Alcohol Awareness Month – the annual campaign from the National Council
on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) – is nearly over, but the benefits of observing it never end. In
this final blog entry from Turning Point and
our New Jersey alcohol treatment center, we discuss how alcoholism is not a problem that impacts just a single
person. No, alcohol addiction entangles entire families in a number of
ways. In turn, it will take a family to overcome alcohol addiction.
What Are Enabling, Codependence & Enmeshment?
When someone becomes addicted to alcohol, the behaviors they adopt spill
over into all facets of their life, eventually affecting their family
and loved ones. How family members react to the negative changes and dangerous
habit can vary and depends greatly on the individual’s view on alcohol abuse.
Most often, though, family members will begin to engage in one of three
Enabling: Possibly the most common and most hazardous behavior family members of
someone with alcohol addiction is enabling. Someone uses enabling behavior,
or becomes an enabler, when they actually
- encourage alcohol consumption. The problem with spotting and stopping enabling
behavior is that it is rarely as obvious as buying a loved one an alcoholic
beverage or telling them to have another drink at a party. Enabling is
usually subtle, like accepting half-hearted apologies for drunken behavior,
or trying to downplay the harm of alcoholism to avoid uncomfortable situations.
Codependence: Akin to enabling is codependence. A family member who exhibits codependent
behaviors has linked their own self-worth or purpose to the person struggling
with alcohol addiction. In particular, they feel the need to be there
for them but not necessarily help them overcome the problem. As long as
their family member is afflicted by alcoholism, the codependent family
member is “needed,” in their mind at least. This behavior
is dangerous because they may subconsciously encourage alcohol abuse to
keep the cycle going. Simply put “Carrying is seen as Caring”
Enmeshment: A family member who is enmeshed with an alcohol addict essentially experiences
a heightened sense of empathy. If the person with alcohol addiction becomes
depressed due to the self-abusive lifestyle, then the enmeshed individual
will also become depressed, for example. Enmeshment is most common between
parents and an alcohol-addicted child. The problems caused by enmeshment
are significant, as it is likely a “defeated” attitude will
wash over the entire family, making it all the less likely that
alcohol addiction treatments will be pursued.
A Family Problem Requires a Family to Solve
If there is just one thing you take away from Alcohol Awareness Month,
let it be that alcoholism is a family disease. Not only does alcoholism
impact everyone in your family in numerous ways, but it can “spread”
to them as well by leading
to enabling, codependent, or enmeshed behaviors. In order to set things
right and head down a fruitful path of recovery and sobriety, family counseling
will be necessary.
At Turning Point, we offer
family wellness programs that shine the spotlight on how families play a role in both the furthering
of alcohol addiction and the alleviation of it. We have been the first
name in New Jersey alcohol addiction treatments since 1975, so you can
trust us to create personalized, compassionate, and effective programs.
To take the next step towards overcoming alcoholism, you can
review our admissions process,
refer a loved one to our center, or
request admission for yourself today.
Make Today Your Turning Point – 973.380.0905