Helping or Enabling an Alcoholic?

We Do Recover

Friends and family often attempt to “help” an alcoholic, yet they can end up making it easier for the alcoholic to continue their drinking and everyone stands by helplessly watching the illness progress.

Although they are desperate to help the person with an addiction to alcohol to stop drinking, they are also trying to keep the family as normal as possible. In the attempt not to disrupt family life, and often with sense of shame that the family is somehow at fault for having brought this drinking problem upon themselves, they end up hiding the alcoholic’s problem, which allows them to continue their drinking.

This behavior is known as Co-Dependence or Enabling and it takes place in many different ways. The dictionary defines the word ‘enable’ as “providing someone with means; to make something possible; to give somebody or something legal authority”.

Enabling permits the alcoholic to get away with their drinking. It enables them to not take full responsibly for their drinking and the resulting negative consequences. Enablers of alcoholics often find themselves ‘mopping up’ after another ‘episode’ and asking themselves how they got themselves into this mess. Codependent enablers of alcoholics let the alcoholic know that that they can drink and behave in any manner they choose and that they will be rescued, protected and sheltered from the full effects of their behaviour.

A helper does something for another person that they cannot do for themselves, however an enabler does something for another person that they could do for themselves, and should do themselves.

Facing Consequences is Necessary

Alcoholic will carry on in ‘denial’ not having to begin to consider that they need alcohol addiction help for as long as people are enabling him. Alcoholics have no reason to make any changes to their lifestyle because everyone is solving their problems for them and helping to hide their need for a drink rehab clinic.

It’s critical to understand that most patients enter alcohol rehab only because they’re forced to, and more importantly, that this has little to do with whether alcoholism treatment is successful or not! So the old lie that the alcoholic must ‘hit rock bottom’ and enter rehab willingly for it to work is simply untrue. Due to the illness, alcoholics have a diminished awareness of just how bad their drinking has become and need professional rehab counselling to face the truth. The only time that problem drinkers think of changing is when they are forced to face the consequences of their behavior and begin to take responsibility for their alcoholism recovery.

It is not easy for friends and families of alcoholics to let them face the consequences. Many times the consequences of their drinking affects the rest of the family too, so it is easier to step in and ‘help’ in some way.

Tough Choices are Necessary

Looking for alternative ways of dealing with the negative results of the alcoholic’s actions is imperative, rather than rescuing and ‘fixing’ the trouble. An example of this is to take the children to friends or family and to allow the alcoholic to come back to an empty house. Please contact for individualised and practical help for alcoholic’s families. It is really difficult to stick to these tough choices, however this ‘tough love’ will likely have better results than enabling the alcoholic. In some cases, people have even left their spouses to protect themselves and the children.

Seek Professional Help

It is often is necessary to seek professional help, as waiting for the alcoholic to stop drinking will not solve the problem. Unfortunately, in many cases even when the alcoholic stops drinking and seeks help for himself, there may still be problems that remain in the family. The dysfunctional has become the norm and the adjustment is just as difficult to handle.

Families that are dealing with an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic are advised to also look for help and support from recovery centers or facilities through these difficult times. We offer impartial and expert quit drinking advice on private alcohol detox clinics in the UK, South Africa and Thailand.

Scroll to top