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Understanding Helping vs Enabling

Trying to help a loved one seek treatment can feel daunting. Commonly, you may find yourself worrying about how to help them. What should you say? How do I keep them safe? It is understandable that you want to protect your loved one, but sometimes that protection can go too far. For example, being too protective of your loved one can lead to enabling. Learning how to limit enabling behaviors can be vital for your loved one’s ability to achieve and sustain sobriety.

What Is Enabling Behavior?

According to the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), enabling behavior occurs when you do things that may make it easier for your loved one to continue using or prevent them from facing the consequences of their use. Listed below are some examples of enabling behavior:

  • Giving them money
  • Paying their bills
  • Lying for them
  • Ignoring substance use
  • Justifying behavior
  • Denying there is a problem
  • Trying to control them
  • Using substances with them

By enabling your loved one’s substance use, you may be preventing them from recognizing the consequences of their actions.

Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

When you stop enabling your loved one, you can truly start working toward helping them find support for their recovery. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to helping your loved one seek treatment. However, there are some ways you can offer them support without enabling them. Listed below are some ways you can start a conversation with your loved one about their substance use:

  • Select a location:
    • Private
    • Nonjudgmental
    • Loving environment
  • Foster healthy communication:
    • Openness
    • Direct
  • Utilize compassion:
    • Help them find and connect with support resources
    • Be present
    • Listen actively
    • Acknowledge their feelings
  • Prioritize self-care:
    • Take time for you
    • Manage your stress
  • Practice patience:
    • It is a marathon, not a sprint
    • Keep reaching out

The Power of Family in Recovery

As noted in an article from Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, family and other support members play an important role in a successful recovery process. When you actively cope with your loved one in recovery, you help model healthier thinking and behavior patterns. Some examples of ways you can actively cope with your loved one include:

  • Decrease negative and controlling behavior
  • Increase positive and problem-solving communication
  • Reinforce positive behavior changes
  • Increase positive activities together
  • Reduce your substance use with them

At The Guest House, we believe the role of the family can be an invaluable tool in your loved one’s recovery. We are committed to providing an individualized family program that meets the needs of the whole family, including private intensive workshops. When your loved one comes to us at The Guest House, they are family entering a safe space where the whole person will be loved and cared for. Our commitment to holistic care gives us the space to offer different therapeutic modalities that are both multidimensional and personalized to your loved one’s needs on their journey to healing.

Enabling behaviors can prevent your loved one from recognizing the consequences of their SUD and encourage them to keep using substances. However, with support resources, you can learn how to stop enabling. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to recovery, having a strong support system can be invaluable for your loved ones healing. At The Guess House, we believe in the power of healthy support systems. With our individualized family program and private workshops, we can work as a team to support your loved one’s long-term recovery. Call us today at (855) 483-7800 to learn more.