Unless you’ve been an alcoholic who has been through rehab and recovery, you might not know precisely how to speak to a loved one regarding their alcoholism. Even if you have been there, you never know how someone with an addiction problem might react. It’s never an easy topic to broach, but there are a few specific guidelines that can help make the conversation you’re about to have go just a bit smoother. It might not be easy, but it can be effective.
Never speak to an alcoholic about their problem without a plan of action in place. This means educating yourself, knowing what to expect, how to handle the conversation, and how to broach the subject of recovery. You’re going to need to learn as much as you can, research different recovery programs, and know more than you ever thought you might about the alcohol recovery process.
If you’re going to bring up the conversation with a loved one, you must bring it up with a plan. This means providing three or four different treatment options for your loved one to consider. You’re doing the hard work for your loved one. It shows them you care, you’re worried, and you mean business when you bring up this conversation.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Try to remember your loved one is probably more uncomfortable about this conversation than you. He or she might not realize they have a problem thanks to denial. They might know they have a problem, but they might be embarrassed it’s obvious to you. They might be defensive, angry, and frustrated. Put yourself in those shoes and try to keep this in mind while you speak. Remove judgment from the conversation.
This is not about you. Get to the point of your conversation, make it short and sweet, and maintain a neutral face. You can’t judge or make anyone feel guilty. Your job is to say what needs to be said, offer solutions, and ask how you can help. It’s up to your loved ones after that.
You can’t change an alcoholic who isn’t ready to change. It’s a sad but very unfortunate truth that many addicts forced into rehab against their will relapse quickly. Your loved one might not want to change or feel they need to change, and it might take hitting rock bottom for them to make a positive change. You can’t force them, but you also aren’t required to put up with this longer than you can, which might just be the rock bottom your loved one needs to want to seek help.