Defining Enabling for Ourselves

I usually avoid using the word ‘Enabling‘ because of the broad definition of it’s meaning and because of the negative connotations. I still believe that no one else can “decide” for someone else what enabling is. Each situation is so unique that I believe it’s a disservice to assess a situation based on one paragraph in a support group.

Of course we all learn as we go. There is really no other way to navigate through this maze of addiction or any other debilitating situation that renders the person unable to manage their life. To leave them floundering in their chaos just doesn’t seem right to me. Although I don’t support my son while in active addiction, I will support any and all things recovery.

I like this article from Nova Recovery with whom I have no affiliation with- because it lays out most of the facts surrounding helping with addiction. There are always unique situations and no one knows your particular one. I do have trouble with “Don’t act out of fear” because of the increased risk of death or long term prison sentences.

I also don’t like the last paragraph lol.

Tell me what you think.

The Enabling Cycle: When Helping isn’t Helping

Nova Recovery Center | Posted on June 1, 2016

Drug addiction does not discriminate, it doesn’t care if your rich or poor, famous or unknown, a man or woman, it doesn’t care what race or age you are. Many people can relate first hand to the effects of the drug epidemic in America, and parents are crying out with pleas of help. Everyone connected to the person abusing drugs can and will get hurt, husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, babies, other family members and friends.

Drug addiction doesn’t only hurt the user, but everyone else connected to him or her also. Substance abuse and addiction is a very serious problem for many people. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that, in the year before the survey, more than 23 million people needed treatment for substance abuse. However, only 2.5 million received drug treatment. Even more staggering 21.5 million of them reported that they saw no need to seek help. This figure suggests that many people are in denial about the severity of their substance abuse.

The reason behind this denial are complex, but one common reason is enabling. This means that someone close to the user is accepting their substance abuse and allowing it to continue with relatively few consequences. Enabling can be extremely dangerous, both for drug user and their loved ones. Since enabling discourages users from addressing their problem with professional help, it can lead to situations that cause physical, mental and psychological harm.


Enabling protects them from the consequences of their choices and actions. The more you let them depend on you and take you for granted, the less motivated they are to change. Most enablers start off doing a nice thing for the drug user, usually something to help them out. They always have the best intentions and fully believe they’re helping, but they fail to realize that drug users are selfish and use manipulation to get what they want. The enabler enables because it gives them a false sense of self and makes them feel needed. They also feel control over the other person (through guilt) by helping them. However, they ironically still end up feeling resentful, frustrated, or unappreciated. Thus starting the cycle of enabling which can be extremely difficult to break. In my recent years of working in the addiction field, I’ve come to understand deeply the effects of enabling on the user and the enabler. Here is an example chart of the cycle of enabling.

Other examples of enabling are:

  • Ignoring the addict’s negative or potentially dangerous behavior – This behavior can involve anything from overlooking problems to denying that a problem even exists
  • Difficulty expressing emotions – Enablers are often unsure how to express their feelings, especially if there are negative repercussions for doing so
  • Prioritizing the addict’s needs before her own – While it is natural to want to help loved ones, enabling takes helping a step too far, where the addict has her needs taken care of while the enabler neglects her own
  • Acting out of fear – Since addiction can cause frightening events, the enabler will do whatever it takes to avoid such situations
  • Lying to others to cover the addict’s behavior – An enabler will lie to keep the peace and to present a controlled, calm exterior
  • Blaming people or situations other than the addict – To protect the addict from the consequences of drug abuse, the enabler might accuse other people of causing drug abuse
  • Resenting the addict – The result of the above behaviors is that the enabler will likely feel angry and hurt. She may act on these feelings by resenting the addict all while continuing to enable the addiction.

Breaking The Cycle of Enabling.

While enabling can be a serious problem for everyone involved with addiction, it is completely possible to break the enabling cycle so the addict can heal in productive, meaningful ways. Here are some suggestions to help someone stop enabling:

  • Don’t lie for anyone. Don’t be the parent or wife who gets on the phone and says her husband or son is sick when he’s hungover or using.
  • Don’t make excuses for others when they don’t fulfill their obligations.
  • Don’t clean up after a substance abuser. They should see the damage they’ve done and the chaos they’ve caused.
  • Be accountable for your bills only. If you’re not responsible for it, don’t pay it. Especially when dealing with consequences that addicts create. Don’t bail them out of jail, unless they want drug treatment help.
  • Stand up for yourself. You don’t have to be mean, but you do have to put your foot down. Setting and creating healthily boundaries allows you to gain your own life back.
  • Don’t rescue. A person must suffer the consequences of their actions. Which means don’t pay for lawyers or post bail. Many enablers turn from helping to saving and recusing quickly. Soon all of their thoughts and actions surround only the user, and they’re missing out on their own life.
  • Stop trying to fix everybody. You’re not a magician and you’re not God. Work on yourself. Get the support of friends, family members and counselors. Join Al-Anon or some other 12-step program. Do whatever it takes to stop yourself from hurting somebody else with your notion of helping.

Real love for somebody is being able to step back and allow them to suffer enough to recognize their need to change.

Recovery Tools

12 Useful Alexa Skills for Addiction Recovery

Nova Recovery Center | Posted on August 19, 2019

12 Useful Alexa Skills for Addiction Recovery

If you own an Amazon Echo smart speaker, you have access to dozens of great sobriety maintenance tools you may not even know about. Whether you’re new to recovery or you’ve been sober for several months or years, these skills can add an extra layer of support to your sobriety journey. Here are some of the most useful Alexa skills for people in recovery.

sober now alexa skill

1. Sober Now

Sober Now offers four different sobriety tools wrapped up into one Alexa app. Get inspirational quotes, realistic self-care tips, interesting statistics on addiction and recovery, and relatable podcast episodes that will work together to help you keep your sobriety top of mind daily. With useful tips and powerful advice, this Alexa App is an all-encompassing tool that will help you stay motivated and prevent relapse.

headspace alexa skill

2. Headspace: Guided Meditation for Everybody 

This skill from Headspace is particularly helpful if you want to incorporate meditation into your sober daily routine. Use it daily to learn how to meditate and live mindfully with consistent practice. Complete with a sleep exercise to help you wind down at the end of the day, Headspace can help you manage stress, focus, and be happier with guided meditation.

sobriety birthday alexa skill

3. Sobriety Birthday

If you like to keep track of your days sober and count down to your sobriety birthday, this Alexa skill is for you! Sobriety Birthday allows you to easily count down to your special day by telling you exactly how many days remain in the countdown. This is a great way to stay motivated and remember all the progress you’ve made.

make me smile alexa skill

4. Make Me Smile

Some sober days will be easier than others, but if you’re feeling particularly down or depressed, you can simply ask Alexa to make you smile and she’ll give you plenty of reasons to feel hopeful and happy. The Make Me Smile Alexa app is a great instant pick-me-up for those dark gloomy days in recovery.

alcoholics anonymous alexa skill

5. Alcoholics Anonymous

Looking for a local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting in your area? The Alcoholics Anonymous Alexa skill can help you find the next available meeting and offer additional meeting times and options if you need it. You can also ask Alexa when your next meeting is to receive a reminder of the date and time. An additional perk: this skill rewards you with virtual sobriety chips as you earn them!

sleep sounds alexa skill

6. Sleep Sounds: Rain Sounds

Insomnia is common among people in recovery, but the Sleep Sounds Alexa skill can help you get a good night’s rest. This skill provides relaxing, ambient sounds that loop for an hour, including rain sounds, fireplace sounds, ocean sounds, white noise, thunderstorm sounds, café sounds, and more.

recovery speakers alexa skill

7. Recovery Speakers from Alcoholics Anonymous

Hearing someone else talk about their recovery journey can be extremely powerful and motivating, especially if you’re new to recovery. With the Recovery Speakers from Alcoholics Anonymous app, you can listen to random Alcoholics Anonymous speakers talk about their journey from addiction to recovery by simply saying, “Alexa, open Recovery Speakers.”

emotionally sober mind sober skill

8. Emotionally Sober Mind

Learning how to feel your emotions and manage them without drugs or alcohol can be challenging. The Emotionally Sober Mind skill helps you accept your emotions as they come and fully experience them without letting them take over completely. When paired with therapy or counseling, this Alexa skill might just be life-changing.

senenity prayer alexa skill

9. The Serenity Prayer

A simple but effective Alexa skill, the Serenity Prayer will lead you through the complete serenity prayer for 12-Step support groups. Whether you’re new to the 12-Step Program or you’d just like to hear the words spoken aloud, this Alexa skill can easily be integrated into your daily morning or evening routine.

yoga music alexa skill

10. Yoga Music

The Yoga Music Alexa app provides an hour-long background track of calming, peaceful music for your yoga practice. Stay calm, focused, and centered while you practice your yoga and forget about searching through endless Spotify playlists to find the perfect one.

talk me down alexa skill

11. Talk Me Down

Having someone to talk you down off a ledge is helpful if you feel like you’re about to use or have a drink. If your sponsor is unavailable and you can’t get ahold of another trusted support person, the Alexa Talk Me Down app can provide a timely and supportive message of courage when you need it most.

my mindful journal alexa skill

12. My Mindful Journal

If you’d like to get into the habit of journaling regularly but you don’t know what to write about, the My Mindful Journal Alexa app can help. This skill provides insightful prompts and questions to help you reflect on everyday moments in your day-to-day life. The best thing? After using this skill for a while, you’ll likely find that you can write in your mindfulness journey with any prompts or questions!

-From Nova Recovery Center– which I have no affiliation with or guarantee of services.

6 Common Myths About Addiction

From Nova Recovery Center

(No affiliation or guarantee of services)

The concept of addiction is clouded with many misconceptions and assumptions, making it difficult for friends and family members to truly understand what an addicted loved one is going through. There are countless myths floating around about drug abuse, addiction, and alcoholism, but here are just a few of the most common myths and misconceptions.

Addiction Myth #1: People who are addicted just lack willpower.

It’s a common notion to assume that addicted individuals just lack the willpower to overcome their drug or alcohol abuse. However, addiction actually changes the brain of the user, severely impairing willpower and hampering self-control. Additionally, most medical associations including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine classify addiction as a chronic disease, meaning it is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured (similar to diabetes or cancer).1 Just as individuals cannot overcome cancer with sheer willpower, it’s highly unlikely that addicted individuals can either.

Addiction changes the way a person’s brain and body functions, inhibiting their ability to resist their substance of choice. When drugs are abused, pleasure chemicals are released in the brain, and over time, this release of chemicals modifies the parts of the brain that control pleasure, motivation, and memory. As a result, people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol with experience extreme cravings and frequently end up prioritizing their drug use over life-sustaining necessities like food, water, and shelter.

Addiction Myth #2: All addicts are the same.

The stereotype that addicted individuals are all low-income or unemployed, minorities, criminals, or of low socioeconomic status is simply not true. Recent reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly show that addiction can affect anyone.2

Many people are also high-functioning addicts. These individuals are often able to achieve professional success, maintain a social network, and continue to hold up appearances at home, all while hiding their addiction and substance abuse from family, friends, and coworkers. This can’t last forever, but in many cases, loved ones don’t find out about the problem until it has completely spiraled out of control. High-functioning addicts may be able to function for a while, but in the end, the truth always makes itself known.

Addiction Myth #3: Prescription drugs are safe as long as they are taken as prescribed.

Many people believe prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs just because they are recommended by a doctor. But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs can be just as dangerous and addictive as illicit drugs.3 Unfortunately, some drugs, such as prescription opioids like LorcetDolophine (methadose), and Duramorph/Roxanol (morphine)Percodan (oxycodone), and Tramadol can result in addiction even if a person takes them as prescribed by their doctor. In fact, prescription opioids are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Cough and cold medicines, like Codeine, are the most frequently abused over-the-counter medications.Benzodiazepines like Valium (diazepam)Klonopin (clonazepam)Ativan (lorazepam), and Doral are also commonly abused in the U.S.although they are often overshadowed by opioids, are also commonly abused in the U.S.

Your doctor should always consider your health conditions, current, and past drug use, as well as alternative medications before prescribing a potentially addictive drug to treat your symptoms. If you feel uncomfortable taking a medication that your doctor prescribed, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion or asking your doctor about alternative options.

Addiction Myth #4: Every person that uses drugs is an addict.

Although drug abuse can certainly lead to addiction (and in many cases it does), not every person that uses drugs or alcohol is addicted. In some cases, a person may be physically dependent on a substance, but not addicted. This is because certain parts of the brain are associated with addiction while others are associated with physical dependence.4

For example, a hospital patient may be dependent on morphine after receiving it regularly for pain relief. Once they are taken off of the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms, but this situation does not involve any of the compulsive, uncontrollable use that is associated with addiction.

Unlike physical dependence, addiction is characterized by uncontrollable cravings, an inability to control usage and continued use despite doing harm to oneself and those around them.5 Drug detox is required to break a person’s physical dependence on a substance and alcohol and drug rehab is needed to modify the negative behavioral and thought patterns associated with addiction.

Addiction Myth #5: Addiction is a sign of moral failure.

The stigma surrounding addiction implies that addicted people lack morals, but this assumption is completely unfounded. While the initial choice to use a drug may not have been a wise decision, people don’t set out to become addicted to drugs and alcohol and they certainly do not choose the consequences that come with it.

No one knows what causes addiction, but there are several known risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that genetics account for 50-75 percent of risk for addiction and there are also numerous other addiction risk factors to consider, such as:6

  • Exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Substance abuse in the family or within peer social groups
  • Drug use that begins at an early age
  • Mental illness
  • Certain personality traits and brain characteristics

Addiction Myth #6: Only one type of addiction treatment works.

Just as every individual is different, addiction treatment should vary as well. While an inpatient alcohol and drug rehab program may have been a fantastic choice for your mom, your coworker may benefit more from an outpatient drug rehab program. Much of it will depend on personal circumstances, the person’s current and past drug use, and any previous treatment they have received in the past.

Although the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that evidence-based long-term addiction treatment lasting at least 90 days is more likely to result in long-term sobriety, there are many aspects of treatment that should be adjusted to better fit the needs of each individual.7 For example, pet therapy may be extremely advantageous for one person, but it may not be as powerful for another individual.

A high-quality rehab center, such as Nova Recovery Center, should incorporate a variety of evidence-based treatments into individualized treatment plans that are designed based on the needs of the client. These alcohol and drug rehab programs should be fluid and constantly updated as the client progresses through the program. This process will look different for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that one process works better than another.

The most important thing is to find a drug and alcohol rehab program that works for you or your loved one. If you’re interested in learning more about our rehab center and the continuum of care we offer, please contact our admissions team today.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with this treatment center.