When Helping Hurts: Put a Stop to Enabling Behaviors

Enabling behaviors can really curtail a loved one’s recovery from addiction. Helping, in this sense, can actually be more hurtful than helpful. Put a stop to enabling behaviors before it destroys yours or your loved one’s life.

What is Enabling

Enabling is about fixing problems for other people in a way that interferes with growth and personal responsibility. Creating a dynamic for the child that allows for enabling to occur means spending money for his or her rent, rushing in to save them from consequences or just overstepping boundaries to rescue a loved one time and again from bad behavior.

Helping Without Enabling

There are some tricks to helping without enabling. Trying to save a loved one every time he or she is in trouble and not knowing where to draw the line signifies enabling behavior. Parents need to be the most mindful of this because they want to do what’s best for their children. However, romantic partners can also be guilty of doing this for their loved one, as well. Sometimes adult children may have significant mental health challenges that need to be addressed. Often, parents may try to rescue a child from their problems. It may feel good right now to do this but the message to the child is that he or she is not competent enough to handle the issue on his or her own. Parents in this situation can help themselves to be mindful of enabling children by carefully considering the following:

  • Encourage loved ones to live on their own terms. Children and loved ones need to strive towards self-sufficiency. This does not mean sending a loved out on the street when they can’t pay the bills but it is about helping them become able to manage their life’s goals.
  • Encourage working children to contribute to room and board if living at home
  • Don’t offer money indiscriminately or just because they ask. Find out the reason for needing money. They may be using it for buying drugs or alcohol if they have addiction so it pays to find out where the money is really going if asking becomes a habit.
  • Develop a response to offer when you’re caught off guard. Agree you’ll respond in a certain time frame but won’t respond right away for requests.
  • Reserve the right to say no rather than just offer money or help.


Sound Recovery can help you discover new ways of living healthy and happy in recovery. We will guide you through the steps to recovery. If you are struggling with addiction, let us help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.

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