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Talking to a Friend with an Alcohol Problem: How to Approach with Kindness

Most of us have been around a friend or acquaintance who can’t drink alcohol without overdoing it. Sometimes they become belligerent, offensive, argumentative, or even violent. Of course, they never admit or recognize that they have behaved so badly and completely deny that they might have a problem. If you have a friend like this, you probably want to convince him or her to get professional help before things get worse. But, where do you begin? Below, we offer some tips on how to tell an alcoholic they have a problem.

If you are considering approaching a friend about their alcohol abuse issue, you want to think about the possible negative reaction you might face. It’s best to plan ahead and know what you want to say, where you want to say it, and what you’re going to do afterward. The most important thing to remember is that you never confront the person while they’re drinking. Also, you want to avoid being judgmental or accusatory. You want to show the person that you support them and will be there if they have a bad day. This show of kindness and respect will go a long way in helping your friend agree to seek treatment.

Tips on How to Tell an Alcoholic They Have a Problem

Many people who are in treatment for alcoholism admit that they are there because of a friend or loved one convinced them it was time to get help. What did these friends or loved ones say or do that had such a positive impact on the alcoholic? Here are some things they tried that might just work for you when talking to an alcoholic:

  • Timing: Maybe the person is drinking because of a crisis in their life such as divorce, job loss, the death of a loved one, family problems or any other sudden change that they can’t seem to deal with without liquor. Don’t focus so much on the drinking, focus on the problem that is causing the drinking.
  • Don’t lecture: Contrary to popular belief, demanding an alcoholic to seek help is not the best way to gain their cooperation. Instead, use a kind, compassionate approach and suggest they get an assessment done by a professional.
  • Focus on the consequences: Remind your friend or loved one how much the alcohol is affecting their daily life and their health. Point out the physical discomforts, emotional distress, and let him or her know that it hurts you have to watch this self-destructive behavior.
  • Rapport: You need to maintain rapport with the person because if they sense that you are placing blame or trying to shame them into getting help, the person will resist anything else you say.
  • Be prepared for the worst: The person might get angry or physically threatening. Also, he or she could simply tell you to mind your own business. However, if this intervention fails, at least you may have planted a seed that will eventually bear fruit.
  • Be helpful: Have a facility in mind and be willing to help your friend or loved one get there right away before they change their mind. Ensure him or her that you will be available anytime they need someone to listen or to offer encouragement.

If you are unsure about your ability to help someone with an alcohol problem, you should contact a professional interventionist who can help you plan and can be there to supervise or moderate the entire intervention. Some people include other family members or friends in the process which can be beneficial for everyone, as long as the other participants aren’t hostile towards the alcoholic for any reason or vice versa.

Serenity Point is Ready to Help Your Friend or Loved One

Now that the intervention is a success and your loved one or your friend is willing to enter treatment, call Serenity Point and let us take it from there.