How to Talk to a Loved One About Alcohol Recovery
If you love someone who has a problem with alcohol, you may feel frustrated or helpless. You want them to break out of what seems like a cycle of addiction, but you don’t know how to approach this very difficult topic.
Talking to someone about their need for alcohol recovery can be awkward and stressful. Finding a way to show your concern and love while being honest and transparent requires walking a tightrope. At Topsail Addiction Treatment, we’re here to help in every way — including helping you find the right way to approach this tricky subject.
Take a look at some key guidelines for telling a loved one that you’re concerned about their relationship with alcohol.
Get Educated About Addiction and Alcohol Recovery
It’s tempting to lay in to a loved one who has been frustrating you with anger and irritation — but that kind of conversation can be counterproductive. Take some time before your talk to learn a little about addiction. Your loved one is dealing with a complex disease that affects their brain and all parts of their body, not with a moral failing or a lack of willpower. Understanding just a little about what your loved one is facing can help you create the empathy bond needed for this important conversation to be successful.
Offer Love and Support
Your loved one may expect any discussion of their alcohol problems to be argumentative and aggressive. Instead, approach them with confirmations of your long-standing love for them and concern for their health and well-being. Make sure to talk to them when they’re most likely to be sober, perhaps during midday. To avoid any sense of embarrassment, raise the topic in private and in a location where they feel comfortable. Start your conversation with expressions of love and support.
Listen to Your Loved One
Your loved one wants to know that you see them for who they truly are and that you care about them. You can show this by listening to them. Start your conversation by asking about their life and about the things that are posing stress. Avoid criticizing them once they start talking about what’s going on, and just listen instead. They already know (or assume) you disapprove of their behavior, so you don’t have to make a point of it. Listening helps you start to understand the reason for the addictive behavior your loved one is showing, and it lets them know that they can trust you.
Choose Your Phrasing Carefully
If you come across as accusing, your conversation with your loved one is likely to go poorly. Instead, try to start your sentences with “I” rather than “you” as much as possible. Saying, “You make me angry when you come home late at night drunk,” is an accusing statement (even if it’s true). Don’t be surprised if your loved one reacts defensively to that kind of statement. By rephrasing it as, “I get concerned when you come home late at night, and I worry that you’re not sober,” you may be able to have a conversation that feels supportive rather than hostile.
Be Transparent About Your Concerns
It’s easy for this type of conversation to veer off into vague statements that ultimately go nowhere. Plan what you’re going to say, and be transparent about the depth of your concern. You might want to highlight a particular incident that caused concern — perhaps your loved one has been dropping the ball and getting in trouble at work, or maybe they aren’t coming home at a reasonable hour.
Tie your concerns about your loved one’s safety and well-being to their misuse of alcohol. Help them see that their actions aren’t just affecting themselves — they’re also having a profoundly negative effect on the people who love them.
Establish Boundaries Where Needed
Sometimes people with addictions try to push their loved ones’ boundaries, seeking to have others enable their negative behaviors. Think ahead to determine what your boundaries are before you have a difficult conversation, and stick to them. It’s okay for you to say you won’t provide any more financial support to someone with an alcohol problem. Maybe you need to ask your loved one to leave your home if they won’t go into rehab. Whatever your boundaries are, make them clear without any hostility, and state them without begging for the change of behavior.
Be Prepared to Offer Options for Recovery Treatment
In the best-case scenario, your conversation with your loved one about alcohol recovery will end with them agreeing that they need to seek treatment. You can continue to help and support them by offering options for professional treatment. Be ready to help them make the difficult call to a detox program, if necessary, and encourage them about how seeking treatment could make all the difference in their life going forward.
At Topsail Addiction Treatment, we’re ready to help your loved one with alcohol recovery. We offer a wide range of treatment options, all delivered with empathy and understanding. Contact us today to learn how we can help.
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