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Breaking the Cycle: How to Stop Enabling and Start Empowering


It is maddening! You really want your loved one to get their stuff together, but they wont listen. Then they ask you to do something, promise to do better or swear that they are done - so you meet the demand - only to see things get worse, the tension greater, and the solution further and further away.

It is not "your fault" that your person is in this position, however, it may be your responsibility to find a way out for the rest of the family. You know you want to be able to save yourself from the torture of lies, failed promisies and the other concominant parts of an enabled addict/parent relationship.

When a loved one is struggling with addiction, it's natural to want to help them in every way possible. However, well-intentioned actions can sometimes enable (provide a path to greater harm) the addiction, making it harder for the individual to take responsibility for their recovery.

Understanding and breaking enabling behaviors can empower both you and your loved one. This article will discuss the top three enabling actions and offer a three-step solution to counteract the urge to enable.

Top Three Enabling Actions

  1. Financial Support:

  • Continuously giving money to a loved one struggling with addiction can inadvertently fund their substance use. This financial support can delay their decision to seek help and take responsibility for their actions.

  1. Covering Up or Making Excuses:

  • Protecting your loved one from the consequences of their actions by making excuses for their behavior or covering up their mistakes can prevent them from experiencing the real-world consequences that are crucial for recovery.

  1. Taking Over Responsibilities:

  • Handling all responsibilities, such as paying bills, managing their schedule, or taking care of their daily tasks, can hinder their ability to develop self-respect and independence.

Three-Step Solution to Counteract Enabling

  1. Set Clear Boundaries:

  • Establishing and maintaining clear boundaries is essential. Communicate openly with your loved one about what you are willing and not willing to do. For example, you might say, "I love you and want to support your recovery, but I can no longer give you money. I am here to help you find treatment options instead."

  1. Encourage Responsibility:

  • Encourage your loved one to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Allow them to face the natural consequences of their behavior. This might mean letting them handle their own finances, even if it leads to temporary discomfort. Remember, experiencing real-world consequences can be a powerful motivator for change.

  1. Seek Support for Yourself: Use HOPE, the Intelliegnt Recovery Assistant on website. You can ask for help with changing the enabling to a powerful and more helpful position. Just give this a try. Chat with Hope

  • Taking care of your own well-being is crucial. Join a support group for families of individuals with addiction, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. These groups provide a safe space to share experiences, gain insights, and receive emotional support. Additionally, consider seeking professional counseling to help you navigate your emotions and develop healthy coping strategies.

To Sum It All Up

Breaking the cycle of enabling is challenging but essential for both you and your loved one. By setting clear boundaries, encouraging responsibility, and seeking support for yourself, you can empower your loved one to take charge of their recovery journey. Remember, enabling may feel like helping, but true support involves fostering independence and self-respect.

Stay positive and take care.

Here are some biblical references can provide spiritual guidance and support for countering enabling behaviors. These Bible verses offer wisdom and encouragement:

  1. Proverbs 22:6:

  • "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it."

  • This verse emphasizes the importance of guiding children towards the right path and allowing them to learn and grow independently.

  1. Galatians 6:5:

  • "For each one should carry their own load."

  • This verse encourages personal responsibility and the importance of allowing individuals to manage their own burdens, which is crucial in countering enabling behaviors.

  1. Ephesians 6:4:

  • "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

  • This verse highlights the balance between providing guidance and allowing children to face the consequences of their actions, fostering growth and responsibility.

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