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enablers

How to Deal With an Enabler

Friday, August 13, 2021

Being in substance abuse recovery will require you to change many aspects of your life, especially your relationships. Sometimes, you may need to redefine a friendship or romantic partnership in a way that best benefits your sobriety. Other times, you’ll need to walk away from people who do not support your goals or share your best interests at heart. Healthy boundaries will soon become your first and best line of defense in your ongoing sobriety journey, especially if you have one or more enablers in your life. 

Recognizing Enablers

It can be heartbreaking and bewildering for friends and family members to watch a loved one struggle with substance abuse and self-destruction. People in your life may have taken extreme measures out of a desperate desire to help you get better because they didn’t know what else to do. 

Enabling behavior often begins with someone who loves you and wants to make your life easier. However, through their actions, they may have perpetuated your addiction and allowed it to worsen. For example, perhaps your spouse made polite excuses for you because you were too hungover to go to work, or your friend lent you money for drugs because you were broke. While you may have been grateful for these people’s actions at the time, the simple truth is that they were harming you in the long run by letting your problems slip further out of your control. 

Supporting vs. Enabling

Now that you’re sober, it’s essential to recognize that enablers often do not realize all the negative consequences of their actions. Instead of resenting them for the further damage they caused by “helping,” take steps to compassionately educate them about how to walk the line between supporting and enabling a loved one.

For example, a supporter should not deny the extent of your illness or try to shield you from the consequences of your behavior. While a friend or family member may help pay for treatment or drive you to and from therapy appointments, that is a world apart from paying your bills after you recklessly spent your whole paycheck on drugs or helping you arrange appointments to meet your dealer.

Unlike enablers, supporters set boundaries and do not encourage addictive behavior, either through their actions or lack thereof. Education about what constitutes enabling vs. supporting – without using blaming language – can help former enablers understand how their behavior has the power to affect the dynamics of addiction and what they can do to make a positive change. 

Women’s-Only Recovery and Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Women enter substance abuse treatment with unique needs and challenges that require specific approaches to address. At Canyon Crossing, we understand how essential it is for women to support each other on a challenging journey, and we have created a compassionate environment to encourage you to form new friendships with people who will meet you where you are and help you get where you need to be. Reach out to us today to learn more about recovering in Prescott, Arizona.

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