Enabling, Co-dependency and Impact on Family and Social Systems
No family member has ever caused alcohol dependence in another, despite what the dependent member may claim. However, family members can, despite their best intentions, take actions that in hindsight can be seen as allowing drinking or drug use to continue. Vernon Johnson recognized this phenomenon and termed it enabling.
Since being introduced, this term has moved far beyond the substance abuse field. It is heard in general conversation, whether on the Oprah Winfrey Show or in the cell phone conversation of a person next to you on the bus. Rather than being a simple descriptor, the term has taken on a negative connotation. Enabling has become an accusation. As frequently used, enabling suggests that the family member is incredibly stupid or is acting without the troubled person’s best interests at heart. Along with enabling, the term co-dependency was introduced in the same era. To draw upon a metaphor from a family systems approach commonly used in psychotherapy, the family member and alcohol-troubled person are in an “escalating equilibrium.”
Children’s learned response/survival roles and Adult Children of Alcoholics
One of the major developments in the alcohol field during the 1980s was the vastly increased attention to the plight of the family. For the first time, engaging families in treatment became the norm. In addition, there were efforts to reach out to family members, even if the alcohol-dependent person was not in treatment. As part of the attention to the family, alcohol dependence began to be described as a family illness.
In 2012, an estimated 7.5 million children under age 18 were living with a parent with a serious alcohol problem. Nationwide that’s 10.5% of all children under age 18. Picture kids on the playground. One of every 10 will be returning home to a parent with a significant alcohol problem. “Significant” means meeting the formal criteria for a diagnosis of substance abuse or dependence. The majority (80%) live in two-parent families. Almost all the rest live with a single mom (15%).
- If alcohol dependence is defined as an illness, how does one define drinking problems in the absence of dependence? Where is the line drawn? Are there other health conditions that appear to be analogous?
- Explain the term “enabling behavior” with the help of some examples.
- If alcoholism (then the commonly used term) was a family illness, was not the next logical step to provide a name for the “disease” experienced by family members? Discuss support systems for the family. How are they helpful?
- Assess if it is more likely that such children will have a harder time than will their peers as they enter into relationships outside the home, at school, or with playmates.
- Examine is a troubled child the signal of an alcohol problem in a family. What factors influence how a parent’s drinking affects the child.
Discussion Participation (30%)
Grading Rubric and Participation Requirements
- One primary post (New Topic) as your initial discussion post thread – min. 200 words/post
- One secondary response (Respond) to classmates – min. 100 words/post
- All posts are to be substantive responses reflective of the reading content.
- Each post will be graded per the overall grading rubric for content and adherence to the performance guidelines
- Primary post earns up to 20 points
- Response to peers earns up to 17.5 points
Posting is not just posting what every other student posts, but about bringing out original and insightful ideas on, in this case, the discussion board. Therefore, you should strive each week to improve your posting skills by offering thorough and clear writings by bringing up fresh perspectives on the given topic.
- Discussion questions must meet the APA formatting meaning you cannot just copy information from a website.
- Use scholarly peer-reviewed resources to support your viewpoints.
- Use a minimum of one resource to support your position.
- Do not write the website address as your reference (www.abc.com), but write the resource meeting the APA formatting. (Examples were provided under the announcements).
- DO NOT use resources such as Wikipedia, eHow, WiseGEEK, Wikihow, About… If in doubt please ask.