Enabling is a behavior in which a person allows or facilitates another person’s addictive behavior, often out of a desire to help or avoid conflict. While enabling may be well-intentioned, it can actually harm the addicted person and prevent them from seeking help or making progress in recovery.
Codependency is a common pattern of behavior that can be challenging to overcome. It can make a person feel overly responsible for the well-being of another individual, often to the point of neglecting their own needs and feelings.
It can be difficult to break out of these patterns of behavior, but doing so can help both you and the addicted person move forward towards a healthier and happier future. You may find it helpful to talk to a therapist or attend a support group where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. With time and effort, you can learn to set healthy boundaries and prioritize your own needs while also supporting the addicted person in their recovery journey.
Research has shown that enabling can have a negative impact on addiction recovery. Here are some statistics and sources to support this:
- Enabling behavior is common among family members of individuals with substance use disorders. According to one study, 90% of family members of individuals with addiction reported engaging in enabling behaviors. (Beattie, 1989)
- Enabling behavior can make it more difficult for individuals with addiction to seek treatment. One study found that individuals who reported more enabling behavior from their family members were less likely to seek treatment for addiction. (Buckingham-Howes et al., 2013)
- Enabling behavior can prolong addiction and make it more difficult to achieve recovery. According to one study, individuals with addiction who received more enabling behavior from their family members had a longer duration of substance use and were less likely to achieve abstinence. (O’Farrell et al., 2016)
- Enabling behavior can also have negative consequences for family members themselves. According to one study, family members who engage in enabling behavior report higher levels of stress and psychological distress. (Pagano et al., 2004)
Beattie, M. (1989). Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. Harper Collins.
Buckingham-Howes, S., Oberlander, S. E., & Poley, K. (2013). An examination of family functioning and treatment outcome for adolescents with substance abuse problems. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, 22(1), 36-50.
O’Farrell, T. J., Fals-Stewart, W., Murphy, M., & Murphy, C. M. (2016). Partner violence before and after individually based alcoholism treatment for male alcoholic patients: the role of treatment involvement and abstinence. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 84(4), 391.
Pagano, M. E., White, W. L., Kelly, J. F., Stout, R. L., & Tonigan, J. S. (2004). The 10-year course of Alcoholics Anonymous participation and long-term outcomes: a follow-up study of outpatient subjects in Project MATCH. Addiction, 99(10), 1280-1289.