How to Talk to an Alcoholic: Starting the Conversation About Getting Help

Talking to Someone About Alcoholism

When a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, it can be challenging to have a productive conversation about getting them help. Educating yourself on alcoholism, learning about proven alcohol counselling techniques and planning the conversation will prevent it from turning into a volatile confrontation.

Understanding Alcoholism

It can be difficult to talk about substance abuse when the person is in denial that their drinking has become problematic. Since alcohol is a regular part of adult life, the lines between normal use and overuse can be blurry.

Alcohol use disorder is characterised by chronic drinking and the inability to stop. When someone develops alcohol use disorder, it coincides with psychological changes that create an alcohol dependency. Symptoms include:

  • Drinking more than intended
  • Expressing a desire to stop drinking but being unable to do so
  • Experiencing intense cravings for alcohol
  • Being unable to fulfil personal and professional duties due to drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite conflicts with friends and family members
  • Becoming isolated or stopping activities they once enjoyed
  • Putting themselves in dangerous situations while intoxicated or to get alcohol
  • Developing a higher tolerance for alcohol

Creating a Plan for the Conversation

If your loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder, you cannot approach the conversation by telling them to stop and hoping that it sticks this time. There are more productive ways to raise your concerns and suggest solutions.

When creating a plan for your conversation, it is helpful to write down talking points to prevent emotions from derailing the goal. These include:

  • State your concerns about your loved one’s drinking. Use “I” statements that focus on your feelings and refrain from blaming them.
  • Explain your concerns about their health and wellbeing.
  • Do not diagnose them. Avoid using labels like “alcoholic.”
  • Be understanding about their situation.
  • Provide options, not demands. Instead of saying, “You need to go to rehab,” ask, “Would you consider talking to someone about your alcohol use?”

Find a Facility that Specialises in Alcohol Counselling

Another way to prepare for the conversation with your loved one is to prepare a list of facilities that specialise in alcohol counselling, like Hills & Ranges, a detox centre in Melbourne. This way, if your loved one does agree to speak to someone about their alcohol use, you already have a professional lined up.

Supportive Recovery Coaching

Alcoholism is chronic for the alcoholic and devastating for you to watch. However, no matter how frustrated you become, you must understand your loved one’s position and approach the conversation without letting your anger and frustration get in the way.

Alcoholism is treatable with professional help and ongoing recovery coaching. You will play a pivotal role in your loved one’s successful recovery from the moment you initiate the conversation about getting help and for the rest of their life. You don’t have to wait for rehab; you can fill the role of that support system now.

For more information about the Hills & Ranges detox centre in Melbourne and getting your loved one help, call us on 1800 954 749.

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