confronting an alcoholic

Confronting the Alcoholic in Your Life

When confronting a person about their drinking, be sure to do it in a loving way. Don’t yell and accuse or threaten the person. Tell them that you are concerned about their drinking and that you are afraid that they may have a problem. After you confront the person about their drinking, they may try to control it. If you are still bothered by it, it is important that you do something to help yourself. You do not want to enable them or become obsessed with their drinking. Oftentimes, the alcoholic doesn’t want help. It is important that you get help for you and the rest of the family.

When the time is right, make it clear that you are always there to talk about his problems and possibly find a solution with him. In that conversation, you will have to try to motivate the drinker to change his situation. There are a few important items related to this:

1. Make the drinker feel positive about himself. Many drinkers think very negatively about themselves and find themselves useless. Don’t reproach, but give compliments about the things that do go right and the reasons why you love them and want to support them.

2. Take away the prejudices about treatment, such as the idea that people are always hospitalized, that therapy only consists of talking, or that others will judge him.

3. Give the drinker a perspective. Examples you can use are that he will have more money if he doesn’t drink, that he will have better contact with his family, that he will have better health, a better chance for a job, etc.

4. Listen also to possible problems that make the person keep drinking, but indicate that drinking will not solve these, but only make them worse.

5. If he doesn’t want to be helped or cannot be helped, ask him what needs to happen to convince him to get treatment.

Be ready to help. Collect information on various methods of treatment. If an alcoholic agrees to treatment you will have done the research and be ready to discuss options with him.

4 thoughts on “Confronting the Alcoholic in Your Life”

  1. Your very good and informative article, like so many similar articles about alcoholism, quickly slips into the stereotypical assumption that the alcoholic is male! Re-edit and get it sorted, please.

    ‘1. Make the drinker feel positive about himself. ‘

    ‘3. Give the drinker a perspective. Examples you can use are that he will have more money if he doesn’t drink, that he will have better contact with his family, that he will have better health, a better chance for a job, etc.’

    ‘5. If he doesn’t want to be helped or cannot be helped, ask him what needs to happen to convince him to get treatment.’

    Your article puts visual imagery of male behaviour and does nothing to ‘relate’ to my female, alcoholic partner.

    Also little attention is given to ‘high functioning alcoholics’, I know at least five. They are a particular problem group as they know what’s going on, don’t cause a fuss, get on with life and yet are destroying themselves. Little is ever said about his group and how to help them.

    So chin up, keep trying and a lot less ‘lazy journalism’, please, kind regards


    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write and let me firstly say that I am truly sorry that you or anyone else have the need to visit such sites as this, and I’m saying that with all my heart. I started blogging about the topic about 7 years ago as a way of keeping my own sanity while my husband was drinking. I felt isolated and wanted to vent my anger and frustration. I found or developed different methods to cope and get through the challenges of my reactions to his behaviour and as time went on I shared these in the blog. So the blog started out as a first person account of the different steps I took while living with an alcoholic. My aim was never to achieve journalism excellence or to write a book about it. Thankfully my husband has now been alcohol free for over 4 years.

      Unfortunately, I know too well addiction is not just a male problem. My only sister died from alcohol 7 years ago – she was a beautiful mother to two children and had a high powered job, so for years she, like my husband, was a high-functioning alcoholic. However, I have found all alcoholics start out the same, they work, socialise, function and everyone thinks they are great until they get behind closed doors and only those living with them experience the real affects of their drinking. Eventually this mask begins to slip and then it crashes. The final years of my sister’s life were pure hell. I don’t write about it here because as an adult, I didn’t live in the same house as her, I could walk away from her behaviour and go to my own home. A very different ‘skill set’ is needed when living in the same house as an alcoholic and it is the same whether your partner is male or female. This blog/site/book is not about how you can help alcoholic loved ones, it is about how you can help yourself and live a more fulfilled life while living with a drinking partner.

      In the opening of my book ‘Action Plan for Living With An Alcoholic’ I do state:
      For consistency purposes, throughout the book, I refer to the alcoholic as ‘your partner’. This can mean boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife.
      This book is aimed at both men and women who are living with an alcoholic partner. However, throughout the book I refer to the alcoholic you are living with as ‘he’. I fully acknowledge that alcoholism is a major issue for women, too and that the ‘he’ referral is used purely for ease of reading, but can be substituted for ‘she’ when applicable.

      Using one gender just makes it easier to read. I do note that I have not stated the same on this website and, thanks to you, I will now correct that in the ‘about’ section.

      At the end of the day whether your partner is male or female the affects of their drinking behaviour is the same on us all.

      I do hope you can read beyond my gender oversight and find solice or strength from the underlying message of each of my posts and visit here again.

      Take care of yourself.


      1. Wow I have just come across this blog, amazing for the first time I have come across what I believe is a real time view of life.
        I believe my wife could be called an alcoholic, so I get nick’s comments about gender specifics.
        However I have moved on from that and I found the articles/blogs really helpful.

  2. Unfortunately I am here and wish no one had to be here.
    I am dealing with it with my Mum and it has been 12yrs. 7 of those have been pure hell and it still is happening.
    My family is just watching her kill herself.

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