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Alcoholism and substance abuse are difficult problems to face. Dealing with an alcoholic loved one can be a life wrenching experience. In almost every situation, the alcoholic individual is in denial and will not acknowledge that they have a problem. Loved ones might initially try to confront the abuser about his alcohol use, but he either avoids the conversation or brushes them off stating there’s nothing to worry about. In the meantime, friends and family around him are greatly affected by the unpredictable, unstable behavior. As the behavior progresses and the alcoholic continues to deny the problem, those around him sometimes begin covering up for his behavior. This is where the terms “enabler” and “co-dependent” come into play.

Co-dependency exists when the alcoholic's partner, friends or family members allow the alcoholic's abusive behavior to take control. They begin to put the alcoholic’s needs before their own in order to try and create more balance in their lives and to cover up his erratic behavior. The family member or the spouse of the alcoholic may think that he or she is doing the right thing when in reality he or she is not helping at all. This only fosters dependency on the part of the alcoholic, but does not get them to face the reality of the situation.

Another term that is often used to describe families of alcoholics is enabling. This is when a co-dependent acts in a way that enables the alcoholic to continue his addiction. In this situation, you will see examples like a husband covering up his wife’s addiction by leaving work to pick their kids up from after school activities, or a wife calling in sick for her husband when he’s actually passed-out or hung-over. Another example is when friends step in with cash for an alcoholic to pay his bills because he can’t keep a job. This enabling behavior is a short-term band-aid and only serves to continue encouraging the alcoholism.

There's a thin line that separates helping from enabling. You are helping if you are doing something for someone who is not able to do it. You are enabling if you do something for someone who is actually able to do it. As long as the alcohol abuser is surrounded by enablers, his problems continue to get solved and he can continue to deny any problem. It is only when those around him finally stop this behavior and he is forced to face the repercussions of his behavior, that he will be faced with how serious his problem has become.

It is at this point that taking an alcohol and drug awareness class online can prove beneficial. It might be hard to initially get the individual to go to a meeting where others might see him, or take the time to get one-on-one therapy. Online alcohol awareness classes are available from any Internet based computer, in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Family members can sit together as they go through the course and discuss personal issues that arise with each topic. Classes teach the health risks to excessive drinking as well as skills to help overcome abuse and maintain sobriety.