What is Enabling Behavior?
Enabling occurs when friends or family of an addict are actively enmeshed with the addict’s substance use disorder and attempt to micromanage the condition. While enablers are often seen as people with malicious intent who want to bring others down with them, the truth is that most enablers—and most enabling behaviors come from people who genuinely care about the addict.
Examples of Enabling Behavior: Denial
There are many causes for enabling behaviors to surface, but the most common reason for enabling behavior is denial. For many people, it’s not entirely clear when a proclivity becomes an addiction. What’s the difference between someone who really likes to drink and someone who is addicted to alcohol? While many people would agree that it’s when it becomes an uncontrollable urge that causes self-destructive behavior, that’s where you draw the line. The issue is that there is a significant lag time between those behaviors manifesting and those close to the addict coming to grips with them. This is why addiction is often seen as the elephant in the room. Many people can recognize the signs of addiction, it’s just difficult to accept that your friend or family member is an addict.
Caring More About Reputation Than Recovery
As much as we’d like to say it isn’t so, there are many families who attempt to cover up a family member’s addiction because they do not want to tarnish their family image within their circle of friends and other families. This is one of the worst types of enabling because it is socially reinforced by many people and often combines many aspects of other enabling behaviors such as denial.
Not only does reputation management greatly delay any kind of recovery for the addict, but it also creates a highly toxic environment that often does lead to overdosing and/or death. This is a tragic situation that happens to many people, as they are addicted and require help, and the people around them impart nothing but further shame and guilt which reinforces using behaviors in the addict. This leads many addicts to be pushed into even greater levels of danger with their substance abuse than they likely would have alone.
Misguided compassion manifests itself as friends and family members of the addict attempting to help the addicted person with day to day tasks which they should be able to do by themselves. The person helping mistakenly believes that they’re alleviating some stress or burden from the addict’s life which will help them get on their feet. It almost never works out this way though, in most cases, the addict is made less accountable and experiences fewer consequences for their addiction because other people pick up the pieces of their life that would ordinarily serve as indicators that things are going south for them.
Addiction Consulting in Virginia
Addiction is not just something affects the person addicted. It affects their friends and family as well. If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, get in touch with our addiction counseling specialists at Recovery Care Partner. Our team of highly experienced specialists has helped hundreds of people get on the path to sobriety. We also offer consulting for family members and subsequently, intervention services for a loved one. Give us a call at (240)-206-6324 or get in touch with us on our contact page so you or a friend/family member can be on their way to a healthier lifestyle!