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How to Know the Signs of Enabling Behavior and Put a Stop to It

When someone enables a loved one, they may not realize the behavior is happening until much later, if at all. Sometimes, in recovery, families can walk through together and do therapy to understand the mechanisms of addiction but realize they’ve enabled someone’s addiction rather than helping them seek treatment. The challenge is to realize enabling behavior is destructive to everyone involved and must be stopped. Here are some tips to recognize the behavior and how to get a handle on it for the better.

How Enabling Works

Loved ones and friends often try to step in when they see someone they care about struggling with addiction. They may not realize what they are doing at the time, but enabling behavior actually allows the person to continue what they are doing rather than stop. It might mean making excuses for them, offering reasons why they show up late or leave early from functions and events, or completely miss them altogether. Some other behaviors can include paying money for rent or expenses on a regular basis, using drugs with that person, or hiding their use from others to ‘keep the secret safe’ for them. Any of these behaviors, and more, can come from a place of love initially, but they only serve one purpose. The focus shifts to supporting them in addiction rather than recovery.

Key Parts of Healing

Everyone has a stake in healing from addiction. There are times when someone needs to step away from their journey and experiences to see where they are in the moment. If it is not working as they intended or is doing the opposite of making things better, then it may be time to reassess. Part of healing from addiction is learning to recognize behaviors like enabling and accepting the willingness to do something about it. Here are some of the ways to do that:

  • Have boundaries: prioritize self-care and the message that people’s addictive behavior is harmful and must stop. Don’t let that loved one walk all over everyone by asking for money time and again, crashing on the couch when they keep losing jobs or getting bailed out of jail over and over
  • Recognize codependency: codependency is when a person feels they will get what they desire (love and security) but it is dependent on taking care of that person (enabling the addiction). If they know that person will be more loving toward them if they keep paying their rent because they fall behind when they spend the money on substance use, that is codependent (and enabling) behavior
  • Making excuses: letting the person know what they are doing is okay, even if it is not verbally said, can be detrimental to the healing journey of recovery for everyone. For instance, telling them it is okay that they continue not following through on their word or showing up when they say they will due to substance use, this can create painful relationship discord for everyone involved

Stopping the Behavior

One of the best ways to stop the behavior is to seek treatment. This means holistic, family treatment and therapy that gets everyone involved. Addiction is not just one person. It can affect so many people from friends to family members, there is no person untouched by addiction. Keeping open lines of communication is important along with finding the right support. Treatment may seem like it will not work but if the person feels supported, it is more likely to stick. This leaves more room to focus on recovery and healing.

The Guest House Ocala doesn’t want people to feel they can come to treatment and be done with the journey or feel alone going forward. We are here to partner with you as you take the next steps forward. We will support you as you grow in recovery, and your family, with the support of all those who love you. Call us to find out how to get started: 1-855-483-7800