Talking to someone you care about about their drinking problem can be one of the hardest things you'll ever do. Whether it's your best friend, sibling, parent, or significant other, it's important to approach the situation with the right mindset and your loved one's best interests in mind.
Their reaction could range from denial, anger, or even apathy at your concern. The best thing to do is be prepared for whatever happens and plan your approach carefully. The following is a guide on how to express your concern to someone you care about to hopefully get them on the path to recovery.
Choose the right moment.
It may sound odd, but choosing to confront a loved one about their drinking problem after a particularly bad episode is actually a good time to do so. Because the incident is still fresh on their mind, the message you're trying to convey to them may resonate more strongly.
A bad incident could be something like getting a DUI, behaving badly in front of family or others, losing a job, or getting severely sick from drinking. Be sure to wait until the person is no longer intoxicated to approach them. Trying to confront someone about their alcoholism while they're under the influence will only be frustrating and ineffective.
2. Be specific and include examples.
Once you begin the talk with your loved one, it's a good idea to include specific examples of how their drinking has affected their quality of life. This could include damaging relationships, career, health problems, or financial issues. This is a delicate area however, where it's especially important to be aware of the tone you use. Try your best to avoid sounding judgemental or like you're blaming the person. Express your concern for their well being and keep a compassionate tone throughout.
3. Stay calm and objective.
This is the type of situation where emotions can spiral out of control very quickly and end up doing more damage than good. Making the decision to stay calm and objective while talking to the person will help tremendously. It's very common for someone to become angry and lash out, or make personal attacks when confronted about their drinking. Try to avoid taking any angry reactions personally. See the situation from their point of view and hopefully they will calm down and understand things better over time.
4. Offer your support.
This is another very important part of the process that along with staying calm and objective, makes it clear to your loved one that you're concerned about their well being above all else. Make it clear that you're there for them to offer any kind of support they may need. This could take the form of helping them choose a treatment method, driving them to 12 step meetings, or just being there to listen. Support is such a big part of a successful recovery that simply knowing a family member, partner, or friend has their back will make a big difference to your loved one.
5. Get support from others.
You can't do this alone. Talk with other people who know and care about the individual you plan to approach and ask for their help. Perhaps they can even be there to talk with the loved one as well. Another option is to ask a professional for help. There are intervention specialists that can make the process a little easier and give you the support you need during this troubling time.