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How Therapists Suggest to Talk to Loved Ones About Their Alcoholism

Talking with a loved one about their alcoholism is not always easy, especially as alcoholism has a tendency to trigger denial in individuals. When you have a loved one who is clearly struggling with an addiction to alcohol and you’re wondering how to help them go to a rehabilitation center, knowing how to breach the topic is imperative to prevent your loved one from isolating and alienating themselves from you altogether. By learning how therapists suggest to talk to loved ones about alcoholism and to encourage loved ones to face addiction head-on is a way to approach the situation without judgment and with tact and grace.

Get Educated About Alcoholism

Learning about alcoholism is one of the first steps to truly understanding it before approaching a loved one about their own addiction. SAMHSA, or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides a full substance abuse treatment booklet for families to acclimate themselves with addiction and alcoholism. Once you are familiar with the signs, symptoms, and adverse effects of alcoholism, it will become much easier to approach the subject with your loved one who is in need of help.

Consider What You Will Say

Simply confronting a loved one about their alcoholism may cause them to retreat, deny their addiction, or avoid you altogether. In order to truly connect with your friend or family member it is important to consider what you will say before attempting the conversation you have in mind. Consider how your loved one may respond and how you can address their struggles without appearing harsh, judgmental, or cynical. Think of how your loved one may feel when you address their alcoholism by empathizing with the potential root causes and triggers of their addiction itself.

Choose the Right Time a Conversation

Choosing the right time to discuss an addiction is essential, especially if your loved one has a serious or severe addiction to alcohol. Always avoid addressing addiction during major gatherings, holidays, or when there are others around. Do not attempt to address your loved one’s alcoholism while they are intoxicated, as this may lead to greater disputes and heated arguments.

Express Your Love and Concern

Rather than solely focusing on your loved one’s addiction and alcoholism, be sure to express the love and care you have for them when starting your conversation. Express how much they mean to you and how you are concerned about their mental health and wellbeing prior to addressing their alcoholism.

Avoid Bombardment

Speaking to a loved one about addiction is a big enough event on its own. Adding additional individuals into the mix is not recommended or advisable, especially if you are unsure of how your loved one may react. Addressing your loved one’s addiction to alcohol in a one-on-one scenario is optimal to prevent them from becoming overwhelming or increasingly agitated in the situation. Speaking to your loved one in a private situation also ensures them that you respect their privacy and are not willing to embarrass them in order to pressure them into seeking help or assistance with their addiction.

Research and Provide Resources

Research local inpatient, intensive outpatient programs, and traditional outpatient program resources in your local area before speaking with your loved one. When you are familiar with various resources that are available near you, encouraging your loved one is much easier and may be met with less resistance. When seeking out treatment programs and rehabilitation facilities, be sure to inquire about program lengths, requirements, and the types of services that are provided to determine which solutions are ideal for the loved one you are trying to help.

Be Patient

Allow your loved one to go at their own pace while seeking help for their addiction. Avoid pushing your loved one into a program or bombarding them with an intervention if they are willing to pursue help. Sobriety is a lifelong journey, which is why it is so important to remain patient throughout the process at all times.

Understanding how to speak on the topic of alcoholism is essential anytime you intend to confront a loved one about their own addiction. When you feel comfortable with the topic, discuss the issues at hand without feeling overwhelmed or out of place. Having knowledge of alcoholism and knowing how to properly approach the topic with a loved one who is struggling with addiction is a great way to get started with providing them with the resources they need to live a life of sobriety.