If your loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, it can be difficult to confront them about their problem. Before confronting an alcoholic partner, family member, or friend, it’s important to take certain preventative measures. By educating yourself on alcoholism and alcohol use disorders, you can be better prepared to confront someone about their drinking problem. As a drug rehab in Massachusetts that understands the toll that alcoholism can take on a person’s life, Clearbrook Massachusetts shares some tips on how to confront an alcoholic in denial that may help you get your loved one the treatment they need.
How to Talk to an Alcoholic in Denial
Drinking becomes problematic when a person can no longer control their use of alcohol. They may continue to drink despite the negative effects it has on their life, including mood swings, damaged relationships, reduced performance at work or school, and health problems. When someone’s drinking reaches this point, then they may have alcoholism or alcohol use disorder.
Although alcoholism is not curable, it is treatable. However, because alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to quit and recover from, professional treatment is advised. But it’s not always as simple as getting the person to agree to medical detox or addiction treatment. Sometimes, it takes several conversations with an addict for them to realize the extent of their problem and why they need help. If you’re looking to help a loved one with a drinking problem get help, below are some tips on how to confront an alcoholic that can guide you.
Talk to an interventionist first.
Understanding alcoholism and confronting an alcoholic in denial can be difficult tasks that an intervention specialist can help you with. If Alcoholics Anonymous is unavailable in your area, make an appointment with a licensed therapist or psychologist to discuss the nature of the person’s problem and how you can best speak to them about it. These are professionals who have experience treating individuals with substance use disorders to offer some simple advice that can make a world of difference.
Do not talk to the person when they’re drinking or drunk.
When your loved one comes home drunk or begins drinking at a get-together, it can be tempting to let out what you’re feeling and criticize them for their behavior. But this won’t help. Instead, the person may either tune you out or become angry enough to start an argument. As a result, they may become more defensive the next time their drinking habits are mentioned and may be less likely to discuss them, which is why it’s important to confront an alcoholic when they’re sober. When sober, they’ll be able to focus on the conversation and understand where you’re coming from.
Speak clearly and firmly about how you feel.
When confronting an alcoholic, you can’t afford to be indirect or unclear about how you feel. Use a calm but firm tone of voice to describe the person’s behavior and how it’s impacted yourself and others. Share details like how many times they’ve come home intoxicated and how much money or time they’ve spent drinking. Do so in a way that will show them the extent of their drinking. It takes courage to confront an alcoholic about their problem, but don’t back down. If they begin to argue with you, stay calm or stop the conversation and continue it some other time.
Unfortunately, many alcoholics and people with addictions manipulate their loved ones. They don’t mean to do this maliciously, but they are so caught up in their problem that they can’t help it. Enabling and codependency are also common traits of relationships with addicts. Your desire to help them might be so great that you do everything for them, allowing them to do whatever they want, just to keep them happy (enabling). Or, you may become so attached to the role of caretaker that you do whatever they want to keep them happy and under your care (codependency). Regardless, enabling and codependency are both unhealthy and dangerous traits that can be avoided by setting strong boundaries.
Some examples of boundaries include not driving them to places where you know they’ll drink, not letting them crash at your house after a night of drinking, not giving them money to buy alcohol, etc. Although this may require a level of tough love, many addicts need this wake-up call to realize they need to change.
Set up an intervention.
Many facilities offer intervention services that certified specialists lead. Interventions are meant to bring the loved ones of addicts together to speak to the individual (when they’re sober) about the impact of their behavior. Those present usually write letters to the person, which they read aloud. The specialists ensure that the conversation remains calm and prevents family drama or emotional outbursts. An intervention is a great way to confront your loved one with the support of others in a safe environment.
Extend your active support.
If you want to talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk. The number one thing to remember when helping alcoholics in denial is to support them. It’s easy to point out another person’s issues, but it’s much harder to be there for them whenever they need help. Your loved one is more likely to get alcohol treatment and stay sober when they have the support of others. If they see that you’re committed to helping them and that you’re relying on their sobriety, they may be more motivated to stay sober.
Be patient and remind them you love them.
It’s easy to become discouraged and feel attacked when people are pointing out your problems. Your loved one may feel ashamed, guilty, and unloved as a result of their drinking and the issues it’s caused. Amid all of the truth, grace must also be applied. Don’t forget to be patient with the person, as addiction is a disease, and remember to tell them you love them.
Additionally, it’s also important to back your words up with actions. If you know someone has a drinking problem, don’t drink around them. If you’re having a party at your house and they’re invited, don’t serve any alcohol. It’s cruel and unfair to drink in front of this person or tempt them to drink, especially while you’re trying to get them to stop.
All in all, remember that addiction is tough, and that the person won’t change in one day. They will always struggle with drinking, so your support has to be consistent. If you know someone in need of addiction treatment, call us now at 570-536-9621 to learn how our inpatient drug rehab in Massachusetts can help.