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Enable refers to the positive act of helping someone accomplish something that could not be done alone. But enabling also refers to the act of helping someone in such a way that rather than solving a problem, it is in fact being perpetuated.
In this view, enabling behavior is any purposeful action or inaction that allows individuals struggling with addiction to continue their bad habits, without assuming any responsibility for the outcome.
When a spouse covers for a partner who is too hungover to go to work, he or she is enabling that behavior. This not only promotes unhealthy behavior, but it can have dire consequences as well.
Signs of Enabling
When you are close to the person struggling with addiction, it can be difficult to accurately assess the role you play in his or her life.
Are you enabling poor choices?
The following are signs that you may be acting as an enabler to a loved one struggling with addiction:
How to Stop Enabling
Enabling sacrifices the long-term happiness of an individual for short term satisfaction. In the end, you can hurt yourself as well as your loved one.
The truth about enabling
Enabling hurts the families of those who struggle with addiction, because it prolongs the addiction and the suffering of everyone involved.
The more someone enables, the more he or she encourages toxic behaviors. This delays the day when treatment can start and recovery can get under way.
Enabling can mean that someone struggling with addiction commands too many resources and attention.
It can mean the family’s budget is in jeopardy, which hurts everyone.
It can mean all the enabler’s attention goes to the one with the addiction problem, while other family members are neglected.
Enabling may seem like a kindness in the moment. However, in reality, it prolongs the process of coming to terms with addiction and finding help to recover.
The best thing you can do for a loved one who is struggling with addiction is to put up boundaries and offer real help.
If you identify enabling behaviors in yourself, take the necessary steps to change your behavior for your own good, as well as the good of the person you care about.