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Acceptance or Enabling? How to Know the Difference and Make Positive Changes


Acceptance or Enabling? How to Know the Difference and Make Positive Changes

Family members and friends of loved ones struggling with addiction often face their own inner battle. It is difficult for parents and peers to witness the suffering of a loved one. The most compassionate hearts of those who are on the sidelines want to do anything they can to help, but it can easily cross the line from acceptance to enabling. Learn how to know the difference and make some positive shifts that will be healthier for all people involved.

Seven Habits That Help

Acceptance is just one habit of caring for people in difficult circumstances. There are also elements of trust, support, encouragement, listening, negotiating differences, and respect that come alongside acceptance of a behavior. The opposite of these habits can essentially destroy relationships. Friends, family, and loved ones refuse to accept negative behaviors often for this reason, because they feel they lack empathy if they do not help them. There is a difference between acceptance and enabling, a behavior which may have negative consequences for everyone involved.

Roots of Enabling

Enabling behavior is destructive, a pattern which resembles acceptance and other caring habits. Contrary to appearance, enabling is not true love. It is, in fact, anti-love because it ultimately serves to keep people locked inside of addiction. Enabling behavior includes:

  • Supporting, encouraging, and accepting destructive behavior
  • Repeatedly listening to chronic bouts of victimization
  • Trusting behavior will change regardless of patterns showing otherwise

Finding Acceptance

The only healthy way to practice acceptance with a person addicted to drugs and alcohol is to avoid enabling. The problem is much bigger than the individual and professional help is usually required to help them get their lives back on track again. Rather than accepting the individual’s destructive behavior, self-care is necessary by setting personal boundaries to protect against dysfunction. It is an act of love toward an individual in addiction to hold them accountable and support their journey of healing and recovery. Acceptance may take some time to get to but in the end is the most healthy, loving thing a family member or friend can do in accepting the person is dealing with addiction and needs more help than you can provide on your own. There is no shame in reaching out for extra support in dealing with a loved one’s addiction. It may be the most honoring thing a loved one can do to help them find their way to recovery.

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 844-467-0267 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.