In addiction, there is often a second person who permits or even encourages the alcoholic to continue drinking because he or she is co-dependent on him. Whether we’re talking about a spouse, a parent or a friend, the co-dependent person relies on the alcoholic and simply cannot imagine life without him. The fear of loss and the desire to be needed both represent the most important things in a co-dependent person’s life, as the change is perceived as a negative, undesirable effect. For me, the enablers were first my parents and later on, my wife.
I’m Currently Not Blaming Any of Them for My Addiction
I have to go right out and say it: I came to realize that I’m the only person in charge of my decisions – however irresponsible and misguided they were – and taking up drinking was the one that I regret the most. But I didn’t always think this way and my current attitude is the result of years of therapy and rehab as well as careful and thorough re-examinations of my behavior.
My Early Drinking Years
I started drinking – I can say in moderation – after college when the stress of the job was getting the best of me. I wasn’t married and still living in my parents’ home. There was, in my view, nothing wrong with indulging in “happy hour” with my friends and, although I knew my dad who had at one point struggled with alcoholism and managed to beat it, knew about it, he said nothing. Both my parents were more concerned with my work related stress and silently agreed that, if a few drinks after hours help me unwind, there’s nothing wrong with the habit.
After I got married and moved out, my wife inherited the role of the enabler, in the same basic sense. She realized that those couple of drinks turned into 4, then 5 beers a night, then the beer turned to screwdrivers, then the screwdrivers turned to Jacks, etc. But, since I wasn’t harming anyone and actually seemed more relaxed at first, she never objected to my drinking. She later told me that she was afraid I would do something brash if she nagged me about what appeared to be my only way to blow off steam.
When my alcoholism got out of hand – in the sense that I started getting wasted during the working hours of the day and I got fired – my wife decided to break the silence. She called in my parents and I got sat down like I used to when I got in trouble back in elementary school. I was taken by surprise, considering that neither of them even mentioned the subject until then, but I stubbornly defended my actions with every breath, trying to justify my drinking and refusing to admit I have a problem quitting it. In the fervor of my speech, however, I abruptly realized just how strong a bond I have with this vice and burst into tears. I had begun to accept that I was an alcoholic and I needed help.
From the point of view of the former alcoholic who was surrounded by enablers all his life, I urge you to take action when you see that a person you care about is heading down the slippery slope. They might resent you for the moment, but it sure beats having to recover from years and years of alcoholism or, the worse alternative, losing everything you love to alcohol.