Ep 54: How Enabling Hurts More Than Helps!

Helping Vs Enabling

On this episode of Sober Grind, we discuss the fine line and differences of helping vs enabling. Whether you are a parent, friend, or even co worker, when addiction becomes an issue for someone you know, often times enabling does as well. When we see someone we know struggling, we want to help them right? But what does that help look like, and when does helping someone continuously turn into enabling behavior? We hope this article and podcast episode helps answer some of these questions for you.

What is Enabling?

helping vs enabling

Enabling is simply allowing someone to continue something that impacts them negatively,  without feeling the full force of the consequences. Let’s take the case off an enabling parent. You love your child to death, and you would do anything for them. They start using drugs. They use drugs in your house. You tell them THIS IS NOT OK, but they just hide their use better. They get arrested, you bail them out. You pay for their drug rehab program. They leave, and come back to your home. The cycle repeats over and over again. This is a very fine line for many of us, because we want to help our loved ones. Unfortunately this repeated behavior only shows them that no matter how many times they mess up, there are no consequences for their behavior and they can continue to fall back on you. 

Signs Of Enabling Behavior

Facing the harsh reality that you might be enabling your loved ones bad behavior, is a very tough thing to overcome. But by understanding the root causes of what enabling actually is as well as signs of enabling behavior will help you become more aware of your actions. Here are some signs of enabling behavior you may want to pay attention to.

  • Not fully recognizing or downplaying the bad behavior
  • Providing them with finances to support the habit
  • Providing them a “safe” location to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Lying to others about their behavior
  • Rationalizing behavior in your mind or comparing them to others in worse situations
  • Avoidance of the problem entirely

Codependency and Enabling

Enabling behavior is often caused by codependency problems that you may not even be aware of. Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. The great thing to understand however is that codependency and enabling behavior can in fact be dealt with. Addiction truly is a family disease, and everyone including yourself should do their part to remedy the situation. We highly recommend checking out the book Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie.

If we can answer any questions for you regarding enabling behavior or help yourself or loved one with addiction, please give us a call. 

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