It takes courage to talk to a family member or friend about a drinking problem. These tips can help.
- Before you talk, take some time to accept your own feelings. It’s normal to feel nervous or upset, but try to be calm when you talk with your loved one.
- Practice what you’ll say. Try writing a script or roleplaying the conversation with a friend ahead of time.
- Plan to keep it brief. Try focusing on just 1 change that could help your loved one.
- Find a good time and place to talk. Wait until you’re both feeling calm and you can focus on the conversation without distractions.
Keep it positive.
- Use positive language. Instead of “I wish you wouldn’t drink every night,” try “How about trying a few alcohol-free nights each week?”
- Focus on the benefits of making a change. You can ask, “Wouldn’t it be great to spend more time together as a family?”
- Emphasize that quitting drinking or drinking less is possible. You can say, “Lots of people have struggled with alcohol. You’re not alone, and it can get better.”
- Give specific reasons for your concerns based on what you see and feel. You can say, “I’m worried about your drinking because I’ve noticed you’ve been missing work.”
- Make specific suggestions. Try saying, “Let’s do things that don’t involve drinking. How about seeing a movie?”
- Show that you understand. Say, “I know that drinking less is hard for you. How can I support you?”
- Be available for your loved one. You can say, “Talk to me when you want a drink. Whenever you feel the urge to drink, you can call or text me instead.”
Make a plan together.
- Work together to make a list of goals. Choose 1 goal as a first step — like taking 2 nights off from drinking each week. Make sure it’s something you can measure easily.
- Set a date to talk again and see how it’s going. Offer encouragement if it’s going well, and set different goals if it’s not working.
- Encourage your loved one to visit the doctor. Offer to make the appointment and go along for support.
- If your loved one is ready to get treatment, use this tool to explore alcohol treatment options together.