Anytime a loved one is struggling, we often ask them if they need help in some way, and are more than willing to sacrifice time and energy to offer them the help they need.
Except when it comes to drinking habits.
It’s incredibly difficult to ask a loved one if they are okay when the problem seems to be alcohol. Even though we may recognize there’s an issue there, it can feel taboo to talk about, or judgmental to bring up in conversation.
So how do you do it? How do you approach the topic of alcohol addiction with tact and gentleness?
How to speak with someone about an alcohol addiction
When you see the signs of addiction in someone’s life, it can be difficult to bring up the topic with them if they don’t initiate it with you first. But, broaching the topic could mean the difference between recovery and lifelong addiction in their life. There’s no need to be afraid of talking to your loved one so long as you do it at the right time with the right intentions.
Choose the right time
The right setting makes a big difference in how well this conversation goes. Take into consideration the possible headspace of your loved one — are they relaxed, not in the middle of anything and seemingly open to a chat? Are you both in a quiet location that is conducive to a more serious conversation? Making sure it’s the right time and place is important to ensure success and receptivity.
Consider beginning the conversation with simple, empathetic questions or statements such as “Do you ever think you drink more than you plan to?” or “I’m starting to worry about your drinking.” And then give them the space to talk without interruption or judgment.
While it can be difficult, especially if you have been negatively impacted by their drinking, do your best to avoid blaming your loved one for their addiction and its consequences. Becoming angry or accusative can cause them to become defensive or try to leave the conversation. Keep the focus on your concern for their health and well-being. After all, while they might’ve initially chosen to drink more than is healthy, they did not choose for it to turn into such problematic behavior.
When you’re concerned about someone’s drinking, it’s best to go into the conversation with solutions to help them. Offer to assist them in finding treatment programs and AA meetings in your area, or volunteering to be their wingman should they choose to attend meetings. This shows them you’re not just voicing your opinion on their choices, but are there to help them make better ones. It shows your support of the choices necessary to get their life back on track.
Be ready for pushback
No one likes hearing that the choices they have been making and the way they have been behaving are negatively impacting the people around them. Prepare yourself for your loved one to be defensive, deny they have a problem or refuse to listen. If this happens, reassure them you’re only speaking out because you care.
And don’t take it personally. Addiction is a mentally lonely, challenging place to be; if your friend or family member responds poorly initially, it most likely has little to do with you. They probably are feeling confusing emotions of guilt and shame, especially when they learn their actions are affecting the people in their life. Try not to internalize any behaviors that stem from this place.
Be committed to caring
Especially after you have spoken to them, make choices that show you’re committed to their sobriety. Don’t drink with them or enable their addiction, in the hope that these actions will make them feel more comfortable with you. Hold yourself accountable just as you expect them to hold themselves accountable. This will prevent any mixed signals and show your support in an important way.
Alcohol addiction treatment centers
Sometimes alcohol use turns into more than just one too many drinks — when addiction occurs, it’s important to seek the right help to prevent it from becoming a sincerely life-altering problem.
If you are looking into addiction treatment facilities for yourself or your loved one, contact Silvermist Recovery to learn more about our programs.