It’s not always easy to approach a loved one with concern about the possibility that they may be an alcoholic. You run the risk of evoking a negative and sometimes angry response from them if they are in denial. For this reason, it is wise to learn a little bit about how to approach such a person. Tune in for some tips on how you can tell a close person if you think they have a drinking problem.
Statistics from the United States Department of Health and Human Services show that half of all adults are related to or know someone battling addiction. Family and friends are usually the first to spot alcohol abuse since they witness the behavior and aftermath frequently. As such, their early warning signs should not be ignored.
Dealing with Denial
Almost every person who has a drinking problem goes through a period of denial. Co-workers, friends and family members normally confront those they suspect to have a drinking problem to inquire if there is a problem, however, the person does not want to recognize that there is something wrong.
When you believe that someone who is close to you has a drinking problem, it is advisable to mention it to them in a calm and caring way.
By doing so, your actions can significantly influence them, as opposed to demanding that they change their behavior immediately. Remember, many alcoholics simply do not want to believe that they are addicted to alcohol.
Compassion Not Confrontation
It is important to raise your family or friend’s drinking problem in a non-judgmental way. Most people are of the notion that approaching such an issue in a confrontational way is the only solution. Taking such a hardline stance only serves to stiffen the resistance of the person in question. Simply show respect and let them know that you care. After all, you want to confront them because you care.
Cite a few situations to support your concerns.
Be specific regarding the places, time and dates and then relate the incident to their drinking problem. Lay more emphasis on the behavior and possible long-term health issues that could arise, rather than the person. Explain to your friend or family member how their behavior could be detrimental to them. Ensure that your feelings and emotional reactions to the problems are clearly shown. This approach is very important in dealing with individuals regarded as high functioning alcoholics whose capacity to support a family and hold a job at the same time strengthens their denial. They will not immediately stop drinking; however, you will have tilted the behavioral mechanisms that permit them to continue drinking.
Always be ready to receive defensive responses and angry denials, but do not take them as a personal attack on you. Such reactions are normal among alcoholics who are rarely confronted about their behavior. If they want proof, ask them to adhere to a low risk drinking limit like 2 drinks per sitting. When it dawns on them that they are unable to stick to these limits, they may begin being more receptive towards your concerns. Help your friend or family member by referring them to support groups, treatment centers and substance abuse counselors. Do not attempt to diagnose their condition, as it is wise to leave that to a professional. It is also important to remember not to raise these issues with them while they are intoxicated, but wait until they clear up and they are able to understand your concerns.