Posted on September 8, 2017 by Origins Behavioral HealthCare
The concept of enabling sounds straightforward, yet it’s often incredibly hard to distinguish between helping, supporting, and enabling. When addiction is a factor, enabling refers to allowing the addicted person to avoid the consequences of their behavior.
People suffering from addiction or alcoholism often make promises to stop using or drinking. They may even intend to keep their promises. Unfortunately, real addicts and alcoholics will be unable to do so as a result of the neurobiological disease of addiction. All may even go well for a time. Then something else happens: The person doesn’t show up for work; they fail to stay on top of their bills; they land themselves in legal trouble. When this happens, many people with addictions look for someone that will bail him out. This person is often close to the user.
Oftentimes, families do not recognize all the things that have changed within the eroded landscape of the family system until a major catalyst event takes place (i.e. legal repercussions, overdose, etc.).
Enablers often think they are helping the person when they are actually supporting the addiction. As the behavior continues, the enabler may feel the need to control every situation, often at great cost to their well-being. The result is that the substance user often continues to drink or use. In turn, the enabler continues to suffer. Enabling behavior is harmful to the enabler, mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
Simply put, enabling shields people from experiencing the full impact and consequences of their behavior. Enabling is different from helping and supporting in that it allows the enabled person to be irresponsible. Since enabling discourages alcohol and drug users from addressing the problem with professional help, it can lead to situations that cause physical, mental, and psychological harm.
Family counseling is an absolutely vital link in the treatment of those with substance use disorders. When families are courageous enough to engage in the difficult task of family counseling, the changes can be extensive and beneficial. Family counseling can not only breathe new life into the family system, it also significantly impacts the recovery process for the person struggling with a substance use disorder.
As enablers recognize ways in which they have neglected their own life and needs, they explore why they feel compelled to help compulsively. 12-Step support can offer support and a model for life with boundaries and enabling behavior reduction. Local 12-Step meetings may include Al-Anon or Alateen support as well as ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics).
Call the “life’s got to get better” people at 844-843-8935.