How to Talk to a Loved One About Their Drinking
What to Do When a Loved One is Abusing Alcohol
Family and friends suffer along with the alcoholic they love, especially if the addict denies they have a problem. Getting them to admit their addiction and enter into alcohol rehab involves an important and complicated step.
The conversation requires an understanding of alcoholism, and it takes thoughtful planning about what to say and how to say it. To help you better manage how to talk to someone you care about regarding their alcoholism, we’ve gathered the best tips available.
Causes for Concern
The signs of alcohol abuse vary from person-to-person, but there are some common symptoms to spot. If any of the following happens when someone with alcohol use disorder drinks, it’s time to think seriously about talking to your loved one:
- They hurt or embarrass you – Maybe they’ve been rude to your friends or co-workers or acted strangely when you’re with people you care about. Perhaps they’ve started picking fights with you. If this escalates into physical violence, don’t just talk to them; call the police.
- They’re ignoring things that used to matter – Calling in sick to work a lot, skipping social events, neglecting family needs, and losing interest in favorite hobbies may be signs of alcohol abuse.
- They’re spending a lot of money on alcohol – This may be so serious that it’s causing financial problems. Have they started asking you for help paying the rent or other bills?
- You get nervous about their behavior – They’re showing poor impulse control and taking unnecessary risks to get a drink. You worry that they’ll even try to drive when drunk.
- You’re finding liquor bottles all over their home – Alcoholics often hide their liquor in strange places – in the laundry room, behind books, in garage cubbies – to cover up evidence of their problem.
- They deny their problem – If you know they’ve been drinking, but they deny it, it could be a sign of alcohol abuse.
How to Help an Alcoholic
It’s not easy to talk to a loved one about their drinking habits and the dangers involved, especially if they tend to get upset when challenged. The better prepared you are for the conversation, the more helpful it will be.
- Learn all you can – Having facts about alcohol abuse disorder will help you understand that your loved one is going through a struggle that many others face, and alcohol rehab could be the solution.
- Choose the right time and place – Confronting them when they arrive home drunk, or in the morning when they’re hungover, will only lead to a fight. Wait until they’re fully sober and you are both rested and ready to talk calmly.
- Talk about them, not you – Sharing your complaints might make you feel better but will probably make them feel guilty or attacked. Tell them you are concerned their drinking could be harming them. Assure them you love them and are only concerned for their well-being.
- Be ready to help – Have information ready on local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, counseling programs, and treatment centers like Muse, which offers various treatments based on the latest research on alcohol use disorder. Tell them you will do all you can to help them access these solutions.
- Don’t expect immediate success – They may agree they have a problem and start acting on your solutions. Or they could get defensive and deny the problem. If they do resist, it’s not because you failed them. Acceptance often takes time and a few attempts. Take a break and plan to try again when they might be more receptive.
You are an essential part of your loved one’s addiction treatment. Achieving long-lasting recovery requires a comprehensive and individualized treatment program that approaches the disease from several fronts. For help finding the right alcohol rehab program for your loved one, contact Muse at 800-426-1818.