How to Confront an Alcoholic

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Conducting an Intervention: How to Confront an Alcoholic

A National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported study reported that close to a third of adults living in the United States have had alcohol use disorder within their lives, yet only a handful (20 percent) have gotten treatment. When the person who needs help is actively avoiding treatment, as is the situation in most addiction cases, then it can make talking to a loved one about their problem and the need for treatment difficult. In this article, we will talk about how to confront an alcoholic in a way that has a higher likelihood of meeting success and not causing the alcoholic to close themselves off to the idea of treatment. 

Find out more helpful tips for confronting a loved with an alcohol problem by clicking here.

Confirming Your Suspicions

Before we discuss how to confront an alcoholic, we will first discuss the signs that can confirm your suspicions of alcohol use disorder – the term used to describe problematic drinking ranging from alcohol abuse and dependence to addiction.

The signs that can reveal alcohol use disorder include the following psychological signs:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Reduced cognitive function, and learning difficulties
  • Insomnia
  • Mental fatigue
  • Memory loss and blackouts
  • Lowered inhibitions

The physical signs that can reveal alcohol use disorder in another include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Muscle tone loss
  • Constant sleepiness
  • A red tone on their nose or face, and the formation of spider veins on the skin
  • Digestive problems

When they don’t have alcohol for a time, they may start to develop symptoms, which can make them seem ill. Some of the signs of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Irritability
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Nausea and committing
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Appetite loss
  • Sweating

Tips on How to Talk to an Alcoholic

How to confront an alcoholic parent, teen, spouse, or family member should always begin with learning as much as you can about the disease. This will help to dispel myths you may have and it can help you to realize that much of what has occurred thus far is more about the symptoms of an addiction rather than something that you did wrong. The following section explores practical tips on how to confront an alcoholic about their problem.

Professional Intervention Strategies

Before you begin to formulate a plan for an intervention, you may want to explore rehab centers first. As a part of many treatment programs, they may provide intervention services, and no one does an intervention better than an intervention specialist. A professional approach on how to help an alcoholic realize their problem will not only be met with more success, but it can take much of the burden off your shoulders.

Gather Support

A united front can achieve greater success in most cases of alcohol intervention. The support you gather should consist of people that care about the person’s wellbeing and who have been directly affected by the alcohol use disorder. This will allow for each person to share their concerns in a way that promotes the addict’s wellbeing as opposed to selfish reasons. A united front on the issue of alcohol can help to make the person realize the extent of their problem and just how much it’s affecting everyone around them.

Planning What to Say

An intervention can be a very emotional experience, and sometimes emotions in such a situation can cause the point of the intervention to be lost. How to talk to an alcoholic is about avoiding negative emotions in general and approaching it from a supportive, caring, and factual point of view. It won’t help if you become aggressive to a non-responsive alcoholic.

Writing down and discussing what you want to say among the people that are going to join you in the intervention can help to make your points and concerns clear and concise. It will also help you to avoid being distracted from the points you are trying to make.

Choose the Right Time

Timing is everything when it comes to how to help an alcoholic. If you were to confront them when they are intoxicated, then the results will likely be lacking, and they may even forget about the entire situation the next day. How to confront an alcoholic parent, child, spouse, or loved one requires timing to ensure that they aren’t intoxicated. They will also likely be suffering from the consequences of drinking at the time, such as a hangover or withdrawal symptoms, which can help your case.

Don’t Be an Enabler

After learning about the disease of alcoholism, it may become clear that some of the things that you have done in the past may have enabled their behavior. During the intervention, the person may try to manipulate you because their brain is wired to want to continue with their alcohol abuse regardless of the apparent consequences. Allowing them to manipulate you or distract you from the purpose and goal of the intervention is bordering on enabling. Be firm and don’t give in to their efforts to dissuade you.

Organize Treatment Options Beforehand, Including Detox

Even though an alcoholic may be persuaded that their problem has gotten out of their control and they need professional help on the day of the intervention, this motivation may be short lived. It’s important to have treatment options available the moment that they agree to it so as not to lose the opportunity.

Detox programs are very important for people dependent on alcohol because withdrawal from it can be dangerous. As a part of your treatment options, ensure that you have medical detox options; most alcohol rehab programs will include a detox program, too.

Consider an Ultimatum

Due to the way that addiction alters a person’s brain function, they may want to continue to abuse alcohol regardless of the problems that they are causing their loved ones or themselves – a classic characteristic of addiction as discussed in the DSM-V. It may therefore be important that you prepare an ultimatum for the possibility that they turn down treatment. This can be things such as no longer offering them financial support or asking them to move out. It’s important to be ready to follow through on the demands you make because it may facilitate their motivation to want to get better because they see that they will no longer be able to follow the same path.

If you would like to get in touch with an intervention specialist and treatment options in your location, then contact a rehab advisor at Better Addiction Care today by calling us at 1-800-429-7690.