Tag Archive: enabling behavior

  1. How to Know if You’re Enabling a Teen

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    It is difficult for parents when their teen is struggling with an addiction. They want to do everything they can to support their teen. But unfortunately, what the parents consider supporting their teen often means enabling. It’s not intentional, however, it doesn’t help the teen.

    What Is Enabling

    By definition, enabling means doing something for someone that they are capable of doing themselves. When parents allow a teen struggling with addiction to avoid or delay consequences of their behavior, it is defined as enabling. It is a tricky concept and has roots in substance abuse treatment, where this kind of behavior is commonly seen in the people who care about the individual or teen who is struggling with substance abuse.

    What are the ramifications of enabling? When a parent continues to make excuses for their teen’s substance abuse, thus delaying any consequences for them, as well as taking away the teen’s motivation to stop their abuse of drugs or alcohol and start taking responsibility for their actions.

    Examples of Enabling

    A parent may be enabling their teen if they do any or all of the below:

    • Agreed to lie when their teen missed school or work, such as calling in sick on their behalf.
    • Let their teen return home after running away without any consequences.
    • Avoiding confrontation with their teen over unfinished chores due to concerns about their response.
    • Choosing to believe their teen’s stories about what they’re doing and turning a blind eye to the truth.
    • Not expressing concerns about their behavior to them.
    • Loaned them money knowing it will probably never be returned.
    • Ignored possible signs of teen drug use or self-harm.

    The Dangers of Enabling

    It is ironic that the parents’ enabling behavior comes from their good intentions to help their teen. If the parents have been enabling their teen, then it is important to note that the enabling behavior may be hurting the teen in the long run. It goes without saying that when the teen struggling with addiction doesn’t have to take responsibility for their actions or face consequences because their parents keep making things easier for them, then it’s going to take that much longer for the teen to recognize just how serious their problems are and want to make any real change.

    Once the parents realize how harmful their own behavior is, they should start to back off and let their teen begin to deal with the consequences. Ultimately, this is what will help the teen struggling with the addiction to heal.


    With a unique approach to adolescent care, Sustain Recovery provides long term residential solutions. Our programs offer a safe and structured environment wherein adolescents are able to maintain a meaningful, fun and substance free way of life.


  2. Beware These Enabling Behaviors

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    empower support

    At some point, most people with addicted loves will be pressed with the question of whether they’ve ever enabled that person’s addiction. It’s natural to get a little offended by this question, but in reality, the line between the right kind of support and the wrong kind–the enabling kind–can be a tricky one to dissect. It’s hard to imagine kicking an addict out of the house, cutting off their food funds, or ending the friendship between you and them.

    Helping or Enabling?

    How do you know that you’re enabling a drug addict or alcoholic? If you’re making it easier for them to abuse drugs, either emotionally or practically, that’s enabling – even if you’re keeping them housed, bathed, and sane in the process. If you have to leave work early to pick up your daughter after your husband drunkenly forgot, that’s not enabling, but  if you’re picking your husband from the bar because he got too drunk to drive home…that’s enabling.

    On a broader note, if you find yourself doing anything more than your share in the relationship or friendship for the sole reason that an addict is using drugs or alcohol…you’re enabling. It’s a difficult urge to shake, the natural instinct to help our loved ones however possible, whenever possible. What you determine to be helpful in a single powerful instant, may not be helpful at all.

    What To Do

    This is a lot more complicated than “nothing vs something.” The point isn’t to send the addict to dig themselves even deeper, it’s to encourage them to get out. Say you have a child who refuses to wash his sheets. If you do it every week for him, he’ll never do it himself.

    You don’t have to let an addict hit rock bottom in order to stop enabling them. You need to try to get them into treatment before that time comes. After a while, your words may feel useless to you, but for the person struggling, that persistence can make all the difference when a moment of clarity strikes. Additionally, you can and should seek out services for this purpose exactly (conversation).


    To get into contact with an interventionist, or to get your loved one into treatment today, give us a call at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

The people at Sustain Recovery are truly passionate about their work. They put all their love, energy and spiritual strength in to it. They continue to support me today as I continue my ongoing journey in my personal recovery. I now have over a year of sobriety, my own apartment, a job, true friends and a support network that is always available to me. Although all that stuff is great, what matters most today is that I love myself and have the ability to love others. Thank you to all who had a hand and heart in Sustain Recovery

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