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How To Talk To Someone About Their Drinking Problem

Published on July 30, 2021
How To Talk To An Alcoholic | Concerns, Treatment, & Support

If you have an alcoholic family member or friend, know that alcohol addiction can be treated.

Unfortunately, only the person with the alcohol abuse problem can make the effort to stop drinking. They must first acknowledge their alcohol problem and then make the choice to receive alcohol treatment.

However, you may play a critical role in the life of the person suffering from substance abuse. If you find yourself worried about how to talk to someone who has a drinking problem, take a look at some helpful tips. 

Do Your Research

To be able to speak with someone regarding their drinking problem, you’ll first need to do research and know the right words to say. Acknowledging that addiction is a disease is one of the first steps.

Once you’ve learned more about alcoholism and the health issues that go along with it, try not to feel overwhelmed. Absorb the information and take your time. 

Make A List Of Things To Say

Your self-care is important, so take your time to get your thoughts together. It may be helpful to write a list of things you’d like to say to your loved one. Try to use sentences that begin with “I” to better express your concern.

Don’t Blame, Shame, Or Guilt The Person

Someone with alcohol use disorder (AUD) may also suffer from some form of mental illness. This is why it’s important to be extremely delicate in the way that you speak to the person. 

While you may be angry at your loved one for making bad decisions, we must not blame or shame the person. Those with an addiction problem are suffering from a disease.

Consider Their Mental Health

While alcohol abuse and drug abuse have negative consequences, your loved one doesn’t need to feel hopeless or helpless, especially if they’re already suffering from anxiety or depression. 

Their mental health may be in a fragile state, so we don’t want to preach, threaten, or bribe them. Let them know you’re concerned for their well-being.

Explain Your Concerns & Worries

While we don’t advise using shame or anger as a tactic, we do recommend that you be honest in regards to the way you feel. While you may be hurt by your loved one and not understand why they’re addicted to alcohol, your job is to simply be there for them.

While refraining from using words such as “alcoholic,” be sure to let your loved one know that you believe they may have a drinking problem. Let them know you’re concerned and that you want to help them with their drug addiction.

Offer To Help

You can also offer to find treatment for them and even speak to healthcare professionals together. This will let the person know they aren’t alone. 

Gently Suggest Treatment

Without being pushy, you’ll want to suggest that your loved one stops drinking alcohol and begins a treatment program. While they may be hesitant to receive help at first, make certain they know you’ll assist them along the way.

Offer Guidance

Tell them about possible treatment providers and other health professionals you’ve spoken to. Let them know you’ve researched and that you’re willing to go to family therapy

Let them know some treatment options and support groups that might be of interest such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Al-Anon. Since you’ll be knowledgeable about programs, your loved one may become more interested.

Support Their Recovery Efforts

If a person decides to choose one of the treatment facilities you described, you’ll want to know the facility’s policies before making promises to your loved one. If the treatment center allows visitation, let your loved one know you will stop by and see them.

Be Their Support System During Withdrawal

Your loved one may need referrals to see other doctors. It’s possible that they may need to join an inpatient program to monitor symptoms of withdrawal.

If the person is dealing with alcohol withdrawal and needs to undergo detox, they may be irritable and depressed. Alcoholism treatment can be a difficult process, but if they have a strong support system, which is something you can help to provide, they can live a sober life.

If your loved one is living with substance use disorder, connect with our helpline today to learn about our treatment programs.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Helping a Loved One with a Drinking Problem
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - How to Tell if Your Child is Drinking Alcohol
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Should You Talk to Someone About a Drug, Alcohol, or Mental Health Problem?
US Department of Health & Human Services - How to Help Someone You Know with a Drinking Problem

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