Where there is addiction there is often someone enabling. In families with a male drinker the wife through her actions ends up enabling her husband to continue to drink. She assists him out of his pain, rather than having boundaries of her own it is easier to placate, support and complain around her husband.
With brothers one may protect the other by cheering him, deflecting criticisms, often teasing and attacking the detractors. He becomes very angry at many of the critics, as they all represent bias and trouble.
Hypothetically the learning of this enabling can come from observing the mother enable the father, or the elder brother being asked to check up on the younger siblings, particularly if the elder brother has been picked on. While there may be intense competition between the two, the elder looks after the younger and by doing this he feels important. He has a role and he gets approval, however the enabler ends up co-dependent on the other, their identity is dependent on the other.
Often when an addict sobers up the enabling wife while having complained before now finds her role has been eliminated. She ends up being depressed because she doesn’t have anything to do. Her enabling helped her avoid dealing with her own issues. In anger management we see male clients living with female alcoholics, afraid to leave they constantly fight.
Ultimately there is a price to pay. Living vicariously through another is no way to live. It reflects a self esteem issue. The roots are always complicated and the resolution is simple yet hard to do.