If there is someone in your life facing problems with alcohol, you might be wondering how you can bring up the issue with them and if you should talk to them about it or not. Bringing up the subject of alcohol with someone can be awkward and hard.
You might be worried about making them upset. The person might not want to change their habits so they might even quit talking to you if they get defensive and do not want to admit they have an issue.
If there is someone you need to discuss alcoholism with, make sure you are following these do’s and don’ts. It will ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible.
Do See How They Feel About Change
If they do not know they have a problem, they might accuse you of overreacting or nagging them. However, if they have been thinking they want to change but aren’t sure how they might welcome this conversation and be ready to talk to you about it.
This is the first step in helping someone because you need to see how they feel about the situation and you need to know if they are aware of their issues or not.
- I feel like I’ve noticed you drinking a lot. Do you think you might need to cut down a bit? Is there any way I can help you cut back?
- Are you worried you might be drinking too much? If you need help stopping, let me know and we can make a plan together.
The biggest thing you can do is offer support. You want to make sure the person knows that you are on their team. You are not trying to attack them or accuse them.
Don’t Pick the Wrong Time
Make sure you also pick a good time to have this conversation. Randomly deciding to have the conversation or not preparing yourself for it can end badly. You want to make sure you have the conversation in private.
Do not involve other people as this can make the person feel like people are coming at them. Preparing yourself for the conversation can also ensure you do not get angry or say something you might regret.
This is a sensitive topic and it needs to be approached with care. You should also never talk to the person when they are drunk or when they are hungover.
Don’t Blame or Accuse
If someone is drinking regularly, they might already have things they are upset about and struggling with. Avoid blaming them as this can cause them to feel they are under attack and they will walk away from the conversation.
You don’t want to make them feel guilty about drinking as this can cause feelings of shame and might even cause them to drink more
Here are a few things you can say to make sure you are not accusing them:
- I feel worried about your drinking. Can we talk about it?
- I know you’ve been having some financial struggles lately. Do you think it might be because you’re drinking too much or is there something else that is causing these struggles?
- I feel like your drinking is causing us to have problems in our relationship. Can we talk about it?
- Do you feel like your drinking is causing problems in your life or in your work?
Do Use Examples to Explain
Using real examples of things that have happened can open up the person’s eyes to the problem. This is especially helpful if they do not know they have a drinking problem.
You can say things like:
- Josh was really upset when you were too hungover to come and watch his soccer game on Saturday.
- I was really looking forward to spending time with you over the weekend so I was disappointed when you didn’t come home from the pub until really late.
- I feel like you were aggressive with me when I told you that you were drinking too much. It made me feel scared.
This can show the person that you are concerned for them but also have real examples of how their alcohol use has affected you.
Don’t Involve the Kids
If you are talking to your spouse about their alcoholism, do not involve the children to try and place blame or make them feel bad. Your children might notice something is going on with their parents, but you do not need to tell young children about the situation.
The children should not be there when you talk to your spouse either. Consider having someone come and watch the kids so you can talk to your spouse without fearing that the children could hear you.
Do Be Prepared for Resistance
The person may feel resistance when you first bring up the issue. Be prepared for this. They could even refuse to talk and walk away. Some people might even laugh it off. Not accepting there is a problem is a common response.
When you prepare yourself for resistance, you can be emotionally better equipped for the response.
If you are met with resistance, try not to push the issue. You don’t want to start a fight. Take a step back and bring up the issue again later.
Do Suggest Professional Help When Needed
If the person is ready to accept help, you can suggest professional treatment. Places like Achieve Wellness Recovery can give the person a safe place to talk about their addiction and start to plan steps for recovery.
Many people who struggle with alcohol need to have professional help because their family and friends might be too close to the issue to offer the best advice.
A professional can offer better guidance. The family can be involved when needed. Some of the steps need to be done by the person alone to show them they are capable of recovery and they are strong.