Emotional Reasons Why We Enable Our Loved Ones’ Addictions

As we’re working to support our loved ones’ recovery, we realize that we have to put a stop to the many ways in which we’ve been enabling them. When we enable our loved ones, very often we aren’t conscious of how and why we’re doing so. It can help us to change our detrimental relationship dynamics with our loved ones, and to transform how we go about helping and supporting them, by gaining more understanding around some of the reasons why we’ve been enabling them. As we know, addictions are complex and profound illnesses, with multiple layers to them. Thinking about these things and confronting them are far from easy. Uncovering our reasons for doing the things we do takes tremendous courage and self-awareness. We’re dealing with deeply rooted emotions, behaviors and choices we don’t understand, and all the patterns we’ve been subconsciously perpetuating without even realizing it. Let’s start to unpack some of the emotional reasons why we might be enabling our loved ones’ addictions when our intention is to help and support them, not to detract from their healing progress.

Our enabling of our loved ones’ addictive patterns often has a lot to do with our own pain around their addictions. It is excruciating to see our loved ones in pain, and sometimes our enabling is a coping mechanism for us. Sometimes we cope with our own pain by enabling our loved ones and their addictive patterns, because it can make us feel better to care for them. We avoid confronting our own feelings around their addictions because it’s too overwhelming and too painful, so instead of facing our emotions, we manage by taking on their burdens and doing their work for them. 

Sometimes we enable because we blame ourselves for our loved ones’ addictions. We feel as though we caused their hardships or contributed to the development of their addictions. If the addict in our lives is our child and we ourselves struggle with addiction, we worry that we are to blame for passing on addictive traits. We fear that our own mental health issues and our own difficulties around healing are the cause of their addictions. We think we failed them. If we mistreated or even abused them, we assume it was our actions that created their addictions.

We enable our loved ones because we want to protect them. We want to shield them from guilt and shame. We want to prevent them from suffering any more than they already have. We want to prevent them from having to incur any further repercussions. There are countless different reasons why we might be enabling our loved ones and their addictive patterns, and to help ourselves stop doing so, we want to finally address the emotional reasons and motivations behind our own patterns.

Riverside Recovery understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and is here to support you and your loved ones. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.