How to Talk to an Alcoholic About Their Drinking

Updated on August 28, 2020

Are you concerned that a loved one may have a drinking problem? Talking with someone about their drinking can be a sensitive situation, so it’s important to enter the conversation prepared. You might just be able to guide a person you care about toward the help they need.

Keep reading to learn how to talk to an alcoholic about their drinking.

Knowing How to Talk to an Alcoholic Starts with Honesty

When it comes to conversations about alcohol, you need to be clear — but not pushy. If your tone is aggressive or demeaning, you may just end up pushing someone away. Plan ahead and practice what you’re going to say so you choose the right words.

Don’t fall into the trap of blaming your loved one for their behavior. Instead, show how their actions have hurt you. If they’re spending every minute of the day out drinking, you’re missing their presence in your life.

Plan For the Right Time to Talk

Alcohol abuse can make a person’s behavior erratic, so it’s important to stage your conversation at a time when your loved one is clearheaded. You don’t want to initiate a conversation of this magnitude when someone is intoxicated or violent.

Make sure that you’re in a private setting, and keep your emotions in check. It might be easy to become angry if this person has hurt you, but try to strike a more neutral and compassionate tone.

And if you’re staging an intervention with a group of friends and family, make sure that you’ve discussed your intentions and format before sitting and having the conversation with your loved one.

Be Clear and Prepared

When talking with your loved one, be as clear as possible. The last thing you want is to confuse your tone or message or encourage more bad behavior.

Going into a conversation, be prepared with a suggested course of action. Start looking for the best drug or alcohol rehab programs before you initiate the talk. Your loved one will have a better chance of taking action if the resources are right in front of them.

Know That You May Face Pushback

It’s also important that you know that the conversation may not go well. Your loved one may feel defensive or irritated, and you may be on the receiving end of some harsh words.

If this happens, it’s best not to push your agenda. Pull back and communicate that you’re concerned about their wellness. You may not get an immediate response, but you will have planted a seed of concern that could prompt action down the road.

Start the Conversation Now

It’s always better to start the conversation than it is to let a problem fester — and a person you care about jeopardize their life. Summon the courage and follow a few simple steps so you know how to talk to an alcoholic in a way that shows support and suggests action.

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