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6 Signs of Enabling Behavior

6 Signs of Enabling Behavior

When others bring up a loved one’s addiction, an enabler will choose to defend them instead of recognizing the problem

Having a loved one in Des Moines who is an addict can be very difficult to manage effectively. If you are not careful, you may end up enabling the poor choices. Before identifying some of the signs of enabling behavior, it is important to have a working definition of the term. A classic definition of enabling is to remove the natural consequences of an addict’s behavior. Instead of allowing him to face the results of his choices, the enabler takes on the responsibility and the pain. Although this is almost always done out of love, the result of enabling is the continuance of addictive behavior.

What Are Some Signs of Enabling Behavior?

Although this list is not exhaustive, the following are six common signs of an individual who is acting as an enabler for a loved one that is an addict:

  1. Making excuses – The enabler will often choose to make excuses for his loved one. The excuses might sound like, “he is just slow to grow up,” or “he can stop his drug use whenever he wants.” The key is that when others bring up this person’s addiction, you choose to defend her instead of recognizing the problem.
  2. Setting boundaries only to break them later – Boundaries are a key component of any health relationship but are especially important within an addiction. An enabler will regularly set boundaries, only to remove them when their loved one crosses the boundaries. One example would be stating that you refuse to let your unemployed daughter stay in the home while she is using drugs only to cave when she cries after coming home high.
  3. Allowing abuse – Abuse should never be tolerated or excused on any level. Unfortunately, one of the primary indicators of an enabler is physical or psychological abuse. If an addict is abusing you, no matter how much you love them, you have to get away..
  4. Giving money indiscriminately – Another sign of an enabling relationship is when you give your loved one money without any expectations. He can ask for $200 and promise to pay it back, but he doesn’t return it. Then, two weeks later, he might ask for another $50 saying he just needs it to get through until his next paycheck. If this is a pattern, the odds are that you are an enabler.
  5. Lying to cover for mistakes – Another common element of an enabler is when you lie in order to cover for your loved one’s mistakes. The context can vary greatly. You might be lying to your daughter about why her dad missed her birthday party or telling his boss that he is ill when you don’t even know where he is. If you have to cover for your loved one by lying, you are likely an enabler.
  6. Never bringing up rehab – If you know your loved one in Des Moines has an addiction and you choose not to bring up rehab or counseling, you are doing him a disservice. Further, you are acting as an enabler.

If You Are Enabling, It May Be Time for You to Seek Help Yourself

It can be aggravating at a deep level to deal with the fact that your loved one’s choices around addiction have had such a significant impact on your life. Choosing to ignore the pain or shine over the anger you feel because of it is not the path to a healthy life. Each time you choose to shield her from the consequences of her choices you extend her addiction.

Learning to break free from the enabling behavior can feel a lot like walking away from your loved one, but it is the best choice for you and for him. You will likely need a support system in Des Moines to create this shift in your life. Family or friends may be able to provide this safety net, but you could need more. Once spectacular resource to consider is Al-Anon. This is a group built around giving support to those struggling to get out of codependent relationships. It can be intimidating to consider going to a group like this on your own, but you can have some sense of what to including the following:

  • You can ask questions, or you can just observe.
  • Every meeting runs in accordance with its members, so it would be best to attend at least six meetings before making a decision about its usefulness.
  • Everyone is equal at Al-Anon.

You may also come to the recognition that it is time for you to seek professional help. If you start to wonder this, don’t wait. The help could be in the form of a counselor or psychologist. When life becomes too much to deal with, help is available, and you should seek it out.

You are not alone. Whenever you are ready to make the changes you need to make to recover mental and emotional health, there is support available. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more. They can help you find your way in Des Moines.