When someone you know and love struggles with addiction, it is natural to want to help them. However, many family members and other close individuals to the person struggling often help in ways that enable the addiction rather than get them out of it. Understanding the difference between enabling and helping can help you give your loved ones the proper care they need to overcome addiction and live a happy life of sobriety.

What is Enabling?

Enabling can be defined as engaging in the actions and responsibilities of others that they should be doing themselves. It often allows the individual to continue engaging in harmful behaviors because you are picking up their slack rather than allowing them to face the consequences of their actions. Even when you have the best intentions of helping your loved one, you can still engage in enabling behavior.

Common enabling behaviors include:

  • Making excuses for the person (such as with employers, legal authorities, friends, family members, etc.)
  • Avoiding the person, so you don’t have to face the truth
  • Blaming others for the decisions of the person struggling
  • Continually helping them out of trouble (paying fines, hiring lawyers, etc.)
  • Giving them money whenever they ask
  • Setting boundaries but not upholding them
  • Protecting the person from the consequences of their behavior
  • Assuming the role of caretaker for the person
Helping Instead of Enabling

If you find yourself engaging in any of the above behaviors, it is crucial to take a step back and realize you are enabling your loved one to continue with their addiction. To stop enabling them and begin helping them, you need to allow them to face the consequences of their actions. While this can be difficult, it will help the person realize that they need to get help.

Other ways to help your loved one in addiction include:

  • Educating yourself on addiction
  • Listening to the person when they need to talk
  • Encourage the individual to seek treatment
  • Support them while in recovery
  • Set and uphold healthy boundaries
  • Go to family therapy
  • Spend time together doing sober activities
  • Don’t use substances around them

Many loved ones of individuals struggling with addiction find themselves trying to help in ways that actually enable the addiction. This can cause the person’s addiction to worsen over time as they believe they can continue using with no consequences. Learning how to help your loved ones rather than enable them will help them realize the harmful effects of their addiction. If you or someone you know is currently struggling, contact Alta Loma Transformational Services today at (866) 457-3843. We can help your family get the healing it needs.