3 Things to Say and 3 Things Not to Say to a Loved One Struggling with Alcohol Addiction

July 1, 2021

If you have a loved one who seems to have moved from alcohol use to alcohol abuse, you are probably wondering what to do next. The most important thing you can do is to gently point your loved one in the direction of professional help, however this is seldom an easy thing to do. Defensiveness, denial, and self-pride can often get in the way of your loved one responding well to the advice of friends and family. Though you cannot guarantee a perfect response from your loved one, here are a few ways to adjust your wording to be the most effective. 

Instead of “You have a problem.” say “I’ve noticed you used to X but now you do Y.”

It is very important that your loved one realizes that they have a problem, however simply stating this as a fact may leave your loved one feeling very defensive. Many times, those struggling with alcohol addiction feel that they have the problem under control. They may be in denial or simply not realize how unsafe their choices are. Pointing out changes in behavior may be helpful to bring these issues to light. 

Instead of “You need to get help.” say “How can I help you get through this?”

The former statement may leave your loved one feeling alone and helpless. They may not know where to turn to for help. When you ask how you can help them, this may be the perfect opportunity to present potential resources that may be of help to them. This latter statement lets them know they are not alone and have a support system to rely upon. 

Instead of “You don’t have to listen to me.” say “I’ll be here for you when you’re ready”

It could be easy to be offended if your loved one doesn’t want to hear what you have to say when you are simply coming to them out of genuine concern. However, it is vital to remain calm and caring and let them know that even if they are uninterested in your concern now, they can still come to you at any time. 

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