Alcoholism may be a disease of isolation, but it is rarely an individual problem.
Helping the “enabler” — the person who allows the alcoholic to be an alcoholic — is as critical to treating the disease as helping the alcoholic him or herself.
In fact, some experts believe that “codependency” (the behavior of enablers), may actually be a type of “disease” in itself.
Understanding how “enabling” works is the first step in helping both the alcoholic and the co-dependent seek help.
Who Is An Enabler?
Most often, enablers are persons who genuinely care about the alcoholic — family, friends, co-workers, clergy.
Their love and concern, unfortunately, often leads them to do things that actually help the alcoholic stay that way.
They “cover” for the alcoholic, inventing excuses for absenteeism, tardiness, or inappropriate behavior.
They “save” the alcoholic by taking on the alcoholic’s responsibilities or sharing in the denial of the problem.
Yet, in their attempts to “help,” they are in fact encouraging alcoholic behavior by shielding the alcoholic from the consequences of his or her drinking.
Where To Get Help
If you, or someone you know, needs help with a codependency problem, there are numerous organizations that can provide additional information and referrals.
Check the “Yellow Pages” of your phone directory under “Alcoholism” for local organizations, or call one of the following toll-free hotlines: 800-ALCOHOL or 800-662-HELP.