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Enmeshment can be defined as two or more individuals who do not have healthy boundaries and limits that separate themselves. Enmeshment can entail excessive affection, concern or attention.

In an enmeshed family system, boundaries among individuals are blurred or nonexistent. Members of the family become overly involved in each other’s lives and emotions, leading to a lack of personal autonomy and independence. This can lead to a range of negative consequences, including difficulties in establishing healthy relationships, low self-esteem, and a higher risk of developing addictive behaviors.

Enmeshment is often observed in families where substance abuse or addiction is present. Family members may enable the addictive behavior by overlooking the consequences or attempting to control the addiction. This can prevent the individual struggling with addiction from truly facing the consequences of their actions and inhibiting their recovery process.

Understanding enmeshment is fundamental for addiction treatment professionals because it helps them identify the underlying dynamics that might be perpetuating addictive behaviors. By recognising enmeshment, professionals can work with individuals both in and outside of rehab to establish healthier boundaries, encourage personal growth, and create independence.

Enmeshment in Families

Enmeshment is when family members are overly involved in each other’s lives, leading to a lack of independence and personal boundaries. This often starts due to trauma or illness in the family and can continue through generations because it feels familiar.

It’s important for families to have boundaries to ensure each person can develop independently, respecting their needs, feelings, and decisions. In enmeshed families, these boundaries are missing, leading to children feeling responsible for their parents’ emotional well-being and unable to pursue their own identities.

To grow into emotionally healthy adults, individuals need to separate from their parents and form their own identities, a process known as individuation. This means developing one’s own beliefs, values, and goals. Enmeshed families hinder this process, keeping individuals emotionally dependent and unable to mature.

Enmeshment can seem like closeness but is unhealthy, creating emotional dependencies and preventing personal growth. It can lead to problems like low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, anxiety, and difficulty in establishing healthy relationships.

Breaking free from enmeshment involves:

  1. Setting Boundaries
    Creating physical and emotional space between you and your family members allows for personal growth and independence.
  2. Discovering Yourself
    Understanding your interests, values, and goals outside of your family’s influence.
  3. Overcoming Guilt
    Recognizing and challenging the guilt that comes from setting boundaries or pursuing your own interests, which is often used to manipulate in enmeshed families.

These steps are essential for developing a healthy, independent self, free from the constraints of enmeshed family dynamics.

To address this issue, therapists and counsellors may use techniques such as family therapy, individual counselling, and support groups. These interventions aim to help individuals and their families better understand enmeshment patterns and develop healthier ways of relating to one another.

It’s important to remember that enmeshment is not limited to families affected by addiction; it can also be found in various other contexts. Understanding the concept and its implications can be valuable for anyone seeking to build healthier relationships and overcome challenges associated with enmeshment patterns.

    Addiction and Mental Health

    Treatment Services

    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specializing in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa, and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance, the organization facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualized care that addresses the physical, mental, and social needs of patients.

    Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.

    Inpatient Rehab

    Our rehab care is a good option if you are at risk of experiencing strong withdrawal symptoms when you try stop a substance. This rehab option would also be recommended if you have experienced recurrent relapses or if you have tried a less-intensive treatment without success.


    If you're committed to your sobriety but cannot take a break from your daily duties for an inpatient program. Outpatient rehab treatment might suit you well if you are looking for a less restricted format for addiction treatment or simply need help with mental health.


    Therapy can be good step towards healing and self-discovery. If you need support without disrupting your routine, therapy offers a flexible solution for anyone wishing to enhance their mental well-being or work through personal issues in a supportive, confidential environment.

    Mental Health

    Are you having persistent feelings of being swamped, sad or have sudden surges of anger or intense emotional outbursts? These are warning signs of unresolved trauma mental health. A simple assesment by a mental health expert could provide valuable insights into your recovery.

    Finding the right rehab close to you is simple with WeDoRecover. Our network includes the finest rehab centers, ensuring personalised, quality care for your recovery needs. Let Gareth Carter and our empathetic team help guide you to a center that feels right for you, offering expert care and support. Start your healing today by choosing a rehab that's not just close to you, but also that truly cares about your loved ones recovery.

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