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What to say to someone with a drinking problem

22nd February 2021 Print

Many people resort to taking alcohol to "calm their nerves" or deal with stressful situations. While it might initially work, the problem is that it is so easy to get hooked to the world’s most popular soft drug. Some indulge in it just for the fun and while making merry. Whatever your excuses for taking alcohol are, it’s only safe for you if taken in moderation. Many alcohol consumers find themselves slowly becoming heavy drinkers or habitual drunkards. It eventually turns into a drinking disorder or even dependency, which can have deleterious effects on one’s life. When dealing with an alcoholic loved one, you have to watch your tongue carefully before you make things worse.

The Problem 

Alcoholism is by far one of the biggest societal menaces for as long as anyone would remember. It often leads to broken marriages and relationships, lost jobs, and wasted opportunities. Tons of statistical data have also shown how traffic crashes are among the leading causes of death around the globe, and US states like California are not an exception. A recent piece from CBH rehab centers showed how drunk driver accidents have spiked in California’s Huntington Beach over the past few years. The city even earned a new title as California’s DUI capital. Of course, the devastating effects of heavy drinking on one’s mental and physical health are not to go unmentioned.

The Solutions 

If a loved one or someone you know has a drinking problem, there are a few ways to intervene. This could include as simple as talking to them so they open up about their underlying issues or getting professional help for them. Nonetheless, the things you say to an alcoholic will go a long way in determining whether or not they manage to recover from the hook. On this note, below are some helpful tips on what to say to a person with a drinking problem.

1. Avoid Shaming and Accusatory Speech: 

When addressing someone with a drinking issue, you may get overwhelmed with emotions and say things that you end up regretting. Alcoholics tend to be quite defensive and full of denial, but they are also vulnerable and already suffering. The last thing you want to do to such a person is to utter words that end up choking them with guilt or demeaning their self-worth. Instead, you can use optimistic words or language that gives them hope to overcome their issues in the future. This also prepares them mentally before you share various solutions and treatments available for alcoholism.

2. Have a Stand: 

When communicating and having conversations, be consistent in what you say or do. For instance, you cannot complain about their drinking while paying their whiskey bills. That will encourage them to sip more. It will also sound rhetoric for you to ask them to quit drinking while you drink in their presence. Lead by example, and they can weigh the situation according to how you portray it. Understand the science behind drug abuse, and you will be in a better position to give the required and correct information. State your concerns soberly, and they will be received soberly.

3. Explain With Examples: 

When you are about to have this conversation, you need to pick the right moment, time, and environment for it. It will be best to have it when they are sober but not on a hangover. They may be too tired to listen to you. Once you have it right, talk to them softly without emotions and allow them to speak. Let them feel heard and supported. Make them understand how their drinking is affecting you.  

For instance, you could say something like, “Ted was scared at how aggressive you were on Friday. What you are doing is not healthy for the kids.” If they at some point went physical, verbal, or abusive in whichever way, let them know how it is breaking bonds. Real examples will make them see the sense and intensity of their actions.  


4. Be Prepared for Resistance: 

As earlier mentioned, an alcoholic may seem defensive when you talk about it, but that should not stop you from the willingness to help them. Denial is a common trait in most of them, and they may end up being angry, dismissive, or laugh it off. Be armed for push-backs. Make them understand how their drinking affects you and the people around them. Explain how their drinking can affect their productivity, possibly contributing to them losing their job.

Finally, you will need to show some consistency. You may be willing to help them, but we are humans, we get tired along the way. Do not give up; bring it up again. However, do not try to criticize them in their acts. Let them learn about how their behaviors are affecting your feelings. Don’t give up yet. Remember, you want to see them walk through the bad drinking habits and come out as winners. Get reliable about your beliefs about their drinking problem but be careful of the words you use on them.

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