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5 Enabling Behaviors You Need to Stop Today


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Having a loved one who is struggling with addiction is nothing short of exhausting. You want the best for them, and with it comes a deep sense of responsibility – to provide them with what they need to get through life. Perhaps you’ve loaned your loved one money here and there, knowing very well they were about to spend it all on alcohol or other substances. You may have given them a place to stay, despite many broken promises they would seek treatment. All in all, you just did what you thought you were supposed to do to be considered a good friend or family member – what else can you do? Although helping your loved one through means of money or housing may occur with love and well intentions, these can be forms of enabling and can further promote your loved one’s addiction.

These are 5 enabling behaviors that are causing more harm than good:

  1. Bailing your loved one out of jail. Especially for those with severe addictions, jail can sometimes serve as a sobering reality that your loved one needs to seek help. If you consistently bail them out, you may be missing out on this important opportunity.
  2. Taking care of your loved one’s responsibilities while they pursue their addiction. Helping them run errands, responding to their missed phone calls, and taking care of their responsibilities only shows them they can continue doing whatever they are doing, because you will take care of it.
  3. Making excuses for your loved one and calling their work for them to let their boss know they’re “sick”. In doing this, you are showing them that you will support their addictive patterns of behavior – they don’t have to worry about calling their boss or following up with other responsibilities, because you will do this for them.
  4. Rationalizing your loved one’s behavior for yourself and others. This only perpetuates the cycle of denial – and it may be time to face reality.
  5. Continuing to buy in to your loved one’s false promises of seeking help for themselves by providing them with more of your time and money.

Rather than taking part in these enabling behaviors, set your own boundaries and stick to them. Consider hosting an intervention with a professional from a reputable treatment center so that your loved one can get a grasp on the seriousness of the situation. Previous research has shown that with a professional, 90% of individuals go on to seek treatment afterwards.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.