Enabling vs. Supporting: 3 Tips to Consider as an Addict’s Loved One

2 min read · 4 sections

Those who have a loved one struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction likely know how difficult it can be. Some days may be good, and other days are heartbreaking. You may be worried and stressed about what to expect next. You may be wondering how to set healthy boundaries. It’s often challenging to have the proper balance of support without enabling their addiction.

How can you toe the line as a loved one without alienating them, ensuring you’re on the right side of enabling vs. supporting? Here are 3 tips to help you in supporting a loved one.couple upset because they don't know about enabling vs supporting

1. Highlight the Positive

No matter what your loved one is going through, there will be things you can highlight that are positive. This is especially true if and when they are attempting to get off drugs or alcohol. Any step in that direction—no matter how small—is a positive one and needs to be commended. Many times, people who are living a life of addiction also feel like their lives are spiraling out of control. They may feel helpless and hopeless, but your words of positivity and encouragement can provide them with a ray of hope for the future. Finding the positives in a loved one’s fight against addiction is one of the main ways to distinguish enabling vs. supporting.

2. Offer Tangible Help

This area of help can become murky, especially if your loved one is still using drugs or alcohol. They may ask for the wrong kind of help, like money for their habit or a ride to pick up their substance of choice and so on. It is important that you set healthy boundaries if this comes up. While you don’t want to enable them by helping them get the drugs or alcohol, you can help in other ways. One tangible way you can help your loved one is to encourage them to seek treatment and then offer them a ride to and from rehab. This helps them feel supported and loved, which is vital for their self-esteem.

In addition, many rehab programs have family therapy, which may be something you can do with your loved one. This would be a boost for them, and it would help repair any broken communication issues. Furthermore, family therapists may be able to help you understand the differences between enabling vs. supporting, and may help set healthy boundaries.

3. Be There if They Fall

If your loved one has taken that first step on the journey to recovery, then you probably feel relieved and excited about the future. There are better days to look forward to in the future. However, relapse is common. So, be prepared in case this happens. You can prepare mentally by understanding that substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder are just like any other disorders a person may have.

For example, someone who has diabetes may do well for a while, but if they go off their eating plan, diabetes can return—they can have a relapse. The same can be said for an addiction disorder. If your loved one goes off the prescribed course of action, then they can relapse. Staying in therapy and following the therapist’s guidelines can help your loved one avoid relapse.

If they do fall, encourage them to get back up and keep going. Don’t shame them or show disappointment. They may feel bad enough as it is, and you don’t want them giving up altogether.people holding hands know difference in enabling vs supporting

Enabling vs. Supporting During Recovery

Supporting a loved one who is addicted to a substance can be very challenging. Everyday there may be new challenges. Finding a way to overcome the instinct to enable by setting healthy boundaries can be an important step in helping yourself and your loved one. If you’re struggling with enabling vs. supporting, or have questions about a loved one’s addiction, get in touch with American Addiction Centers today.

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