It takes courage to talk to a family member or friend about their alcohol use. These tips can help you start the conversation. 

Be prepared.

Get ready for the conversation:

  • Before you talk, take some time to accept your own feelings. It’s normal to feel nervous or upset.
  • 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.

Try to:

  • Use positive language and avoid judging. 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. For example, you can say: “It would 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.”

Get specific.

For example, you can:

  • 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?”

Offer support.

Try to:

  • 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.”
  • Take a break and give your loved one space if the conversation isn’t productive. You can say: “I can see that you’re not ready to talk about this yet. I’m here for you whenever you are ready.”

Make a plan together.

You and your loved one can:

  • 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.

Get help.

You can: