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Individual Counselling1

How to Talk to an Alcoholic

Whether it is a close friend, a family member, or even a significant other – talking to someone about their obvious struggle with alcohol is difficult. You might not know how to approach it, what to say, or how to respond based on their reaction. But if you are suspicious that someone you know and love is struggling with alcoholism, there is a desire there to approach that individual and encourage their entry into rehab. But with this desire to approach them also comes the fear of making them angry, their rejection and even damaging or severing the relationship the two of you have.

However, at the end of the day, it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. While they might refuse to go get help, you did your part and they denied to do theirs.

If you know someone who is struggling with an alcohol addiction, here are some tips to help you get started with talking to them:

How to Recognize Alcoholism

Before you approach someone about their alcoholism, you need to first identify if they might actually be suffering from alcoholism. The symptoms of alcoholism go far beyond seeing them drink excessively on a few occasions. Alcoholism also causes physical and mental symptoms, including but not limited to the following:

  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Reddening of the face or nose
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Decreased inhibition
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

Talking to Your Loved One

The first step to approaching someone about alcoholism should be devising a plan. Of course, the interaction might not go exactly as you planned, but approaching it without a plan can lead to disarray.

The intervention process involves multiple elements:

  • Getting support – educate yourself, find resources, ask a professional for guidance
  • Engaging in self-care – mentally prepare everyone involved, including yourself, for every possible outcome
  • Having the treatment option ready – comprise a list of viable treatment locations
  • Staging the intervention – choose a location and assemble a team
  • Participating in treatment

In order to successfully gain their trust and attention, you need to have cold, hard facts in mind. You also need to consider their personality to understand what methods, settings, etc. might be more destructive rather than productive. Next, you also need to have treatment options ready so that when/if they decide they are ready to go, there is no lag time between their decision and finding the place to go.

 

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