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.


  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham

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