Partner Enabling of Alcoholism

Enabling is the ideas, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors that unintentionally continue to foster drinking, alcohol related problems or make matters worse by not allowing the alcoholic to deal with the consequences of their alcoholism.


Researchers describe that the majority of their clients and partners reported the partner took over chores or duties from the alcoholic client at some point during the relationship, drank or used other drugs with the client, and lied or made excuses to others to cover for the drinker. Moreover, particular relationship beliefs were associated with higher behavioral enabling scores.


The above and other behaviors are the outcome of the previously outlined caretaking activities and worldview of partners. See ‘A Merry-Go-Round-Named-Denial’


Enabling Behaviors are practiced in four forms;


Direct Enabling


The behavior that acts upon the alcoholic’s actual drinking behavior.


A – promotion of drinking – i.e. stating its okay to drink, attending social functions with the alcoholic where drinking will occur or offering an alcoholic a drink, buying alcohol for the alcoholic.

B – demotion of potential deterrents to drinking – i.e. cleaning up the alcoholics alcohol related messes, avoiding social contact, calling in sick for the alcoholic.


Indirect Enabling


The behavior that acts upon the alcoholic’s non-drinking behavior.


C – demotion of recovery and non-drinking behavior – i.e. spouse persuades alcoholic to go to the movie instead of an AA meeting or interferes with a hobby the drinker only does when sober.

D – promotion of potential stressors to non-drinking behavior – partner increases the level of stress, anxiety, frustration, and conflict in the alcoholics life, which may precipitate the alcoholics return to drinking.


From the BriefTSF training manual



One thought on “Partner Enabling of Alcoholism

  1. Pingback: Top Posts March ‘08 « Alcohol Self-Help News


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