Enabling Behaviors

How to Break the Enabling Behaviors You Provide

Are you empowering your loved one to stay afloat? Or, are your enabling behaviors allowing their alcoholism or drug seeking behavior to continue? Parents want to help their kids, friends want to offer support, but often the very things that people think are helping this person towards recovery are pushing them further away.

If you’re watching yourself ignore behavior that you find unacceptable, then you might be an enabler. Additionally, if you’re putting aside your own needs or goals to help someone else, then you’re probably an enabler.

Money and Financial Support

Providing money or financial support to an adult is one of the largest enabling behaviors. Even paying for something such as housing to ensure that someone is not on the streets could prevent them from hitting that “bottom” that’s usually a large part of seeking recovery.

If you’re looking for ways to help someone who can’t financially support themselves then you need to start questioning what meaningful action you can take. Will helping them find a job be meaningful? Why aren’t they seeking employment on their own? Are the genuinely in a bad financial situation and need help or are they using you to redistribute their own spending on drugs?

To stop providing financial support then you should start by cutting back. You don’t need to provide groceries for them, pay rent, or keep their utilities on. An adult should be fully capable of providing for themselves unless they have a recognized disability.

Make It Easy to Say No

Many tricks and tips for enablers revolve around making it easy to shut the door or to say “no.” With the many different restrictions and limitations that we can put on our phones now this is becoming easier.

On your smart phone you can restrict the number of times that someone may call you in a row, block them through certain times of the day such as when you’re at work or trying to rest at home.

Set Clear Rules on Communication

When is it okay for them to contact you? When they’re sober? How will they prove it? Can they contact you at home, or on your cell phone? Are they allowed to call you at work? Set clear boundaries. If someone is newly out of treatment then it’s likely that you’re both on your own paths to recovery.

You’re trying to set healthy boundaries around communication and they’re trying to rebuild your trust. Rules on communication can help both of you set boundaries, build trust, and stop enabling behaviors. Explain that you are available at certain times, and under certain conditions.

If there’s any deviance from these rules make sure that you keep up with your bottom line or the consequence that you said would happen.

Attend Meetings Regularly

It’s always recommended that those affected by addiction make their way to a group meeting, usually a 12-step meeting as they’re always free to attend and should be welcoming to visitors who aren’t in recovery.

Attending meetings can expose how similar enabling behaviors have helped others continue their addiction before seeking help. It’s also a great way to learn how the manipulative nature of addiction changes people’s behaviors. You’ll meet people who are nice, years into recovery, and still have histories of exploiting their enablers. But the point is that the enabler in their stories participated.

Stop Pleading and Stop Rescuing

Perhaps the biggest way that people impact their addicted friends or family members is through begging and rescuing. Does this sound familiar, “If only you could stop doing this, then things would be good again, please stop.” More people than would care to admit have found themselves saying something similar.

Stop asking, begging, or pleading. You’ll need to break that connection where you make it seem as if they owe you a sober person.

Another element is rescuing. Stop bailing out or paying fines for the person in your life. Let them feel the full extent of their consequences within the law.

Become Part of the Outpatient Process, and Learn to Recognize Enabling Behaviors

Many adults who are friends of addicts don’t know where to start. They may not realize that they’ve contributed to the addiction in an impactful way. The good thing here is that you can start changing that behavior.

Get involved and learn how you can affect the people in your life at our North Carolina rehab facility. If you know that someone in your life is struggling with addiction you can work with counselors to get that person in your life the help they need.