What is Enabling and How Can You Stop the Behavior?

This entry was posted in Addiction on by .

When someone you love has an addiction, you can’t just turn off your affection for them. You’ll likely continue to protect them by loaning out money, letting them live with you rent free and making excuses when they mess up. The last thing you want to do is throw them out or give up on them, as something bad could happen and you could lose them forever.

And so, you continue to give and give and give. And the addict takes and takes and takes. It’s a difficult position to be in, so how can you provide your love and support without enabling?

What is Enabling, Exactly?

Enabling happens when your behaviors stop someone from experiencing the consequences of their behaviors. It involves shielding, protecting and downplaying the severity of the choices they’re making.

Enabling is a complicated concept, and you may be doing it without realizing it. After all, what person would want their loved one to continue using drugs or alcohol? Here are some examples of what enabling might look like:

  • Keeping secrets about your loved one’s behaviors to avoid conflict
  • Blaming others for the drug user’s behaviors
  • Bailing out your loved one financially
  • Making threats or ultimatums but not keeping them
  • Putting the addict’s needs first; acting as a caregiver
  • Making excuses when your loved one does wrong

Why Do People Enable Addicts?

Even though enabling is a harmful behavior, it’s usually done out of love. You love and care for your friend or family member and will do anything to save their life and keep them out of trouble. But in order to do this, you end up enabling the addiction, allowing the drug or alcohol use to continue. Therefore, the addict will have no desire to stop.

Another reason why people enable addicts is out of fear. They don’t want something bad to happen, so they end up shielding their loved one from the consequences of their actions. A common example is a parent who doesn’t want their child living on the streets without their basic necessities.

Sadly, though, love cannot cure addiction. Addicts must be held accountable for their choices. When they do feel the consequences of the addiction – no money, no friends, no place to live – they will hopefully feel motivated to change. And when they’re ready to seek drug or alcohol rehab in Arizona, you can be there for them.

Is it Possible to Stop Enabling?

Yes, it is definitely possible to stop this harmful behavior. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but you can slowly start to make changes that will allow your loved one to feel the effects of their actions. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Attend peer support groups like Al-Anon
  • Seek therapy from a counselor
  • Stop making excuses to cover up the behavior
  • Don’t buy drugs or alcohol for the addict
  • Stop paying for the addict’s lifestyle, such as rent or childcare
  • Allow law enforcement to do their job
  • Emphasize the need for drug rehab in AZ

Get Help for Your Loved One

Many people struggle with enabling behaviors. This does not make you a bad person. But it is important to know that you cannot change your loved one. They must be held accountable, and this includes dealing with the consequences of continued drug use.

In the meantime, the best thing you can do is continue to support the need for Arizona rehab. Wolf Creek offers three tracks of care: Phase One, Phase Two and Extended Care. Contact us today to learn more about our therapies and how we can help your family!