How to Confront an Alcoholic: The Best Approach to a Difficult Situation

Updated: Jan 23, 2024

Confronting someone with alcohol use disorder is a stressful situation for both parties involved.

The struggling person is unlikely to follow logic, and the person trying to help them may use strategies or words that make the situation more complicated.

If you want to know how to confront an alcoholic, then you should have a pre-planned response for every reaction they might have. This guide will show how to do that as effectively as possible.

What to Do When Confronting an Alcoholic?

To confront an alcoholic, you need to know what to say and when to say it without triggering or angering the person you’re confronting. Here’s how:

1. Talk to an Intervention Specialist

People often don’t know how to handle it when a loved one has an unhealthy emotional reliance on alcohol. That’s why contacting an intervention specialist is always better than going in blind.

These professionals will show you the dos and don’ts regarding alcohol treatment and help you apply the steps we’re about to show you more successfully.

They can also help you form an intervention team that consists of family members, a mental health professional, and a substance abuse specialist, providing more help to the struggling person.

2. Choose Your Timing and Words Carefully

You shouldn’t approach your loved one when they’re intoxicated. No matter how logical and organized you may seem at the time, your words will either be forgotten or dismissed.

That’s because an intoxicated person won’t be able to process words properly, and you may even anger them by accident.

You should also refrain from using words like ‘alcoholic’ or ‘addict,’ as these harsh words can insinuate to your loved one that it’s their fault, making them feel even worse, which can lead to more drinking.

3. Be Genuine

Use ‘I’ instead of ‘you.’ Try saying: ‘I am concerned about your health and safety’ instead of ‘you worry me.’ The former provides a better sense of connection and has a better chance of eliciting a positive response.

You can also acknowledge the reasons that lead to this condition, even if they’re not valid excuses in your opinion.

Try saying something like: ‘I understand you’ve been struggling with your job lately. I know how hard it can be.’ This acknowledgment lets your loved one feel they’re somewhat heard, even if they seemingly dismiss what you say.

4. Offer Options, Not Demands

People sometimes tend not to do something just because they were told to do it, even if they were planning to do it. This behavior is even more prominent when a person is struggling with alcohol addiction.

That’s why you should provide options that your loved one can choose from instead of ‘asking’ them to stop drinking and seek help.

Fighting alcohol addiction has a much better chance if the person feels that it’s their own choice, and offering options instead of requesting them can help make that happen.

5. Be Prepared for Negativity

Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, you might still get a negative response and end up feeling like your actions were in vain.

It’s important to remember that alcohol abuse can change a person’s demeanor and make them act irresponsibly.

Don’t let improper responses, ignorant reactions, or even outbursts stop you from caring for your loved one.

You probably have built-up negativity because of your loved one’s drinking problem. That said, you shouldn’t let your anger out on the struggling person no matter what happens.

If you let loose your anger, you are much more likely to say hurtful words that can badly damage the trust between you and the person you’re trying to help, rendering your future attempts far less effective.

6. Know When to Step Away

You should know when the conversation is going nowhere and when to stop. Your knowledge of your loved one should let you know when they’ve reached a point where words are no longer adequate.

Stopping is mandatory if you feel your anger is also reaching its limit. Even if you’ve already let out some hurtful words, you shouldn’t allow yourself to blurt it all out.

Final Words

Confronting a friend or family member struggling with alcohol misuse is an integral part of helping them out of the vicious cycle of addiction.

This confrontation shows them that you care and gives them an idea of how dangerous alcohol use disorders are in case they aren’t aware.

To supplement the addiction treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, booking an appointment with Curednation can profoundly impact your loved one’s chances at making a full recovery thanks to the help of our certified telemedicine specialists.

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