Engaging in these steps will make for a smoother transition on not only how to live with an alcoholic, but more importantly, how to talk to someone about their drinking. Confronting an alcoholic isn’t an easy task, but providing the necessary support and getting them the proper help is worth the conversation. Whether the alcoholic is a family member, close friend, or partner, you can still play an essential role in their journey to sobriety.
This article will discuss various alcohol use disorders, how to talk to someone about their drinking, how to most effectively assist them, and also how to take care of your self-care and yourself during this entire process. It’s vital to remember that it can and most likely will take more than one conversation to persuade the alcoholic to receive treatment. However, by being diligent in showing your concern and support, you might be able to assist them in seeing that they have a problem and that it would be beneficial to receive addiction treatment.
Drinking becomes more of a concern when the individual’s life is affected to the extent that they can no longer control their overall alcohol use. So, because of that, they continue to drink regardless of the extent of the negative impact it carries over their life. Once a person’s drinking progresses to this extent, the person likely has an alcohol use disorder.
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is considered a chronic yet treatable condition that can develop in correlation with particular psychological adaptations and cognitive changes that make it increasingly difficult for an individual to stop drinking even if they want to. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), it’s suspected that someone has an AUD if they meet at least two of the following criteria that are outlined here:
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, sweating, racing heart, seizures, shakiness when they attempt to stop drinking or reduce intake significantly
- Needing to drink more than they are used to feel the same effects of alcohol
- Continuing to engage in drinking despite the mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, or a physical health issue that is either caused or worsened by drinking
- Getting themselves into dangerous situations during drinking or after drinking increases the chances of harming themselves or others (such as drinking before they drive)
- Stopping or cutting back on time spent on hobbies and other activities the individual once enjoyed doing so they can drink instead
- Continuing to engage in drinking despite the problems it causes with family and friends
- Being unable to meet responsibilities at home, work, or school because of the drinking
- Experiencing cravings, which also means feeling the need to drink to the extent that the person can’t think of anything else
- Spending a great deal of time drinking and/or recovering from drinking
- Expressing a desire to cut down or stop drinking but being unable to do so
- Drinking more often or even in higher amounts than originally intended
When an individual consumes more than one drink a day which is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer for women and two drinks per day for men, it might be considered unhealthy drinking. It’s important to remember that only a physician can diagnose an individual with an AUD. However, being aware of the AUD signs can help an individual prepare for a conversation on how to talk to someone about their drinking.
If you begin to notice certain physical changes in a loved one that could indicate they might have a drinking problem, it might appear as the following signs:
- Sleeping more than usual or appearing tired
- Alcohol on their breath
- Bloodshot eyes
- Unsteady gait
Once the physical signs of an alcoholic appear, behavioral signs might also appear, such as:
- Becoming frequently angry
- Moody, for no reason
The individual you suspect might have a drinking issue might appear to be intoxicated, less interested in work activities, schoolwork, relationships, or unable to refuse an alcohol offer. Sometimes individuals struggling with alcohol misuse might begin telling lies or even being secretive about their alcohol use, whereabouts, or more. However, these factors alone aren’t indicative of an alcoholic problem when other suggestive signs accompany it.
Overall, you must seek help for yourself first and take the needed time to learn and understand alcoholism. Upon confronting an alcoholic, don’t try to control the person or “babysit their sobriety.” If you need a treatment center that is willing to stand in the gap for you, look no further.
We start our alcoholic treatment program with a drug detox to help the alcoholic overcome psychological and physical dependence on the drug. We’ll strive to ensure that the withdrawal process is as bearable as possible before moving on to treatment which includes partial care, outpatient treatment programs, and residential treatment to name a few. Let’s get started.
Medically Reviewed By
Nicole Rettino-Lambert LCSW, LCADC, CCS, CCTP, CSTIP
Nicole Rettino-Lambert is a dually licensed clinician with over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in both addiction treatment and mental health treatment. Along with extensive experience in clinical work, she has held leadership roles in both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatments centers in New Jersey. Throughout her various leadership positions, Rettino-Lambert has developed clinical programming, assisted staff in their growth and development in the clinical field, and had the privilege of helping numerous individuals on their path to recovery.