How to Talk to a Loved One about Their Drinking

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Do you want to talk to someone about their drinking? This is one of the most difficult conversations to have because many people don’t see a problem with their drinking. Therefore, they might accuse you of overreacting or nagging. If this happens, you might feel like you’ve lost your opportunity to get the person help and perhaps even strained your relationship.

The best way to have these difficult conversations is by planning for them. It can also be helpful to talk about your concerns with a counselor or family therapist, as well as attend an Al-Anon meeting. A well-planned discussion is more likely to be successful, even if the person isn’t ready to admit their problem.

Below we provide some simple steps on how to talk to a loved one about drinking habits that have gone too far.

Feel out the person’s desire to change

You really won’t know how the person feels about their drinking unless you ask them. In some instances, a person wants to change and is relieved that someone reached out to them. This will obviously set the tone for a much different conversation than one where the person denies everything. You can start by saying, “Are you worried about your drinking?” Or, “You seem to be drinking a lot. Is everything okay?”

Plan what you are going to say

If the person says they want to change, you can move forward with helping them find an outpatient drug rehab in Agoura. But, if the person says they don’t have a problem, what will you say next?

It helps to write notes of the things you want to discuss. If you are concerned about your loved one’s drinking, explain why. Be direct, give specific examples and share how the drinking is affecting you. For example, you could say, “I was disappointed when you were hungover and unable to make it to Lily’s dance recital.”

Avoid placing blame

When a person is confronted about their drinking, they often feel under attack. This makes them defensive and can send the conversation into a negative direction. Avoid placing blame on the person or making them feel guilty. Addiction is not a choice and is not anyone’s fault. Use “I” statements, such as “I feel…” instead of saying, “You did this.”

Don’t give mixed messages

Drinking can be an especially difficult topic to discuss because alcohol is legal and socially acceptable. Many people have a glass of wine at dinner or go out for beers after work and are fine, so what makes this situation with your loved one different?

To show that you are concerned about your loved one’s well-being, avoid sending mixed messages. Don’t have this conversation and then split a bottle of wine with the person. Show that you are taking this matter seriously by not encouraging or engaging in alcohol use.

Be prepared for resistance, but don’t give up

It’s common for people not to accept that they have a drinking problem, so don’t be surprised if you are met with resistance. Continue educating yourself on alcoholism, attending Al-Anon meetings and letting your loved one know that you are there for them. If you are concerned that your loved one’s actions are spiraling out of control, talk to a counselor about staging an intervention.

If your loved one is ready to commit to a life of sobriety, Awakenings Treatment Center is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our alcohol treatment center in Agoura Hills.