Support Versus Enabling | What is the Difference?

Support Versus Enabling

support and enabling

supportive services for addiction and relationshipsThe complexities of addiction make it extremely difficult to overcome. Among the many factors to consider is how to identify whether or not substance abuse is becoming problematic. Here is a Free Drug Abuse Screening Test that may help shed some light on your use. Learning how to identify addiction patterns can warn you that your loved one is in trouble and may require help. And while there are many reasons that can contribute to why a person abuses drugs or alcohol, it’s important to understand the line between support versus enabling. The desire to help others, especially those who we love, is one of the noblest of human instincts. However, being an enabler can result in disastrous outcomes for those battling addiction and mental health issues.

Substance abuse results in creating physical, emotional, and mental effects in people that can be quite revealing. Individuals may react to substances differently, however, the pull of addiction is usually the same—very intense and can drastically impact how an individual behaves. Knowing where you stand between support versus enabling substance abuse behaviors is critical, especially if you’re in pursuit of finding help and treatment for your loved one. Make the most impact by learning key factors and mechanisms to address substance abuse, and learn when and how to take care of your own mental health.

Many have faced a challenging journey to recovery and have found empowerment through supportive communities of friends, family, co-workers, and working professionals. It is possible to find and receive help for your loved one. For immediate assistance with drug abuse and alcohol addictions, contact our supportive staff 24/7 at 855-288-5588.

Importance of Community Building for Recovery

Recovery is a team-oriented process and it is highly encouraged for those seeking treatment to examine and explore their social relationships for support. Support can come in many forms. For example, many positive support factors include positive reinforcement, accountability, connectedness, and a genuine desire to help. However, not everyone has easy access to supportive family or friends, which can become a barrier to treatment and recovery.

Support Versus Enabling: Where is the Line?

What is the difference between support versus enabling? It’s a fine line to walk. In uncharted waters, the experience can feel debilitating and even hopeless. Many families liken the experience of assisting a loved through recovery as its own form of abuse. The cycle of substance misuse often doesn’t occur overnight but instead progresses with time. As the disease of addiction takes hold, individuals may display problematic and even harmful behavior such as:

  • Loss of control
  • Lying
  • Mood Swings
  • Theft
  • Violence

Substances alter and greatly impact rationality. A once calm and friendly person may begin to show signs of erratic and risky behavior. They may be prone to lying, stealing, or even becoming emotionally or physically abusive. In these instances, you should set clear boundaries in order to protect your mental and physical wellbeing. Be direct about asking them to seek help. If they decline, it’s important to have a plan of action that ultimately removes you from the vicious cycle of substance abuse.

Community Support Can Help More Individuals Overcome Addiction Sooner

enabling versus supportAccording to the Addiction Center, when addiction occurs, the chemicals inside an individual’s brain are ultimately recalibrated and adjusted to accommodate the foreign substance. The brain’s new “natural” state requires the chemical to be present to complete normal functions. So addicts seek out a substance, despite any future consequences of their behavior. They may demonstrate manipulative tactics in order to continue pursuing substance misuse. It’s important not to enable this type of behavior, but rather encourage strength in overcoming it, instead. The meaning of support versus enabling is taking a closer look at how your behavior may or may not perpetuate drug abuse.

Many unhelpful characteristics of friends and family include guilt-ridden comments, negative reinforcement, and lack of support in maintaining sobriety. According to many clinicians and counselors in the field of rehabilitation, one of, if not the most important factor in obtaining and maintaining sobriety is an individual’s community. This is why most rehabilitative treatments and alcoholics anonymous work so hard to provide a sober living community. These sober living communities help to build and guide an individual’s recovery process and more often than not, these sober living communities succeed at maintaining recovery. Because of the importance of community and recovery, it is imperative to understand the behaviors that provide effective support as opposed to more harmful behaviors that can lead to relapse and make staying sober much more difficult.

What Does Helpful Support Look Like?

Support for those struggling with alcohol and other drug problems is a critical component to developing a healthy and sober lifestyle. Most of the research in the field of psychology has shown that a sense of community, positive self-regard and access to cognitive coping skills or other resources are most correlated with successful outcomes in therapy and drug rehab treatments. But, how do these factors look in real life? It is easy to discuss what needs to be done to aid a loved one or a friend throughout the recovery process, but when it comes to implementing these skills it can be more difficult to know what is helpful or not. Below are a few helpful tips that are useful when supporting a family member or friend through rehabilitation.

Positive Self-Regard

  • Use positive language that encourages changes and does not pathologize or shame the individual’s attempt at sobriety (e.g., You are working hard, you are learning, you are determined, etc.)
  • Point out small victories for the individual. (e.g., You made it a whole day without a drink, you asked for help today, etc.)
  • Do not blame the individual for mistakes. (e.g., I know you are upset, but this was the longest period of sobriety for you!).

Sense of Community

  • Help the individual get connected with local resources and sober communities (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.)
  • Encourage volunteering options to provide a sense of belonging and accomplishment
  • Encourage a sponsor or engage in treatment options alongside the individual if allowed.

Coping Skills and Resources

  • Encourage the use of therapy skills and emotional regulation.
  • Actively listen to the individual and engage in their experience
  • Help to create a low-risk environment with minimal to no opportunities for triggers or relapse. (e.g., no bars, water, and soda instead of alcoholic options, etc.)

It is highly encouraged for supportive family and friends to engage in positive behaviors. The list included above are suggestions and are correlated with maintaining recovery.

What Are Enabling Behaviors?

support versus enablingEnabling is a common term used for disruptive behaviors that impact an individual’s recovery process. Community is a crucial factor in alcohol and drug treatment. Having a positive community is a strong component of healthy rehabilitation. On the contrary, a lack of community or unsupportive family and friends can make rehabilitation very difficult or at times almost impossible. Not all enabling behaviors are clear and it can be hard to know what is supportive or enabling behaviors. Below are a few examples of unsupportive behaviors that can make recovery very difficult.

  1. Encouraging the use of alcohol despite knowing the individual’s desire to reach sobriety.
  2. Choosing high-risk situations to meet (e.g., bars, taverns, restaurants, etc.).
  3. Shaming relapses cause the individual to feel more guilty.
  4. Not acknowledging progress towards recovery.
  5. Inappropriate invites to social gatherings involving alcohol.
  6. Ignoring or disrespecting the individual’s goal of sobriety.

This list is not exhaustive and there are several other enabling behaviors. It is encouraged to assess behaviors for supportive and enabling behaviors to make the most informed decision on how to support a loved one throughout their recovery. AspenRidge is able to help provide support to family members and friends who are supporting someone through recovery. The staff is able to provide further information available in the local community. One group that is very supportive of the family members of those seeking recovery is Al-Anon or Ala-Teen. These groups are designed to help ease the emotional and mental stress that may occur when caring for an individual struggling with alcohol or other drug use or dependence. It is a national organization and can be found in the majority of cities in the United States and beyond.

What can AspenRidge Offer for Support?

AspenRidge is happy to help members who are receiving treatment as well as their family and friends. As described above, the community is important to recovery and it is AspenRidge’s dedication to aiding all members of recovery from the initial contact to setting up proper community support. The staff is highly trained in assessment and able to provide further information on safely obtaining sobriety prior to admittance into rehabilitative programs.

It is highly encouraged for prospective clients to contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers at 855-288-5588 to speak to staff about various programs or to verify different insurance plans. Further information can also be found at Gaining knowledge prior to taking the steps towards recovery is crucial and AspenRidge is determined to help in the recovery process and connect those with proper medical professionals.

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