Families Of Alcoholics And Their Contribution To The Disease

The definition of alcoholism can vary from person to person. It is defined by Miriam Webster as continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks. Or, a chronic disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction.

(For me personally an alcoholic is anyone that depends on it. It is someone who needs it to get through a day, or week. It is someone who binge drinks. None the less, it is anyone dependent on it  or its effects.)

It is important for family, friends, and loved ones of an alcoholic to realize that they can not fix, cure, or control the disease. The alcoholic must decide for themselves to quit, bottom line.

You can however find support by attending Al-Anon meetings in your area.  Al-Anon is a 12-Step program modeled on the well-known program for alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous. It provides wonderful support for families of alcoholics. These support groups offer a lot, and will help keep you sane while battling such a nasty disease.

If there are addiction signs such as regular consumption or binge drinking, it is important to know what role you play in disease progression. Alcoholics tend to surround themselves with like-minded people or people who will enable them. By enabling them we allow the disease to progress further.

Friends, family, and loved ones of an alcoholic often fall in to one of the three categories below. Many do not realize that they are actually contributing to the disease.

The Rescuer

The rescuer basically “covers” for the alcoholic. This person will clean up after the alcoholic, deny the problem, and hide the issue. They may take over responsibilities for the alcoholic such as finances, and other areas. The rescuer feels that he/she is protecting the alcoholic. When in reality, covering up and covering for the alcoholic is only contributing to the problem. The rescuers are in denial, therefor they lie to themselves and lie for the alcoholic.

The Provoker

The provoker is one who will punish, chastise, and ridicule the drunken behavior. The provoker doesn’t care who hears, and will tell everyone what an awful person this alcoholic is. The provoker is angry, and the anger brews. The provoker often leaves the alcoholic over time. And takes a grudge with him/her when he/she goes.

The Martyr

The martyr is ashamed of the alcoholic and his/her behavior. The martyr speaks of their misery in dealing with the situation or withdraws completely.  The martyr tries to get the alcoholic to feel guilty for his/her behavior by using emotions and feelings as a tool. What the martyr doesn’t realize is that the only emotions and feelings that can be seen, felt, or heard by an alcoholic is their own. The martyr is often at risk for depression.

It is very important to seek help if you are battling this disease with a friend, family member, or loved one. Although we can’t control the alcoholic or the disease we can control ourselves. By seeking help we can prevent ourselves from being destroyed by the disease.

Their disease is not our fault but if we allow it to dictate our life and happiness, then that is our fault.

Co-dependent Personalities & Raising Co-Dependent Children

Co-dependent personalities usually refer to life as black, or white. There is no in between. It is harder for them to see others view points, and they tend to create their own reality. A co-dependent person may often value other’s opinions over their own, compromising their own values and integrity to avoid rejection. They sometimes dress sloppy, or in baggy clothes, and even in tighter skimpy clothes, displaying their issues with self-image.

The problem with co-dependent relationship within a family, is that we adapt our feelings and boundaries as theirs. We do not like to see them making bad choices, in pain etc., so we try to control it. It can become something that eventually controls where they work, live, who they marry, meaning all major decisions are dominated, by us.

People with co-dependent personalities:

•Need to be needed

• Are  people pleasers

• Are controlling

• Afraid To Be Alone

• Mistrust others

• Are Perfectionists

• Avoid their feelings

• Excessive caretakers

• Hypervigilance (a heightened awareness for potential threat or danger)

• Often they attract needy dependent people

• Downplay their own feelings, to the point that they may not even know how they feel

• Have trouble making decisions

• Do not feel they’re lovable

• Put their own interests and hobbies aside to please others

• Are excessively loyal (even staying in abusive relationships)

• Do not ask others to meet their needs

Do You Have A Co-Dependent Relationship With Your Child?

As parents, we need to say “no” to doing tasks that foster immaturity and dependence in adult children; such as, doing their laundry, cleaning up after them, helping them with their bills, providing them with shelter (as adults), etc. It is important to learn to be separate individuals and teach them to take care of their own needs.

We need to teach our children how to tackle problems in relationships or in life, not take care of the problems for them. They need to grow up and be able to have healthy, mature, adult love relationships.  If we do things for our grown children beyond what is age appropriate, we lower their self-esteem and actually stop them from growing up.

When you are co-dependent you are enmeshed with family members’ emotional boundaries and you treat them as extensions of yourself. Therefore, you do not want to see them in pain, uncomfortable, making unwise choices, or unhappy. You try to be the one in control. You aim to fix them or their situations to be what you think is right, and good for them. You fail to see the long-term damage you are causing, you think you are only helping them.

Extreme co-dependency involves subtle control over your adult children’s choices of colleges, career, place of residency, religion, and choice of marriage partners. Over all, you dominate their decision-making abilities. Secretly you feel safe, secure, and loved when others need you and depend on you. It makes you feel important and gives your life meaning because you do not have your own life fully understood and integrated.

Co-dependency use to only be talked about in families where there was alcoholism, or drug addictions. Now, they are linking it to dysfunctional families in general. And lets face it, all families are dysfunctional. Some are just better at admitting it than others.

Co-dependent Personality Disorder is a dysfunctional relationship with the self characterized by living through or for another, attempts to control others, blaming others, a sense of victimization, attempts to “fix” others, and intense anxiety around intimacy. It is very common in people raised in dysfunctional families, and in the partners and children of alcoholics and addicts.  Most chemical dependency treatment centers now also offer treatment for Co-dependency. (definition extracted from http://www.mdjunction.com)                                                                                                                                                                                  

 

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