How to Confront (and Help) an Alcoholic

How to Confront (and Help) an Alcoholic

Watching someone you love damage their physical and emotional health is a tough pill to swallow. Even though you can’t control what someone else does, it wouldn’t feel right to sit back and do nothing. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to have a rational conversation with an alcoholic. Alcohol changes the brain and turns them into a different person. 

Rarely do conversations go smoothly when talking to an addict. They tend to become defensive and downplay their habit. So how can you confront an alcoholic, help them see their problem and suggest outpatient alcohol rehab in Denver? While there are no guarantees, we’ve put together some tips to help you navigate this difficult conversation with your loved one. 

Tips for Approaching Someone About Their Alcohol Use 

One word of advice before we get started is this: plan ahead. Talk to a counselor or addiction specialist, educate yourself on the nature of addiction and start researching your options for treatment. The more you know, the more you can approach the conversation with confidence and ease. This can lead to a better response from the addict.

Below are some of the best ways to confront your loved one about their drinking. 

Start with an Al-Anon group (or another support group). 

Start by attending an Al-anon meeting in your area. These meetings are designed for the family and friends of alcoholics. Family members have the opportunity to learn from others who have faced similar problems. Everyone is welcome to attend these meetings whether their loved one is still drinking or not. 

Don’t worry about becoming a member. Visit a variety of meetings and see which ones you like best. You can meet people, gather information and hear how others have handled sensitive conversations. And if you do choose to become a member, you’ll have a supportive team to help you through. 

Plan what you’re going to say. 

Approaching someone about their drinking is a sensitive conversation. It’s best to plan ahead so that you know what you’re going to say and how you will respond to denial. It might even be helpful to write down notes, just as you would for an intervention. This will help you get your thoughts out and stay focused. Provide specific examples if you can. 

Wait for the right time. 

If your loved one comes home drunk, it can be tempting to unload all of your frustrations out on them. But this won’t get you very far. In fact, it can set back your relationship and cause the next discussion to be even worse. Wait for the right time to talk to your loved one about their alcohol use. 

When is this “right” time? It’s different for everyone. We recommend choosing a time when the person is sober. You should both be well-rested and clear-headed, so for many people, this time is in the morning when they first wake up. You can even have a cup of coffee and light breakfast waiting for the person. 

two people talking about addiction

Be firm and clear in your delivery. 

Practice this tone so that it will come more naturally to you. Firm and clear is the only way to speak to an alcoholic. You can be compassionate and understanding, but you must be direct about your concerns and what you expect the person to do next. Otherwise, you will have wasted an opportunity to get your loved one outpatient treatment in Denver

It helps to write down a list of specific dates and events that have happened to support your claims. This way, the person can’t argue with you or make excuses. If they try, and they very well might, stay calm and keep focused on the main goal – helping your loved one to see their problem and accept help. 

Prepare a plan of action. 

It’s important to have a plan of action in place. What do you hope to get out of this conversation? Even if your loved one is accepting of what you say and agrees they have a problem, what will happen next? Without a plan, they will go right back to abusing alcohol.

Treatment depends on how bad the addiction is, but it’s important to know that alcohol is a dangerous drug to detox from. It can cause potentially fatal seizures and delirium tremens (DTs). Any type of detox should start with a medically supervised detox program. Do not let your loved one withdraw from alcohol on their own. 

Once they are clean, they can start with a treatment program. Outpatient addiction treatment in Denver is often a great option for alcoholics, particularly functional alcoholics, because they don’t have to stop their life. They can work or attend school and take care of their families while seeking treatment during the day. However, if your loved one has a serious drinking problem, another addiction and untreated mental health problems, an inpatient program may be best. 

Love unconditionally, but take care of yourself.

Addiction is a progressive disease that will continue to get worse without treatment. Hopefully your loved one will respond well to your talk, but it’s possible they may not. Even if they do respond favorably, they may not be ready to seek outpatient alcohol rehab in Denver

There are a lot of possibilities that can come from this conversation and you must prepare for all of them. At the end of the day, it’s your loved one’s choice to get help. In the meantime, continue taking care of yourself. Go to your support groups, practice good self-care and educate yourself on addiction.

Contact Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado 

Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado is an outpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Denver Colorado that provides partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and standard outpatient care. Our programs are flexible and designed to accommodate busy schedules. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to go over our programs and how they can help your loved one kick their alcohol habit and start a life of sobriety.