is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We strive to provide evidenced-based material for those seeking information on Alcohol Dependence (Alcoholism) and a sense of community through our Discussion Forums.
Friends & Families This disease can take a toll on the alcohol-dependent person's loved ones as well.
Wanting to help but not knowing what to do can be a helpless feeling.

Font Size: Smaller Font Larger Font | Printer Icon Print


By: Roger J. Gregoire, CAC

As the family begins to take steps to address the problem by removing the alcohol abuser/dependent from the drink and away from the family environment, it becomes time to actively seek qualified treatment, and evaluate the condition of the family. With the removal of the alcoholic behavior, the family is able to start to feel some stability and security around the home. This stage represents the start of a healing process. Family members will need an opportunity to reevaluate, process and resolve feelings and issues.

Codependent patterns must be identified1 and replaced with more effective and natural ways to cope. Much of this stage of recovery revolves around feelings. Suppressed and unresolved feelings of anger, and sadness can be expressed as rage, shame, self loathing and confusion. To undo the deep-rooted negative and bitter perceptions, many family members need a way to express these powerful feelings.

It is time to consider therapy2
A family existing in a codependent condition becomes addicted to their roles. No matter how undesirable or painful. The "abnormal" began to appear to be the "normal" , what was "unnatural" had become "natural" in the general family view. To the family under the influence of a codependent alcohol-dependent relationship, this upside-down reality is a painful revelation. Reinforced as a response the alcoholic presence over time means it may take time to undo its affects. There are many different types of therapies, what is the "right" method? That depends on the assessed needs of the family members.3

Talk therapy in either a one-to-one setting or in a group is a common method used to work out and resolve individual issues. By forming a relationship with a concerned, trained, ethical, and focused professional a person can begin to develop an improved sense of self, and allow anger to be transformed into meaningful change via the "grieving process".4

Regardless of the form of therapy chosen, its effectiveness hinges on the individual having a sense of safety and building trust. This building of trust allows him/her to risk feeling vulnerable in expressing long-protected painful feelings. In this environment of primary concern, with balanced and reasonable boundaries, the client can view the the effect of the chaos brought on by drinking family member in safety. To begin to see conditions as they are with a clear eye, to "right" the sense of reality. Becoming less dependant on the defensive response, keeping secrets, and to learning to identify past codependent behaviors, so as not to project them unknowingly onto future relationships.


  1. Buddy T. Sometimes 'Helping' Doesn't Help at All. Enabling. Alcoholism & Substance Abuse.
  2. Glenn collins. Alcoholism: Treating the Family as a Whole. The New York Times. December 8, 1982.
  3. summary of Therapy Types. Psychotherapy. PsychicNet-Uk.
  4. Grief Process – Understanding Grief. All About Life Challenges.

This page was last modified on : 10/28/2013

To add a locator tool
to your site click here.
New Brochure - Treatment Options for Alcohol Dependence - Click for more information
In case of Alcohol Withdrawals or Alcohol Poisoning call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.
Home | About Us | Terms | Privacy Policy | Education | Recognizing The Problem | Health Issues | Treatment Options | Alcohol Withdrawal
What can I do to help | Women's Issues | Peer Support | Psychosocial Therapy | Brief Interventions
How to Dispose of Unused Medicines | FAQ | Resources | Links | Downloads | Glossary | Enabling |Site Map | Donate
PO Box 333
Farmington, CT 06034