When a loved one has an addiction the entire family often spirals into chaos. Family members can feel like they’re walking on eggshells in order to keep the peace at home. Other times, they may feel like they are jumping through hoops to try to “fix” the problem or help their loved one get better. In a confusing and unstable home it’s easy to try anything and everything to solve the problem. Unfortunately, this often results in unhealthy behaviors which makes the problem worse long term. Learning what enabling behavior is and stopping it is key to stopping the turmoil.
As the addiction progresses the sense of what is healthy or “normal” is quickly lost. Family members want to be helpful and supportive in any way they can. However, family members find themselves helping too much as the lines between supporting and enabling become blurred.
Being supportive involves helping, advocating for, or assisting someone. It is healthy and allows the natural consequences of their actions to occur. The line to enabling is crossed when someone starts covering up for, bailing out, or preventing an addict from experiencing their consequences.
Examples of enabling include
- Making excuses for them (i.e. calling out of work for them)
- Blaming other for their behavior
- Providing extreme or unnecessary financial support
- Bailing them out of trouble (hiring lawyers, paying their fines)
- Taking on their responsibilities
- Not following through on set consequences
Making the change from enabling to supporting is challenging and can feel uncomfortable can cause stress. For many people it feels like having to take a “tough love” approach with their loved one. It hurts to see your loved one in pain especially if they try to make you to feel that you are causing it or making it worse.
Learning the difference between healthy supporting and enabling can literally be a matter of life and death. Making the change from enabling to helping can help put a stop to loving someone to death and allowing their self-destructive behavior to continue. It is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your loved one, and the rest of your family.
If you would like to learn more about stopping enabling behavior or our other addiction family support services please call us at (201)488-6678 or visit our website at https://www.specializedtherapy.com