top of page

Supporting Recovery Without Enabling: Empowering Self-Care

Working as a trauma-informed nutritionist and recovery coach I'm asked how do you support a loved one recovery journey as they learn how to release codependency patterns?

Supporting someone in recovery from addiction is a delicate and challenging task. The fine line between providing assistance and enabling destructive behaviors is one that friends and family often struggle to navigate. The key to effective support lies in empowering the individual to take care of themselves properly while avoiding actions that might hinder their progress. This post will explore practical strategies to provide support without enabling, helping the person in recovery build a foundation of self-care and self-reliance.

Understanding Enabling:

Before delving into the specifics of supporting recovery without enabling, it's essential to grasp what enabling means. Enabling involves any action that unintentionally or inadvertently encourages the person in recovery to continue their addictive behavior. This can take many forms, such as making excuses for them, providing the substance of abuse, or rescuing them from the consequences of their actions.

Encouraging Self-Care:

  1. Open Communication: Establish an open line of communication with the person in recovery. Encourage them to talk about their struggles, thoughts, and feelings without fear of judgment. Honest conversations can provide insight into their needs and challenges.

  2. Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about addiction, recovery, and the unique challenges faced by the person you're supporting. Understanding the nature of addiction and the recovery process can help you offer more informed and empathetic support.

  3. Set Boundaries: Create clear and healthy boundaries to protect your own well-being and to set an example of what boundaries look like. Communicate these boundaries respectfully and consistently. Let the person in recovery know what behaviors are unacceptable and the consequences of violating these boundaries.

  4. Empower Decision-Making: Encourage the person in recovery to make decisions for themselves, especially those related to their recovery. Offer guidance and information, but allow them to take ownership of their choices.

  5. Avoid Covering Up: Refrain from making excuses or covering up the consequences of their actions. This includes not protecting them from the natural outcomes of their behavior, which can be a powerful motivator for change.

  6. Support Healthy Coping Strategies: Help them identify and develop healthy coping mechanisms to replace their addictive behaviors. This might include engaging in therapy, mindfulness practices, hobbies, or exercise.

  7. Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate their progress, even small victories. This positive reinforcement can be a significant motivator for them to continue on their recovery journey.

  8. Encourage Self-Responsibility: Empower the person in recovery to take responsibility for their actions and their recovery. Avoid taking on their responsibilities or shielding them from the consequences of their choices.

Supporting someone in recovery without enabling is a delicate balancing act. It requires understanding the nature of enabling and the importance of fostering self-care and self-reliance. By communicating openly, educating yourself, setting healthy boundaries, and empowering the person in recovery to make their own decisions, you can play a significant role in their journey toward a healthier and more fulfilling life. Remember that the path to recovery is unique for each individual, and your support can make a positive impact on their progress.

Support for breaking free from past pain

Supporting someone on their addiction recovery journey, especially when they have experienced abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma, developed codependency and people-pleasing tendencies, and have an emotional binge eating disorder, requires a delicate and empathetic approach. Here's a five-step process to provide support:

1. Encourage Self-Awareness:

  • Help the individual understand the connection between their addiction, codependency, people-pleasing, and emotional binge eating. Encourage self-reflection and self-awareness to recognize how their past experiences have influenced their behaviors.

2. Seek Professional Help:

  • Encourage the person to seek therapy or counseling with professionals who specialize in addiction, trauma, codependency, and eating disorders. A trained therapist can help them address the underlying issues and develop coping strategies.

3. Foster a Supportive Environment:

  • Create a safe and non-judgmental space where the individual can openly discuss their struggles and feelings. Encourage open communication and let them know that you are there to support them throughout their journey.

4. Education and Resources:

  • Provide information and resources about addiction recovery, codependency, and eating disorders. Help them understand the nature of their conditions and the tools available for managing them.

5. Encourage Self-Care and Healthy Coping Strategies:

  • Support the development of healthy coping mechanisms and self-care routines. Encourage them to find alternatives to people-pleasing and emotional binge eating, such as meditation, exercise, creative outlets, or relaxation techniques. Be a partner in these endeavors, engaging in these activities together or offering assistance.

In addition to these steps, it's important to be patient and understanding, as progress in recovery can be slow, and setbacks may occur. Be mindful of the following while providing support:

  • Avoid Enabling: Refrain from enabling their addictive behaviors. It's important not to make excuses for them or help them obtain the addictive substance.

  • Boundaries: Set and communicate healthy boundaries to protect your own well-being. This can also serve as a model for the individual to learn about boundaries.

  • Self-Care: Take care of your own mental and emotional health. Supporting someone with complex issues can be emotionally taxing, so make sure you have your support system and self-care practices in place.

  • Non-Judgment: Avoid judgment and criticism, as this can hinder the person's progress. Offer empathy and understanding instead.

  • Celebrate Progress: Acknowledge and celebrate even small milestones and progress in their journey to recovery.

Remember that recovery is a highly individualized process, and the pace of progress may vary. Your role is to provide a support system and guidance, but ultimately, the person in recovery will need to take responsibility for their own healing and growth.

Here is what that looks like in real life.

Supporting someone in recovery while avoiding enabling and maintaining healthy boundaries is essential for their well-being and progress. Here's a detailed explanation of each aspect:

1. Avoid Enabling:

  • Enabling involves unintentionally or inadvertently encouraging the addictive behavior or making it easier for the person to continue in their harmful habits. To avoid enabling: a. Do not make excuses: Refrain from covering up or justifying the person's actions related to addiction. Be honest and encourage accountability. b. Do not provide the substance: Never assist in obtaining the addictive substance, whether it's alcohol, drugs, or any other harmful behavior. This includes not giving them money if it will be used to support their addiction. c. Avoid rescuing: Let them face the consequences of their actions. Avoid bailing them out of problems created by their addiction. Consequences can be a powerful motivator for change. d. Set limits: Establish clear and consistent boundaries to prevent them from engaging in destructive behavior. Make it known that certain actions or behaviors are unacceptable.

2. Boundaries:

  • Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is crucial for both you and the person in recovery. Here's how to establish and communicate boundaries: a. Define your boundaries: Identify what you are comfortable with and what you are not. Your boundaries might include time commitments, emotional availability, or what you are willing to tolerate in terms of their behavior. b. Communicate boundaries: Clearly and respectfully communicate your boundaries to the person in recovery. Let them know what you expect and what the consequences will be if those boundaries are violated. c. Consistency is key: Once you've set boundaries, be consistent in enforcing them. This helps the person in recovery understand the consequences of their actions. d. Model healthy boundaries: By setting boundaries, you demonstrate what it means to have healthy boundaries, which can be a valuable lesson for the person in recovery.

3. Self-Care:

  • Supporting someone in recovery can be emotionally and mentally taxing. Practicing self-care is essential for your well-being: a. Maintain your support system: Lean on your own support network, which may include friends, family, or a therapist. They can provide guidance, understanding, and a safe space for you to express your feelings. b. Set aside "me" time: Dedicate time to activities and practices that rejuvenate and relax you. This can include hobbies, exercise, meditation, or anything that helps you recharge. c. Educate yourself: Learn about addiction, recovery, and how to support a person in their journey. Knowledge can empower you and reduce feelings of helplessness. d. Recognize your limits: Be aware of your emotional boundaries and know when you might need to step back temporarily to protect your own well-being.

4. Non-Judgment:

  • It's important to create a non-judgmental and empathetic environment for the person in recovery: a. Listen without judgment: Encourage open and honest communication. Let them share their thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism. b. Empathize: Try to understand their struggles and the challenges they face without blaming or criticizing them. Offer support and validation for their efforts. c. Avoid shaming: Shaming or guilting the person for their past behavior is counterproductive and can damage their self-esteem and motivation to change.

5. Celebrate Progress:

  • Recognizing and celebrating even small milestones can be motivating and reinforcing for the person in recovery: a. Acknowledge achievements: Celebrate their progress, whether it's a week of sobriety, successful therapy sessions, or any positive changes in their life. b. Encourage self-acknowledgment: Help them recognize their accomplishments and strengths. This can boost their self-esteem. c. Positive reinforcement: Offer positive feedback and encouragement. It can be a powerful incentive for them to continue their recovery journey.

Remember that supporting someone in recovery is a process that requires patience, understanding, and flexibility. Recovery is often a bumpy road, and your support can make a significant difference in their journey toward a healthier and happier life.

Need Help Developing A Plan For Self-Care

Do you want help developing a self-care plan that works for your busy schedule? Do you want accountability in implementing a self-care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self-care routine, and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self-care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.

About The Author:

Dr. Nikki LeToya White
Dr. Nikki LeToya White

Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director, and full-time board-certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC

Art Wellness Studio and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expanded to include an online membership site so we now provide support to people living all over the world. All of our recovery coaches provide at least one evidence-based treatment to assist in your recovery. Dr. White is a big proponent of self-care and helping people live a fulfilling life! She has been in full remission with both codependency and emotional binge eating disorder since 2016. In living a life in recovery from sugar addiction. Loving her low-sugar balance lifestyle.

Best Regards

Dr. Nikki LeToya White


bottom of page