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What is Enabling?

Addiction is a disease that affects a sufferer’s family and loved ones. As a response to a loved one’s addiction, a person may attempt to shield them from negative consequences or do other things in an attempt to help the individual that, in reality, only serve to continue or exacerbate their addiction. Enabling behaviors can keep someone suffering from addiction from feeling the need to reach out and seek help.

Enabling behavior may not be recognized by the enabler because they think that they are providing help. According to Dr. Karen Khaleghi in a 2012 Psychology Today article entitled, Are You Empowering or Enabling, “Those who habitually enable dysfunctional behavior are often referred to as co-dependent. It’s a telling word, because an enabler’s self-esteem is often dependent on his or her ability and willingness to ‘help’ in inappropriate ways. This ‘help’ allows the enabler to feel in control of an unmanageable situation. The reality, though, is that enabling not only doesn’t help, but it actively causes harm and makes the situation worse.”

Examples of enabling can include: financial support, justification, avoiding problems, minimizing the situation, protecting against negative consequences, among others. Often guilt is a major factor causing enabling behaviors. In a 2014 Huffington Post article entitled When You Enable an Addict You’re Not Helping, You’re Hurting, Candace Plattor explains, “If you’re like many loved ones, you may mistakenly think that you’re somehow responsible for the addict you love. But you did NOT cause the addiction to happen. You may be contributing to it continuing, but you didn’t cause it. Even though no one chooses to become an addict (in fact, most addicts believe they’re ‘special’ and can handle addictive substances and behaviours without becoming addicted), there always comes a time when addicts know there’s something wrong and that they’re in trouble. It is at this point that they have a choice — to either remain in active addiction or to begin some type of active recovery.” The decision to seek help is the first step toward recovery. Enabling behaviors keep an addicted person from feeling the need to reach out because their behaviors are being quietly supported by others and they are not experiencing the negative consequences necessary to become willing to achieve sobriety.

You do not have to suffer from diminished health as a result of addiction and alcoholism. Recovery is possible, and you can build a happy, healthy future by making the decision to seek help today. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers adult programs for men and women that ensure a safe location where clients can relate to staff and other clients in similar walks of life and learn to rebuild their relationships and roles within their communities. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431