How To Talk To An Alcoholic: 7 Tips

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Communication is the key to having a fruitful relationship, but it can be challenging if the other party is an alcoholic. People whose significant others have an alcohol abuse problem know for a fact that getting a message across can be quite tricky since it can be distorted and turned into an argument.

Because of this, Dr. Maher Soudah, who specializes in addiction rehabilitation, have made it a point to explain how to properly talk to an alcoholic, especially if that person is a loved one. As the director Kaiser Wellness Center, Dr. Soudah and his team acknowledge that communicating your thoughts about your loved one’s addiction to the liquor is important, but he also explained that it can be said in a way that won’t result to a shouting match.

1. Stay calm and composed.

BETHESDA, Md. (Dec. 5, 2011)  
Therapy dogs Lt. Cmdr. Bobbie, Rear Adm. Laura Lee and Marine Sgt. Archie pose for a photo with Army Pfc. Derek McConnell and his fiancee, Krystina Dressler, and his mother, Siobhan McConnell, in McConnell’s hospital room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The dogs visit daily with wounded warriors and their families and help with physical therapy. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peggy Trujillo/Released)

Keeping your calm is imperative when talking to an alcoholic as it would determine how he would react to your statements. Learn to speak in a tone that won’t cause him to feel attacked. This means you should avoid shouting or yelling. Experts also recommend avoiding getting emotional and crying while having this talk as it would only make matters worse. Remember: an alcoholic will try to push your buttons which can trigger strong emotions so be prepared.

2. Speak to the alcoholic when he is sober.

The best time to speak your mind is when your alcoholic loved one is sober since an honest and amicable communication while he is under the influence is almost impossible. This can be right after he woke up as it is usually the time when the alcohol has been flushed out of his system.

3. Extend your patience.

Aside from staying composed, being patient is also a key to successful communication with an alcoholic. While you may be able to control your emotions, your partner may not so it is best to ride the high horse and extend your patience even though he may have outbursts of anger. If you feel that the situation is going nowhere, end the conversation and try another time.

1. Trying to empathize with an alcoholic can be difficult but you should try anyway. This is because understanding where the other person is coming from would make it easier to speak to him calmly and patiently when compared to when you’re talking while with feelings of hurt and despair.

4. Remain honest throughout the conversation.

Staying honest throughout the conversation doesn’t necessarily mean you have to point fingers. What you need to be honest about is how you feel about an alcoholic’s condition and how it has affected your relationship. It is also good to say when you are starting to feel like you need to walk out on him but make sure he or she knows that the is alcohol to blame and not himself.

5. Be an active listener. 

Communication is a two-way process so make sure to be an active listener while speaking to an alcoholic. Not interrupting when the other person is talking will make him feel respected. Through this, he would know that you are there, listening and caring for him as well.


Hold off intervention-like statements.

Be careful about what you say as statements that seem like you are intervening or lecturing might cause an alcoholic to erupt. Timing your statements well is also advisable when speaking to an alcoholic as it would help avoid unnecessary arguments. Some may find speaking to alcoholics about the consequences of their condition after they experience negative consequences like losing their job, a DUI arrest, and divorce would help them understand that liquor is to blame for their suffering.

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