Commentary: Why the Term “Enabling” Does More Harm Than Good

Term Enabling in Support Addiction GroupsThe term “enabling” is commonplace in the field of addiction. It is used within support group settings, in treatment programs and throughout the professional literature about addiction and the family. I consider it one of the most frequently misunderstood terms in our field. In fact, as my research about family caregivers of people with substance use disorders has evolved, I have come to loathe the term “enabling.” Here is why.

There is a great deal of misinterpretation about what qualifies as behavior that is “enabling.”

Webster’s  definition of the term includes: “a) to provide with the means or opportunity; and b) to make possible, practical or easy.” Wikipedia notes that enabling also is used “to signify dysfunctional approaches that are intended to help but in fact may perpetuate a problem….” Examples include taking responsibility, blaming others or making accommodations for a person’s harmful conduct, so that the person is shielded from the harm it may do and the pressure to change.

Full story of enabling at DrugFree.org

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Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

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Will Savage

Quantum Units Continuing Education provides online CEU training's to licensed professional mental health therapists, counselors, social workers and nurses. Our blog provides updates in the field of news and research related to mental health and substance abuse treatment.