When someone close to you is suffering from an addiction, it is never easy to confront them about their behavior and ask them to seek help. For family members and close friends, seeing someone in their life struggle with alcoholism is painful but they may not know what to do to stop it.
Approaching an alcoholic about their problem can require some careful strategies because an addict can quickly become defensive and begin to withdraw even more from the people around them when they are asked to get help. Confronting an alcoholic becomes a fine line between saving their life and pushing them further away from reality.
It is important to take action and help someone with an alcohol problem in a way that is carefully planned and skillful so that they will listen and understand what you are saying. An intervention is sometimes the best option for approaching an addict but one-on-one conversations can also be helpful given the right approach.
The Right Timing for Talking to a Loved One
Not many people feel confident and comfortable enough to bring up the issue of a person's alcoholism even though they might believe it is their responsibility to do so. A good way to start planning this type of conversation is to find the best time to talk to them.
It is never beneficial to confront them while they are intoxicated and in an irrational state of mind. An alcoholic should be approached when they are sober and if possible, confront them shortly after they've experienced some type of consequence for their drinking.
If they have lost a relationship or a job because of their behavior then they will be more likely to listen because they are beginning to understand how much drinking is negatively affecting their life. When you speak to them about their alcoholism you can focus on the consequences that they have recently experienced as a clear example of how their drinking has become problematic.
Compassion and Understanding for a Better Outcome
As you speak to the alcoholic about their drinking, you can also discuss the negative impact it has on them emotionally. You can talk about how much their drinking is actually hurting them and becomes self-defeating. Focus on the psychological pain and emotional distress it has caused the alcoholic and how everyone around them does not want to see them suffer anymore.
An addict may believe that they can handle their drinking but inside they are going through emotional turmoil with the ups and downs of their addiction. While confronting an alcoholic you will want to avoid lecturing them or taking a harsh approach that becomes too direct and accusatory. This strategy can often backfire and even push them further into their addiction.
Scolding an alcoholic about their behavior will only invite more resistance and denial rather than accepting they have a problem. The best approach is to be compassionate and understanding without any judgmental language or criticizing. You should only state your concerns respectfully and encourage rather than demand that they seek professional help.
When the alcoholic you are approaching is someone very close to you it is important that you maintain your usual rapport instead of distancing yourself from them. Being too critical can weaken your rapport and cause the alcoholic to withdraw from your friendship.
Even with careful strategies in place, however, there is always the possibility that an alcoholic will become angry and defensive, denying that they have a problem. If this happens, don't take it personally but hope that eventually the things you have told them will sink in and they will realize on their own that they need to recover from their addiction.