Sunday, March 18, 2007

What is Enabling?

People in class will say "I am an enabler" or "others have told them that they are an enabler." This only makes people feel even more "stuck" and thinking there is something wrong with them. Concept number one: Enabling is a behavior not a person. It is a behavior that a family member has learned to do for emotional survival.

Enabling is a behavior in which someone does something for the addicted person that the addicted person should be doing for themselves. Enabling is a learned behavior that can be unlearned and replaced by a healthier more productive response to your loved one's addiction.

Why do people do these behaviors? One reason is that family members are generally very anxious about what is happening to their loved one. They are also feeling a sense of responsibility to "do something" to help or are feeling pressured to do something to help. Feeling anxious, responsible and pressured is a dangerous combination. Add in a misunderstanding of what addiction is and you get a set-up for enabling behavior.

Enabling behavior is a method family members use to soothe their own anxiety. These behaviors do not help the addict. They actually prevent the addicted person from experiencing the reality of their addiction. Enabling behaviors also prevent the family member from understanding that their loved one's addiction is not their issue. It effects them deeply but their loved ones addiction is their loved ones issue. The family member actually has other issues they need to work on.

"The role adopted for survival can also be the role that will destroy." Go to alanon meetings or families anonymous meetings. If there are no families anonymous meetings in your area start one. Go to the families anonymous link on this website and they show you how to do that.

No comments: