enabling or helping their recovery process. Sometimes we may excuse certain behaviors from our loved ones if they have a history of negatively reacting to help. Understanding the difference between helpful and enabling behavior will help individuals better assist their loved ones with their journey to recovery.

What is Enabling Behavior?

Enabling someone means doing something for them that they are more than capable of doing for themselves, which prevents them from fully experiencing the impact and consequences of their life choices. Enabling can also mean ignoring certain behaviors that are not conducive to one’s recovery process or their overall well-being. Here are a few examples of enabling behavior:

  • Protecting an addict from the potential consequences of their hazardous actions.
  • Attempting to maintain a peaceful environment by harboring secrets regarding the addict’s behaviors.
  • Protecting an addict by defending or making excuses for their behavior.
  • Bailing the addict out of trouble.
  • Blaming others for the addict’s behavior.
  • Blaming addict’s behavior on their personality, past history, or other illnesses.
  • Avoiding physical contact with an addict in order to maintain a peaceful environment.
  • Providing undeserved financial assistance.
  • Trying to control the addict’s social life by choosing their friends, jobs, and social activities.
  • Taking care of the addict in a way that they should be taking care of themselves.

Helping A Loved One’s Recovery Process

As difficult as it may be, sometimes tough love is the only effective way to help a loved one with their recovery process. Circumstances often get to the point where family members (or other loved ones) have no other choice except to love while practicing detachment. Allowing a loved one to experience the impact of their behavior is the best way to help them because they get to learn firsthand from their own mistakes.

Detaching is more helpful than enabling because it allows family members, friends, and spouses to no longer take responsibility for their loved one’s addiction. Other helpful actions that families can take to assist their loved ones with recovery are attending meetings, setting boundaries, refraining from making excuses, and completely committing to their loved one’s treatment. Family involvement can be an important element in aiding one’s recovery process, but it’s important that families understand the difference between enabling and helping their loved ones.

Discovery Place Treatment Center

The Difference Between Helping and EnablingIf your loved one is suffering from addiction, the best thing to do is to seek help from an appropriate treatment facility. At Discovery Place, we offer various alternative treatment programs to assist our patients with their recovery process. We offer a 30-Day Residential Alternative Program, a Long-Term Alternative Addiction Recovery Program, and other special programs. We even offer a Family Matters workshop to help families understand how they can be of best assistance to their loved ones during their journey. Contact our office today for a free consultation at (800) 725-0922 if you would like more information.

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