Alcohol and the Family: Destructive Types of Social Support and Organizations for Victims of Alcoholics ■ Codependency and Enabling Codependency and enabling generally occur together. Codependency (which some call co-alcoholism ) refers to a relationship pattern, and enabling refers to a set of specific behaviors (Doweiko 2015). Codependency is defined as the behavior displayed by either addicted or nonad- dicted family members (codependents) who identify with the alcohol addict and cover up the excessive drinking behavior. An example of code- pendency is when a family member remains silent when empty bottles of vodka, for example, are dis- covered under a bed or in the garage. Enablers are those close to the alcohol addict who deny or make excuses for enabling the excessive drinking. Often, both codependency and enabling are done by the same person. An example is the husband who calmly conspires and phones his wife’s place of employment and reports that his wife has the stomach flu when the reality is that she is too drunk or hung over to realize it is time to go to work. Such a husband is both codependent and an enabler. He lies to cover up his wife’s addiction and enables her not to face her irresponsible drinking behavior. In this example, the husband is respon- sible for perpetuating the spouse’s addiction. Even quiet toleration of the alcoholic’s addiction enables the drinker to continue the drinking behavior. ■ Children of Alcoholics (COAs) and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs) Alcoholism is a disease of the family. Not only is there a significant genetic component that is passed from generation to generation, but the drinking problems of a single family member affect all other family members. The family envi- ronment and genetics can perpetuate a vicious and destructive cycle. “Alcoholism is also known as a family disease. Alcoholics may have young, teenage, or grown-up children; they have wives or husbands; they have brothers or sisters; they have parents or other relatives. An alcoholic can totally disrupt family life and cause harmful effects that can last a lifetime” (Parsons 2003). Children liv- ing with a nonrecovering alcoholic score lower on measures of family cohesion, intellectual-cultural orientation, active-recreational orientation, and independence. They also usually experience higher levels of conflict within the family. Research findings indicate the following: There are 18 million alcoholics in the U.S. according to the National Council on Alco- holism and Drug Dependence. As a result, an estimated 26.8 million children are exposed, at varying degrees, to alcoholism in the family. codependency behavior displayed by either addicted or nonaddicted fam- ily members (codependents) who identify with the alcohol addict and cover up the excessive drinking behavior, allow- ing it to continue and letting it affect the codependent’s life enablers those close to the alcohol addict who deny or make excuses for enabling his or her excessive drinking KEY TERMS 272 Chapter 8 ❚ ALCOHOL: BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS
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