Enabling Behaviors in Alcoholic Families

When you love or care about someone, you don’t want to see this person hurt. Whether emotionally or physically, you do not want to see them suffer and would do anything to prevent them from being so. This is understandable and normal in a family, spousal or dear friend setting. When that person you love and care for is an alcoholic, there is a line that is, innocently, often crossed between helping and enabling.

Enabling Behaviors in Alcoholic Families

How Enabling an Alcoholic Works

Many times when family and friends try to “help” alcoholics, they are making it easier for them to continue in the progression of the disease. This baffling phenomenon is called enabling, which takes many forms, all of which have the same effect—allowing the alcoholic to avoid the consequences of his actions. Enabling allows the alcoholic to continue merrily along with his or her drinking ways, secure in the knowledge that no matter how much he screws up, somebody will always be there to rescue him from his mistakes.

Does Family Enable Alcoholics to Continue Drinking?

Only when he is forced to face the consequences of his actions, will it finally begin to sink in how deep his problem has become. So you may have realized you have been enabling and don’t know what to do now or how to stop. This is a very tough decision to make because you don’t want to hurt him or her but realize this; you are hurting them if you don’t stop the enabling. First, you want to ask yourself, if the alcoholic could do what you are doing if they were not using? Here are a couple of ways where you can start helping and stop enabling:

  • Do not allow the alcoholic to continue their current lifestyle – Are you paying any bills that the alcoholic could be paying himself or herself? They may have lost their job due to their addiction and will continue to use and not be in any hurry in finding another one if they don’t have to pay bills or rent due to you enabling and paying for them. The alcoholic needs to experience this consequence due to his or her addiction.
  • Do not do things for the alcoholic that they could do themselves – Maybe the alcoholic had their car repossessed and doesn’t have a ride to a job interview or an AA meeting. Giving him or her a ride to or from is helping because this is something they cannot do on his or her own. Enabling is looking up the meeting schedule or searing in the want ads for jobs which the alcoholic is capable all by their self.
  • Let the alcoholic experience his or her consequences from their actions – He or she may get arrested and go to jail for actions of their addiction. Do not bail and/or pay their fines. This will only allow the alcoholic to not fully take on their consequence.

There are many ways to which you could be enabling that can be extremely difficult to quit. Know that no matter what you do, you cannot control what another person does, but you can control what you do. You can control what goes on in your life and what boundaries to set for what is acceptable or not. While trying to not enable any further, it is a good idea to get support from others that are going through this. Al-Anon and Families Anonymous are support groups that deal with families and addicts.

Drinking Problem Help at Evoke Wellness MA

If you or a loved one has a drinking problem, start healing in a treatment center you can fully trust. At Evoke Wellness Massachusetts, our primary goal is to make your treatment experience as comfortable and rewarding as possible. That’s why our team consists of licensed addiction professionals with decades of experience in the field.

To get started on your journey of recovery and finally move past the vicious, cyclical devastation of active addiction, give us a call today. Our goal is to make recovery a thoroughly enjoyable and stress-free experience and pave the way for lifelong, substance-free living.

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