Although substance abuse often has substantial physical, social, and psychological effects on individuals who engage in this behavior, alcoholism and drug addiction also have significant effects on the families of those individuals. Family members of substance abusers frequently experience emotional distress, financial strain, and relationship problems as the result of their association with an alcohol or drug abuser.

A focus of research in this area has been the extent to which family members engage in enabling behavior. Enabling behaviors have been defined as learned behaviors that positively and negatively reinforce a loved one's drinking or substance use behavior. Enabling has also been described as naturally occurring attempts to cope with the stress of a loved one's addiction. Regardless of why these behaviors occur, enabling behaviors are ...

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