Alcohol Dependency, Enabling, and Alcohol Relapse

It is worthy of note to point out something that family members who have been negatively affected by the alcoholism of another family member clearly do not realize. It appears that by protecting the alcohol dependent person with falsehoods and dishonesty to those outside the family, these well-intentioned family members have in essence created a condition that makes it easier for the alcohol addicted individual to carry on and advance with his or her damaging, detrimental daily life.

Clearly, rather than helping the alcohol dependent person and themselves, these family members have in truth become enablers who have inadvertently helped worsen the alcoholic’s drinking problem even more.

The Possibility of a Relapse is Real

Another key alcohol addiction issue concerns alcohol relapses. Relapses take place when an alcohol addicted person has effectively undergone alcohol dependency treatment and then resorts to drinking a number of weeks or months later. At first thought, this circumstance seems contradictory to sound thinking and sounds so implausible that it forces an individual to question why anyone who has gone through the misery of alcohol addiction can return to drinking a short while after successful alcohol treatment and in turn after reaching sobriety. There are, of course, more than a few reasonable reasons for this.

It should be highlighted, on the other hand that alcohol dependency research that has centered on the long-term outcomes of alcoholism has demonstrated-proven that long after the alcohol addicted individual has discontinued his or her drinking, major changes in the way in which the alcoholic’s brain works are still present. As a result, all a recovering alcoholic has to do to involve himself or herself in behaviors that correspond with the alterations that have occurred in the brain is to engage in drinking once again.

The Necessity for A Crucial Lifestyle Transformation

There are other reasons why several recovering alcohol dependent persons return to drinking a few weeks or a few months after achieving sobriety. According to the alcoholism research literature, to make an effective recovery, the alcohol dependent person needs new ways of responding and thinking in order to deal more competently with tough alcohol-related situations that will take place.

Conditions such as returning to the same alcohol addictive atmosphere or to the same geographic location; interacting once again with friends from the time when the alcohol dependent person was drinking in a hazardous manner; or familiar songs, smells, or activities—all of these conditions can bring forth memories that can trigger psychological tension or push hot buttons that influence the recovering alcohol addicted person to engage in irresponsible drinking once again. Unfortunately, all of these situations may not only negate lasting alcohol recovery for the alcohol dependent individual but they can also lead to relapse and therefore negate one’s sobriety.


In an attempt to “protect” the family alcoholic, family members can actually cause unplanned destruction by enabling the harmful drinking behavior of the alcohol dependent person.

The addiction research literature confirms the fact that most individuals who successfully complete alcohol rehabilitation experience at least one relapse. Alcohol addicted persons and their family members need to know this so that they do not get down in the dumps or beleaguered when a relapse occurs.

Fortunately, participation in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and follow-up treatment and education have resulted in more productive, long lasting alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency treatment outcomes, have helped reduce alcohol relapses, and have helped recovering alcohol dependent individuals achieve long standing sobriety.

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