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Are You Enabling An Alcoholic?

Updated on October 8, 2013

Points to Consider

Alcoholism takes no prisoners! It is a disease that not only affects the alcoholic, but also the friends and loved ones of the alcoholic.

It is an ugly, demoralizing, debilitating, and dehumanizing disease that will run amuck through families until it is faced and dealt with, or until the alcoholic dies from it.

There will be no sugar-coating in this article. Alcoholism does not improve over time; it only worsens. As the disease progresses relationships can and will be torn apart, and families can and will be forever negatively affected.

Not a rosy outlook, right? The alcoholic, of course, has a choice. They can continue to drink, they can seek help, or they can die.

But what of the loved ones of the alcoholic? What future can they look forward to? What should they do while their loved one slowly destroys his or her life?

From one who knows
From one who knows | Source

The Definition of Enabling

Our old friend Merriam-Webster tells us that enabling means to provide with the means and opportunity to continue an action, or to give silent affirmation.

With regards to alcoholism, enabling refers to family members and loved ones establishing an environment that, in effect, encourages further damaging behavior on the part of the alcoholic.

But why would they do that you ask? Why would loved ones, aware of the dangers of alcoholism, provide the means and opportunity for the alcoholic to continue drinking? Certainly they know of the risks. Certainly they have experienced the fear and anxiety, the mental and/or physical abuse. Why would anyone in their right mind do anything to prolong that kind of pain?

It is a complicated scenario for sure. Oftentimes, being around an alcoholic, family members become every bit as sick as the alcoholic, and do not even realize that they are enabling.

My wife understands what is at stake and how to deal with me
My wife understands what is at stake and how to deal with me | Source

Reasons for Enabling

Oh what a tangled web we weave! The dynamics of a family affected by alcoholism are so very complicated, and the reasons for enabling are too many to mention all in this article. However, the main reasons most often seen are as follows:

· Lack of information about the disease, or a lack of awareness concerning suggested strategies

· Misguided love

· The need to take care of our loved ones

· The desire to avoid confrontation with the alcoholic

· Avoidance of further ugliness

· The need to have others believe we are nice, thus building our self-esteem

· The Martyr Complex

· The need to control a situation, even if it means doing something harmful

· Thoughts that we are somehow to blame for an alcoholic’s behavior

So what does it look like when we enable an alcoholic? What are some actions that are done, possibly with the best of intentions, but which really end up being harmful?

Let us chat about alcoholism

Examples of Enabling Behavior

Remember our definition of enabling…..to provide with the means and opportunity. The following would be considered enabling when dealing with an alcoholic or, for that matter, any addict:

· Giving money to someone so that they can buy booze

· Getting into arguments with the alcoholic, thus giving them a reason to drink

· Calling the alcoholic’s place of work and “covering” for them when they can’t make it to work

· Making excuses for an alcoholic’s drinking e.g. they are under a lot of pressure lately

· Accepting excuses from an alcoholic

· Having booze around the house

· Drinking with an alcoholic

· Continually trying to fix them or cure them

· Continually giving them one more chance, and then another, and then another

· Living in denial that there really is a problem

And on and on we go! Perhaps you recognize some of these behaviors?

Brain chemistry and addiction

How to Stop Enabling

I could say this in very detailed language but really there is only one way to stop enabling, and that is to set boundaries and then stick with them.

Understand this very well: the alcoholic is making a choice to drink. You do not have to make a choice to grow sick with them. If you have children, you are harming your children by enabling the alcoholic in your family, and for your sake and the sake of your children you need to immediately establish boundaries that spell out acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

It might sound something like this.

I love you, but I will no longer enable you in your drinking. I will no longer call in sick for you. I will no longer give you money, or go to the store and buy you booze. I will no longer be the victim of your verbal or physical abuse, and I will no longer walk on egg shells in hopes that I do not upset you.

Of course there are other boundaries you may choose to establish, but whatever you outline it is imperative that you do not waver from the boundaries that you have set. If you do, you will once again be enabling and all of your work up to that point will have been wasted.

And what if the boundaries are broken? What should you do?

What are you willing to do? The consequences should be laid out quite clearly so there is no doubt about them. Will you leave the marriage and take the kids with you? Will you kick the alcoholic out of the house? It may come to that and you will have to be willing to follow through on those consequences. If you don’t, the cycle will continue and you and your family will continue to be dragged down into the alcoholic Black Hole.

My son is well-versed in dealing with an alcoholic
My son is well-versed in dealing with an alcoholic | Source

Is there an alcoholic in your life?

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Final Points

It really comes down to how much misery you are willing to endure. If you love the alcoholic, and if you truly want to help them, then you will set boundaries and not deviate from those boundaries.

Remember, you are not only fighting for the life of your alcoholic loved one, but you are also fighting for your own life and well-being.

It is not your fault that your loved one is sick. You are in no way to blame. However, you are responsible for your actions once you know about the nature of alcoholism.

Last but certainly not least. I know some of you are thinking about setting boundaries, having the boundaries broken, kicking the alcoholic out of the house and then hearing the news that your loved one, who you forced out of the house, drank himself/herself to death. How could you ever live with the guilt and shame?

Hear me on this point: nobody ever forced a drink down the mouth of an alcoholic. It is a conscious choice to drink, even though it is a disease. There is help for all alcoholics if they are willing to accept that help. You, the loved one, are not responsible for the choice an alcoholic makes.

There is an old story I remember from a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that I once attended. A guy and his family are in a small fishing boat when suddenly dad gets a bite on his line. As he struggles to reel the fish in, it becomes apparent that there is a very large fish on the end of the line. Suddenly a man-eating shark breaks the water fifty feet away. Mom and the kids are screaming at dad to cut the line, cut the line, we are going to die if the shark gets into the boat.

Dad says, “But if I cut the line I’ll lose my bait.”

Words to consider!

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      I can tell you (as I think you already knew), I dated an alcoholic and was the enabler back then. I learned more than I'd like to about enabling during this time and will say this the cycle with continue until the enabler stops enabling. This one truly hit home for me, because I still remember that time all too well and probably will never forget it. Thanks truly for the words of wisdom here and from experience you are completely correct. Have of course voted way up and shared, too!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, I always feel bad when I read that one of my friends had to live through this. I'm sorry you experienced it but I'm happy you got out of it. Thank you my dear!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I know about enabling thankfully not from personal situation. I see our neighbor drink everyday and when his significant other is in town they get drunk every night. He feels he does not have a problem and even talks about alcoholics...This is amazing to me. Fortunately he does not drink and drive and does his drinking at home. Enabling is also a word used in other situations..I see my good friend make excuses for her son's behavior..though not drug related he has no responsibility in life and won't even fix a snack for himself. He is 18 and sometimes I have seen his mother cut up a large piece of chicken for him..She needs help now due to a very sick husband and he is never there to help. To me this enabling is almost as serious...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, for sure, enabling is the same no matter it be with alcoholism, any addiction, or just any negative behavior....and it is damaging.

      Thank you my faithful follower.

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 4 years ago from USA

      I was married to a chronic alcoholic, dated another for a couple years, had an alcoholic stepfather, and after all this, decided to become a drug and alcohol counselor. All this to say.... I had enabling down to an art form, and learned how to stop. But the one thing I didn't expect when I started setting and enforcing those boundaries was the way outsiders would see me as a shrew/dictator who "gave ultimatums."

      Still, it was worth it to separate and find myself in a place where the way I feel isn't dependent on what other people around me are doing.

      Voted well & shared.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Thank you for sharing this Billy.

      Without going into detail, I am well aware of the terrible toll alcoholism takes on those around the individual. Having made the choice to not enable required some sessions with family at a counselors office. It was the added support and insight needed when taking on the unenviable task of refusing to enable.

      Much love to you,

      Beckie XO

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I have a friend who is constantly putting out the fires started by his drug-abusing ex-girlfriend, who is also the mother of his children. He is a classic enabler, and I fear for him, because his health is suffering.

      I've recommended Al-Anon, but he isn't ready yet.

      Good Hub, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Will, you just hit the nail on the head...he isn't ready for it yet. Until they are they need to keep suffering a bit more. I don't want that to sound mean in any way; it's just the truth. It is an ugly situation and I hope your friend finds his way out of it. Thank you Sir! I appreciate this comment and you stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beckie, it is a brutal decision to not enable. We want to help, but many times in trying to help we only make things worse. I'm glad you got counseling for it, and I'm so happy you are no longer in that situation.

      love,

      billy

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      jellygator, thank you for that comment. Yes, people will judge you to be cruel and a dictator....uncaring....unloving....but it is the only way to stop the cycle so at least you can come out semi-healthy.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Bill,

      When one stops enabling, then one is showing the greatest gift of love one can give to an alcoholic, with the exception (if the alcoholic wants it) of getting professional help. An enabler certainly does not understand the continued devastation he or she is causing on one's family, as the enabler is also very sick too. Each member of the family of an alcoholic is also sick in some form or another and must get treatment too.

      Excellent hub here as to the truths of this terrible, terrible disease, and I am so glad you brought up the enabler's role in all of this, which is very necessary information to know in order to stop the continued madness, generation after generation.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing.

      Hugs and blessings, Faith Reaper

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Hmmmm. The last line is definitely food for thought......

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, don't you love it? Put a little barbecue sauce on it and slow-roast it over an open fire. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Faith and it's nice to see you as always. The enabler has a tough job....showing love without being worsening the problem. One of the biggest problems is that most enablers do not understand the damage they are doing. They are just trying to help in any way that they can, and of course they are fearful, and on and on.

      Hopefully this will help someone to end the enabling cycle.

      Thank you my dear.

      love and blessings,

      bill

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      This are classic examples of enabling. This is well written and easy to understand hub that is highly useful in spotting an enabler and perhaps getting the alcoholic the help they need in addition to some tough love.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Good points, Bill. The enabler is as much at fault than a person who has a drinking issue. But again the enabler worries to put things out of hand by revolting, and thus the drinking continues.

      thank god I was not put in such a scenario, but if would, I know I would be a very good enabler :(

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Express, it is a tough issue. Most loved ones think they are helping the alcoholic when in fact they are making matters worse. Thank you for the visit and comment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruchira, most people are good enablers. We all want to love and help, but oftentimes we are doing more harm than good by helping. :) Thank you!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      I am fortunate that I have not had to deal with this directly but am glad you wrote this hub to help people. This hub applies to other types of enabling too and I have been guilty of that at some point in my life. Great hub.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Another gutsy hub on a very serious subject. I'm happy that I don[t have this issue in my family, but I do have a couple of friends who are world class drinkers and I'm often stumped about what I can possibly do about it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Russ, in the end you can do nothing about it, and that is the brutally hard truth There is help out there for them if they choose to seek it, but until then they will have to suffer. Thanks my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, you are absolutely correct...enabling reaches into many facets of life. Most parents will enable their children from time to time, and that's okay if in a limited fashion of course.

      Anyway, thank you so much for another visit.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      You've opened a can of worms with this one, haven't you, Bill. There are more enablers over here than anyone could shake a bottle at. There are those drumming up support for a 'Prohibtion-style' ban on the sale of booze in Britain, punishing the rest of us who like a drink in the evening with or after a meal, a quiet couple in the pub with some convivial conversation, a bit of atmosphere.

      There are also chain retailers of alcohol and supermarkets, who price the wares to government guidelines and will not sell to under-25's. Anybody around that age has to show an ID, as they do in a pub/restaurant/bar.

      Then there are - increasingly in this part of town - those 'Off-license' retailers on the back street or even high street who, because they don't (officially at least) drink for religious reasons, don't really know the marques and the taste of them. They're selling the stuff blindly, sometimes buying from 'visiting opportunists' because the product is cheap and they can make a bigger 'rake-off.

      They won't insist on ID's, allowing under-18's to buy. At some stage they'll get 'run-in' by the law and fined. They can afford that. Some wines are diluted or taste odd, likewise spirits.

      Vodka has hit the streets lately, made with industrial cleaners or other deadly chemicals, fit to send you blind at best, to the mortuary/morgue at worst with a stomach worth studying for toxicologists! The 'alkies', or even normal drinkers, see cheaper products on the shelf and their eyes light up.

      There should be a law that states an alcohol retailer should smell/taste the products he/she sells, and know how the real thing (not Coke) smells/tastes. That way they safeguard others. Trouble is, you can't nursemaid adults.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alan, that was fascinating to hear about those situations in the UK. A ban on booze in the UK? Like that would have any chance of passing. Been there and done that in the U.S. and we proved quite nicely it won't work

      Vodka made from industrial cleaners? I must live a sheltered life. I have no doubt that is happening here as well but I just haven't heard of it. Hell, booze is so easy to get here I can't imagine why anyone would buy off the streets. It is easily our number one abused drug and it's as easy to buy as milk here.

      Anyway, thanks for weighing in. I appreciate the education.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      This was a very good hub Bill, and so very true...The one thing on your list of examples of enabling that I just have a tough time grappling with is "getting into arguments with the alcoholic, thus giving them reasons to drink." The alcoholic is often very good at drawing you into the argument, just so they can use that as an excuse. If the argument itself is that you say "no, I'm not giving you money to buy beer" or "no, I won't drive you to the bar"----then how can you help but get into an argument?

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The last line in your piece is the most important one. Until you cut that bait which causes the danger, all is lost. One cannot see the forest for the trees. Awesome and up, as well as an inspiration to us all.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, I understand what you are saying, and the quick answer is you can't avoid an argument in that case...other than to just walk away. Alcoholics are looking for a reason to argue; it takes the burden off of them and places the blame on someone else. I have had to say "I love you" and walk away. There is no other way to avoid the ugliness that will follow.

      Thanks for the excellent point.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Deb, and that last line is the toughest to do. There comes a time when you just have to tell the alcoholic that he/she is on their own, and if they want help it is available.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      You covered the classic examples of enabling very well and it is a tough situation for many, including parents, siblings and friends. However, if you live with an alcoholic it is not always simple to get out and going to Alanon is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your children. Instead of arguing you learn to say "I'm sorry you feel that way," which of course is BS, but you don't want to fight. Alanon people will give you emotional support and understanding of your role in the relationship. I agree that you are not responsible for the alcoholic's drinking no matter what he or she says.

      Long after you say no more money, no calling in work, etc. and all those other things but he is still drinking, getting away can be difficult as some people have no money and nowhere to go. Some alcoholics are violent, and they can be stalkers even after you have gotten away. One of my friends was killed by her husband when she tried to leave. It takes courage to make the break when the person you married won't stop drinking. This is a good topic and a big problem for many people, which is apparent by the volume of comments.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I could never be an enabler again. It only allowed him to keep going down the path that took his life. Great hub Bill..Many need this info...

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Bill, my father was a terrible alcoholic. My mother stayed with him for 30 years. I was 5 months old when she left him in the 60's. It was very difficult on her because she loved him until the day she died. We also lived in a small town and she took a lot of grief for leaving him from community members - they judged her... I never did get that because they knew how awful he was. A different time... It was a rough road for her but she finally set those boundaries. I grew up with much happier memories than my older brothers and sisters (I am the last of 8). I am very thankful to my mother for that.

      Thanks for sharing this information. It is hard but necessary to set those boundaries.

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 4 years ago from New York

      Great hub about understanding something that many people do not get. I have a flaming alcoholic in my life too, and it is so sad to see that person just not listening to anyone. It can be hard not to enable a relative you love very much. Thank you for this hub.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby! I hope those who need this read it. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Susan, it is extremely hard. There is no soft landing in what I am suggesting. I know that....but I also know the damage that can be done to families and in my opinion it is their health that needs to be cared for. The alcoholic has made their choice. Thank you for weighing in on this and sharing your personal story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bobbi, it is nearly impossible not to enable a loved one, but it is so important to stop it. If the alcoholic can't be saved then the loved ones need to save themselves. :) I'm sorry for the pain you have had to endure.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, it is very, very hard to walk away from an alcoholic loved one. I am fully and painfully aware of that. I am also an advocate of tough love when it comes to alcoholics. Everything you say is true my friend; there is no easy answer to this problem. :) Thank you Pamela!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. You already know my body will not tolerate alcohol for more than 30 seconds.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      Billy, I am also an advocate of tough love also as enabling is destructive to the alcoholic too. I just wanted to share a helping group as living with an alcoholic can be very lonely too. It is amazing how many of us have been touched by alcoholism in one way or another.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      You forgot to mention lying to the children about the real reason why Daddy fell over the couch and threw up on the living room rug.

      Yes, alcoholism affects all family members regardless of how good you think you are at covering up the evidence.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Martin! I know the feeling. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, I don't want you to think that I had a problem with your comment because I didn't at all. You are very correct that Al Anon can be very helpful. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Phoenix, and I have seen examples of that for decades.

      Have a great weekend my friend.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      And the one thing that is not mentioned, even if the alcoholic follows these rules and quits drinking to avoid these consequences, they will still have the same issues that made them start drinking. And will mostly likely still have the same personality.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nancy, there is no doubt about it, unless they commit to changing who they are. That's why I belong to AA. :) Thank you and have a great weekend.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Oh....bil. I must go down that old road. OK, I can do this.

      Years ago, in one of my former lives, I was a clueless enabler...meaning, I wasn't familiar with the concept. Once I was, I then, became a "sneaky" enabler.

      Then, I hit that much-discussed brick wall......and the &%$# hit the fan. Due to my particular type of personality....I then went all the damned way to the opposite side of things.....No time to explain now....but, suffice it to say....Lord, I pity anyone who may erroneously expect me to be the enabling kind......It just ain't pretty, no more!! Great hub. Especially great, being DONE with it!..UP+++

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I am a firm believer in tough love when it comes to addiction. There is no patting on the head and saying everything will be alright from me....it's in your face and tell it like it is. This crap is deadly, and that's how I treat it, like life or death. No, enabling solves nothing other than to delay the problem.

      Thanks as always; I'll circle the wagons with you any old time. :)

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Making the choice to stop being an enabler is something you really have to do for yourself alone. There is certainly no guarantee that it will change the other person's behavior. You have to accept that once you no longer give the alcoholic or addict what they want, they may choose to cut you out of their life.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sherry, that is very true. It's a roll of the dice but sometimes it is the only way for you to stay healthy. Thank you for that insight. I appreciate it.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it's all in laying down the boundaries and the willingness to be firm-sometimes very-when they are crossed. True indeed!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, it is not an easy thing to do, but sometimes it is very necessary. Thank you!

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      This one certainly touches home. I realized my co-dependency at a fairly young age but chose to ignore it. That, was not the smartest decision I ever made. It haunted me into my early 30's and, while I was married to a very high functioning alcoholic. After my divorce, I became involved with someone who was eventually diagnosed as a poly-substance abuser. One crisis after another was normal in that relationship but I finally had enough. I enrolled in a family program for those living with an addict and the light finally turned on. I'm over it. I am a firm believer in 12-step programs and support groups. Finally, I understand the concept of choices and am now able to make the choices that keep my world sane. It took me a while but I am perfectly willing to lose the bait now. :-) You did a terrific job on this one Bill. It's a subject that can be painful to discuss but to stop enabling can often save two lives. Awesome job!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, sharing stories like yours is so important. The day of hiding secrets in closets and hoping the problems will disappear are long gone. The more vocal we are about societal problems the more we can help others. Thank you, Kindred, for sharing so that others might learn.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I know a couple of do this with their now 40 year old son. It is such a sad situation. They feel it is better to enable him than to argue or have them mad at them. Wonderful post, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, that is a pretty common reaction. The survivors get so tired of fighting and worrying that they will do just about anything for some relative peace and quiet.

      Thank you for sharing that.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      As always my friend ;great words of wisdom from one who knows and words which I am sure will benefit many others who are finding their way or are about to start their way on their own personal journey.

      Here's to a long time to come of hub sharing for us both on here my friend.

      Have a great day.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, it is a lovely thoughts...many more years of shared hubs. I can live with that dream.

      Thank you my dear friend.

      love,

      billy

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Bill, Vodka made with industrial cleaners has been 'on the go' from the Russian Federation for years now. A private film crew went east to investigate and found a tightly-regulated Mafskia organisation behind it. There's a lot of them here, and no doubt they'll bring their 'specialities'. There was a Russian food shop at the end of the road but it went bust - hardly ever open. Maybe it was a 'front' and they found premises somewhere less overlooked (it was sited on a road junction, on a busy shopping street). If you don't hear from me...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alan, we hear a lot about the Russian mob in the eastern United States. Not so much out west, but I have no doubt they have found a toehold in other parts of the country as well. They have been mentioned as being quite ruthless and I have no doubt.

      If I don't hear from you I'll just assume you found some good vodka! :)

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Nastrovja! Ve have Mr Lancaster securely sedated, comrade, on his vay to Lubjanka's new holiday camp in the friendly heart of Moskva. As you say in your part of the effete West, 'Cheers!'

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL....Alan, excellent! Live long and prosper in your new.....cell?

    • jcressler profile image

      James E Cressler 4 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Good article Bill and thanks for sharing your insights. I agree with what you wrote and many of the fine comments above. I would only add, from my experience, the prime source for much of the enabling is a bad conscience. Family, friends, bosses, and even the stanger on the street feel guilty that the alcoholic has fallen to a pathetic state. The alcoholic tells us we are to blame for their situation and station in life, and so we have to do what they want. So, to appease our conscience we reach for our purse or wallet we've already started enabling, allowing them to drink and drug another day. Like my dad used to say, "when a hundred dollars will solve all their problems, then a hundred dollars isn't what they need."

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      jcressler, a great comment and I agree completely. It is a tough road for the loved ones of an alcoholic. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

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      klehman 3 years ago

      Thanks Billy. An important topic for sure. I agree with you on the role of the enabler only out of experience but I think the effects of the alcoholism are oversimplified here as there are a lot of additional factors that attribute to an alcoholics behaviors such as other mental conditions most notably being depression. The idea that the drinking is a choice and simply a matter of them stopping is true, but only after they manage to reach that clarity. The effects of alcoholism on the brain of an alcoholic is very insidious and will cause the alcoholic to irrationally rationalize any reason to drink. When it reaches this stage it could be an overall sense of hopelessness and feeling that something is wrong with them and there is nothing they can do about it. It essentially will also trick the enabler and help encourage finding those reasons to drink. The enabler often providing a bright spot in the darkness of their disease. Once that bright spot goes out can be a dangerous area as well but shouldn't prevent the enabler from walking away. Simply telling them that you love them and will support their recovery when they are ready but until then you will not continue to watch them destroy themselves. If they are ready to change this may be the trigger to help them realize that their downward spiral can be stopped. It also seems that the only option being discussed here is to walk away from the alcoholic. Not all alcoholics being equal if they are abusive then it isn't an option generally to try to also encourage them into a treatment program and being willing to do this with them and can also be used as an ultimatum. The alcoholic didn't ask for this disease either and the manner in which the addiction can take hold of them can be very difficult for the alcoholic to understand because it becomes such a selfish state of being. Mix that with depression which is also a very self centered illness the alcoholics world becomes very much looking inward at only themselves. To merely say it is a choice implies it is only a matter of will power which has been shown to not be the case. The will power only seems to come into play for the true alcoholic once they are pulled out of that inward thinking and are able to step out of themselves to see what they are doing to their loved ones and also themselves. The fact that an alcoholic will continue to drink and start to damage their health and risk losing everything that matters to them in their lives just being something that they actively say to themselves. "I think I'm going to destroy my life today". I refuse to believe that is the case. Educating yourself about the condition can be very powerful and as mentioned I would encourage people to reach out to al-anon or AA groups to help give yourselves the tools to truly help. If the alcoholic hits rock bottom unfortunately more often than not before they are fully aware that it is a problem they are often able to pull themselves out of the fog. The alcoholic at that point of realization then often has a choice of climbing out of the hole they created or to continue digging. It is difficult for people to understand what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic. I heard it best said as "I could try and explain to you how an alcoholic thinks but first I would need to strip from your mind all common sense and rational thought". The mind is very powerful and the effects of the alcohol on the brain are very pronounced. I appreciate the topic here as it is important to try and understand the illness. Society places such a negative stigma on the condition it is often detrimental to helping those who do suffer from it so talking about it is often the only way to get people to understand. Thanks.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      klehman, there is nothing for me to add here....thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with us all.

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      Jess1801 3 years ago

      I am currently a classic example of an enabler to a former drug addict now alcoholic husband, who in his sober moments I love with all my heart. I wait on him hand and foot, I make sure he has everything he needs on a daily basis and most importantly I make sure he doesn't go a day without alcohol. It's not that I want him to remain an alcoholic, in fact the 12 days total where he didn't drink in the 5 and a half years we have been together were absolute bliss, it's just in some crazy f$&@ed up way I believe the alcohol is like the cherry on top for his happiness. That finishing touch that I can't and will never be able to provide. I'm selfish, I guess it's in my enabling personality..... I keep forgiving him after the massive fights and the verbal abuse, all I keep hearing is how I'm so incredibly flawed in every possible way..... He tells me it's my fault and how I don't respect him. I'm starting to think he is right. I am a flawed person, i ticked every box on the reasons you gave above for a person to be an enabler. I would be a therapists dream patient. If I do respect him I wouldn't enable him to do what is killing him every day. Watching a beautiful, lOving and caring sober soul get eaten away by the demon in a red wine bottle. I'm so scared of him completely cutting me out of his life. Im so scared of him being alone. I'm so scared of losing my best friend, I guess you could say.... My addiction.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jess, thank you for sharing that. I know it wasn't easy to admit all of that. You don't need me to tell you anything; you seem to understand the situation quite well.

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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      An update on my friend...his ex-girlfriend overdosed and died a few months ago. Now he's enabling some of his children, but I think he's finally coming to grips with the reality that he's a big part of the problem.

      As always, it's a family affair.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Will, thank you for sharing that....it is a family affair and it takes no prisoners. For me, it's a matter of "if only".....but I need to just clean up my mess of the past and move forward.

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      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I'm a recovering enabler myself, Billy, and I finally had to leave that 'family' situation behind some 18 years ago. But just last year, one of them contacted me to ask for help. It was old times all over again, and I learned that recovery is not 'cured'. I declined, and that was the end of it...for now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Will, recovery never ends. My life is wonderful but I know it can end tomorrow if I am not vigilant. You made a tough decision but it was the right one. Thanks again for your honesty.

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      Anon 3 years ago

      My husband of 6 years has became a habitual abandoner of me and our 3 year old son, I filed for divorce once, but he promised to get better. He stayed sober 3 weeks. He has committed felony manslaughter while driving drunk, spent under 3 years in prison. He has been physically and emotionally abusive to us. He has did horrific things to us, once discharging a gun directly over my sons head. About 3 weeks ago I went to work ( he will not work) he said I love you, and when I came home he was gone, with our sons dog. He has been living in the woods, mind you with no clothes, no way to bath ever since. He finally called and asked when he could pick up his clothes. He came while I was at work, and he took a lot more than just personal items.( mind you, he didn't ask about our child). He has no car drive due to the fact he tore up drinking and driving. He drives around on his atv with his dog. He also has a pornography, marijuana/ pill addiction. I have refiled a divorce . My dilemma; I do not want him to have any visitation with my son. His parents enable him in every possible way. I am so grateful he is gone as now my child and I have peace, but I can not risk my sons safety. Any advice?

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anon, I am truly sorry for your troubles. Advice? It appears you have done what you need to do...if he returns get a restraining order against him, although in truth they are fairly ineffective. I suspect he will drink himself into a state of stupor and not really be a problem in the future. It sounds like he is well on his way to an early grave, sadly. The rest is up to him. Get on with your new life.

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      Leigh 2 years ago

      How can I get your permission to use this material (not others comments) in my journal that may be published. my journal covers a 23 year marriage to an alcoholic and I am about done! Your enabling information is very informative.

      thank you

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leigh, email me and we'll talk about it...holland1145@yahoo.com

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      Louise Elcross 11 months ago from UK

      I cannot thank you enough for this hub. I have been to hell and back with my alcoholic daughter and everything you have said is true. Thank you. X

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, louiseelcross....best wishes in a very difficult situation. If you ever need to vent, you can email me at holland1145@yahoo.com

    • louiseelcross profile image

      Louise Elcross 11 months ago from UK

      Thank you. X

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are welcome, Louise!

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