Family members of alcoholics often focus their energy on the problem being the alcoholic. They do not realize that their involvement and responses play a key role in the alcoholic’s life. Where there is an alcoholic, there is usually an enabler lurking in the background. The enabler is the one that provides care to the alcoholic in a way that is not always healthy.
One of the definitions of “enable” is to “make things possible.” This is exactly what an enabler to an alcoholic does. The enabler makes it possible for the alcoholic to continue the behavior with minimal repercussions. The enabler although thinks they are protecting the alcoholic is actually preventing them from reaching the bottom that they need to hit before recovery.
What counts as enabling?
- Supplying the alcoholic with funds to buy alcohol or other addictions.
- Paying for their personal well-being including food, shelter, clothing, cell phones, transportation
- Paying for restitution, bail, legal fees
- Covering up for their mistakes
- Making excuses for their behavior
What is the best thing you can do to help your alcoholic loved one in a healthy way?
- Focus on yourself – When you are constantly focusing on another human being and worrying about them it takes away from you. The time and energy that you devote worrying about another person is not your responsibility. Practice taking more time out for yourself daily. Get into a new healthy habit and focus on yourself. This could mean taking time to write down your thoughts, going for a walk, or doing something that you enjoy.
- Stop participating – You have the right to not argue. You have the right to walk away from someone that is acting out unreasonably. You have the right to set boundaries and stick to them. By not participating with someone that wants to argue, you are protecting your emotional well-being. When the person is able to talk rationally and calmly then a conversation can occur.
- Find a safe place – If at any time during your relationship with an alcoholic you feel that you or your children are being physically or emotionally harmed, seek a safe place to go. Maybe you can stay with a relative or a close friend. Know that it is your responsibility to protect yourself and children during a transitional time. This does not mean that you have to permanently vacate your alcoholic. It just means that you are finding a safe place for you and your family until further action can be made. Consider this a cool down period and a safe way for you both to make healthier decisions about your relationship towards one another going forward.
An enabler has an addiction too… taking care of their alcoholic. Becoming aware of your role in an alcoholic’s life can help you see your own addictive patterns. Don’t always assume the alcoholic is the only one with the problem. Assess your involvement and look towards making changes. Take baby steps and they will turn into leaps.
You don’t have to do it alone. Find a local support group in your area or online at Al-Anon Family Groups.
This book is the perfect book for in-house personal development. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get well acquainted with the many different aspects of families that are struggling through alcoholism or addiction. Learn how to recognize key behaviors and how to work through them. Recognize patterns that enable your loved ones to stay sick and learn how to correct them.
This book is dedicated to the family members that still suffer with living with alcoholism and addiction in the home. Making change is often the hardest thing we can do, but it is the best solution for ourselves and for our loved ones with addictions. Never fear independent thinking and growth. Move forward and seek the happiness you deserve and want. We are never stuck in a situation. There are always choices to be made and options. There is always opportunity for growth. Take that opportunity and embrace it.