Safe, effective drug/alcohol treatment

All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

How Do I Know I’m Enabling?

"How Do I Know I'm Enabling?" Dug and Heidi Answer Crucial Recovery Questions

Dug and Heidi McGuirk Answer “How do I know I’m Enabling?”

Enabling is a highly dangerous behavior that often discourages addicts from seeking treatment. Yet many loved ones of addicts struggle with enabling because they do not understand the consequences of their actions.

In a recent video, Dug and Heidi McGuirk, who run the Revolutionary Family program for Palm Healthcare, addressed the crucial topic of enabling. Often loved ones are in denial of their enabling behaviors or are unaware of how damaging enabling is.

Two of the most common questions they receive from loved ones of addicts are:

  • How do I know if I’m enabling?
  • What exactly IS enabling?

Dug and Heidi explain there are two barometers to determine whether or not you are enabling.  First, you must decide the motivation behind your actions. This will help you understand why you are doing what you are doing. Next, you must determine whether your actions are a product of wanting control over the situation.

“You can’t control anybody,” Dug McGuirk says. “You can only control yourself.”

Furthermore, if you are doing the following things, you are enabling:

  • Manipulating an outcome
  • Trying to “keep the peace”
  • Attempting to change someone
  • Trying to prevent a consequence
  • Trying to rescue or bail out

You must commit to stopping your enabling behaviors because ultimately, enabling causes more harm than healing when it comes to helping your addicted loved one.

“The lie we tell ourselves is that if we don’t do what we are doing, our loved ones will die,” Heidi McGuirk says. “Of course, that’s the biggest lie of all. More people die from enabling behaviors than other stuff.”

In the discussion, Dug and Heidi explain the greatest roadblock enablers tackle is determining whether or not their actions comes from a place of love or a place of wanting control.

Most enablers believe their behaviors stem from a place of love. But this could not be further from the truth.

“Enabling is the most unloving thing you can do,” Heidi McGuirk reiterates.

“Without pissing anybody off here, enabling is selfishly motivated, and it’s not about the other person,” Dug McGuirk says.

Instead of love, enabling is more about:

  • Safety
  • Convenience
  • Fear

So how does one stop enabling?

First, you must make the decision to stop, Dug McGuirk affirms.

Next, frame your decisions around two barometers.  Before taking any action, acquire an awareness of your behaviors by reflecting on the following questions.

  • Are you doing what you believe in?
  • What is your motivation?

“You don’t have any control over how someone operates or who they are, but you have control over how you experience them,” Heidi McGuirk says.

After you are aware of your current behaviors, the next step is to make decisions based on what is best for you, not your loved one:

“Once you have that awareness, now you can start making a better decision so step two would be to figure out what you want for you, not for your loved one, [but] for you,”  Dug McGuirk states. “What is it that you want to experience? […] Because if someone in your family is struggling with addiction, they’re always going to have that malady, so the question is how are you going to go through it?”

When it comes to helping a loved one struggling with addiction, set boundaries by asking:

  • How do you want to participate in their addiction?
  • What are you willing to be around for?
  • What are you not willing to be around for?
  • How are you going to experience their addiction?

If you want to read more download our free E-book “What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting?”


In the next discussion, Dug and Heidi McGuirk delve deeper into the steps loved ones should take to create clear boundaries. Stay tuned for next week’s post where we will explore the topic of creating boundaries further.  You can also download our checklist to determine whether you are helping or hurting a loved one with an addiction problem.

What questions do you want us to answer next?

If you are currently struggling with any part of the recovery process, please reach out to us for help. Our highly qualified specialists strive to make a recovery possible for everyone. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

How to Help An Alcoholic

An alcoholic’s family and friends can often be the biggest motivator for an alcoholic to seek help. However, most of the time, the alcoholic’s loved ones have no idea how to help an alcoholic. Family and friends often don’t realize that they must seek help themselves to truly be able to help an alcoholic.

Addiction is known as a “family disease.” This means that the family and friends of an alcoholic are often as sick as the alcoholic themselves. Often, the loved ones of an alcoholic are enabling the alcoholic to continue drinking, even if they don’t realize it. Enabling a person with this disease is not the way to help an alcoholic. In fact, it can end up hurting them and allow them to progress in their downward spiral. Family and friends must work to change their behavior to be able to help an alcoholic. It is difficult to accept, but the truth of the matter is that you are probably not going to be able to directly change an alcoholic’s behavior.

What is the difference between helping and enabling? Simply put, when you help an alcoholic, you are doing something for them that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling an alcoholic is doing something for them that they could and should be doing themselves. Enabling creates an environment where the alcoholic can continue his or her destructive behavior. Enabling is the worst thing you can do if you want to help an alcoholic.

Enabling behaviors can include: Calling in sick for an alcoholic because they were too hung-over or drunk to go to work or school; making excuses for an alcoholic’s drinking or behavior; lying for an alcoholic, bailing them out of jail, or paying their legal fees; paying an alcoholic’s bills or loaning them money; giving them several “second chances” to change their behavior.

If you have done any of the above, it is important that you seek help yourself before trying to help an alcoholic. Al-anon is a great program for those that have been affected by an alcoholic. The program teaches loved ones how not to enable the alcoholic in their lives and allows them to be able to help an alcoholic in a healthy way.

Once you have sought help yourself, you are in a position to help an alcoholic. It is important that you don’t allow an alcoholic’s drinking and behavior to stay a secret. Don’t cover up for an alcoholic and don’t lie for them. A common saying in Alcoholics Anonymous is “Secrets keep us sick.” Covering up for an alcoholic’s behavior not only allows them to keep drinking without consequences but it encourages the idea that alcoholism is a shameful disease.

In order to truly help an alcoholic, it is important that you do not judge or label them. If you pass judgment on an alcoholic or potential alcoholic, or shame them, this will feed their alcoholism and provide a great excuse to keep going. Alcoholics use drinking to deal with their emotions. Approaching an alcoholic in a judgmental manner is not the best way to help an alcoholic.

Finally, often the best way you can help an alcoholic is by offering them a way to get help. Don’t try to force an alcoholic into treatment, but do let them know that you will not be enabling them to continue drinking. Make sure you have treatment options available if the alcoholic decides they need help. It may be best to research these options before you try to help an alcoholic.

Remember that you cannot get or keep an alcoholic sober but this does not mean you cannot help an alcoholic.

If you or someone you know wants to help an alcoholic, call us at (877) 711-HOPE (4673) or visit us online at

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