Enabling Behaviors: What Families Need to Watch Out For

Enabling Behaviors: What Families Need to Watch Out For

When family members are suddenly faced with the addiction of their loved one, it often becomes a challenging – and stressful – time. We’re not given a “guide” for how to manage this type of situation, so we find ourselves doing the best we can. Of course, nobody wants to see their loved one lose what they’ve worked hard for to drugs and/or alcohol. It’s our inherent love for them that can make us willing to do everything that we can in order to keep them afloat. What we find over time, however, is that despite our attempts to help, our loved ones continue to ask for help – and it can even begin to feel as though we’re being taken advantage of. If this is what you’re currently going through, know that you’re not alone – but you may be surprised to hear that some of what you’re doing may cause more harm than good.

Very Well Mind, a website that covers various topics on psychology, self-improvement disorders and more, explains that enabling is, “Doing things for [the loved one with addiction] that they normally could and would do for themselves if they were sober.”

This should be noted as quite different from helping, which is, “…doing something that the [loved one with addiction] could or would not do for themselves if they were sober.”

Oftentimes, family members get this confused because they believe that paying their bills, calling them in sick to work, or managing their other responsibilities is a way of helping them – but in reality, it only perpetuates the addictive behavior. By protecting your loved one from the consequences of their actions, you’re only showing them that they can continue on the path of addiction because they have someone taking care of them. If you shouldn’t enable them, what should you do?

There are a number of things:

·       Cease doing anything that they could otherwise do if they were sober

·       Stop lying or covering up for them

·       Do not take over their responsibilities

·       Set boundaries and stick to them

·       Urge them to seek help, host an intervention, and offer them support for recovery

If you or your loved one is ready to begin the journey towards restoration of the mind, body and spirit, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Saving Lives; Healing Families.



Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.