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Steps To Take To Convince Your Loved One To Get Help

Watching a family member, friend, or other loved one struggle with alcohol abuse can be difficult. There are many reasons why you may need to convince your loved one to seek professional help. The person may not be aware that they have an alcohol problem or may be in denial about it. The prospect of facing the consequences of addiction can be frightening for many people who suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD). The stigma surrounding addiction can make a person feel embarrassed about their condition and refuse to admit it to themselves or others. Alcohol dependency may be perceived as a weakness, and the need to be self-reliant can stop a person from seeking help. Due to these and other reasons, denial plays a big role in perpetuating alcohol addiction, and it can be challenging to convince your loved one to start rehab. Don’t underestimate the power of denial as a defense mechanism.

Concerns about how to pay for treatment may be another reason why some avoid seeking help, but the costs of addiction far outweigh the costs of rehab. Spending money to maintain an alcohol addiction strains a person’s and their family’s finances, in addition to causing mental anguish. With a wide variety of treatment options available across the country and with help from loved ones and peers, a person can detox from alcohol and embark on the road to recovery. Reaching out to someone you love who you know struggles with alcohol can make a tremendous difference in helping them decide to start treatment.

Here are some steps you can take to convince your loved one to get professional help.

Learn About Alcohol Use Disorder, And Avoid Making Excuses

An AUD, or alcoholism, is more than just having too much to drink from time to time. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of AUD, even though some people can hide addiction to an extent. Friends and family may try to protect an alcoholic from the consequences of their behavior by making excuses or helping them out of alcohol-related situations. In order to help your loved one, you must learn to spot the signs of alcohol abuse and let the person bear full responsibility for their actions, however difficult that may be. Enabling them only prolongs the addiction.

Practice What You Will Say, And Be Specific

Before approaching your loved one, carefully consider and practice what you will say. Let the person know that you are there for them, and avoid being negative, hurtful, or judgmental. Using “I” statements can soften potentially accusatory statements and allows you to be an active participant in the conversation. Rather than saying, “You’re an alcoholic, and you need help,” you can say, “I love you, and I’m concerned about how much you’re drinking. I’m worried it may be harming your health, and I want to help you find professional help.”

Try to back up your concerns with examples of the negative effects of alcohol on your loved one and others, but avoid discussing these examples with anger or judgment. Be prepared for any response, but remain calm and assure your loved one that they have your respect and support. For additional help, family members and loved ones can benefit by going to Al-Anon or Alateen to receive support and learn concrete and safe ways to cope.

Choose The Time And Place

It is extremely important to choose an appropriate time to have a serious conversation with your loved one about getting help. Consider having a discussion shortly after an alcohol-related incident, but make sure to choose a time when you are both in a calm state of mind. It is best to speak privately in a place where you will not be interrupted. Most importantly, your loved one should be sober during the conversation.

Approach And Listen With Honesty And Compassion

If you suspect your loved one has an alcohol problem, you should be open and honest with them. Do not wait until they hit rock bottom to intervene. Instead, let them know you are worried and want to be supportive. Be ready to receive negative backlash, but do not take it personally. Give your loved one time and space to make their own decision and listen to what they have to say.

State The Consequences, But Offer Support

When you try to convince a loved one to seek help for alcohol addiction, make sure you are not enabling their behavior. Friends and family may try to step in and “solve” any alcohol-related issues, but in doing so, they may take away any motivation your loved one had to take responsibility for their actions.

Consequences are important and should be stated clearly. Consequences can include not allowing the person entry to the house when they have been drinking or refusing to bail them out of trouble. Let your loved one know you are not trying to punish them, and you simply want to protect yourself from the harmful effects of their drinking. Assist them in finding treatment, and make sure to ask for concrete commitment and follow up if your loved one agrees to seek help.

Be Prepared To Act Or Intervene

If you convince your loved one to seek help, take action by calling a treatment center or a counselor and making  them an appointment. It may help to gather information in advance about treatment programs and rehab facilities. Some families may choose to organize an intervention with the help of a professional therapist or encouragement from a caring, objective third party, like a peer-support specialist.

Take Action To Convince Your Loved One To Get Help

If you’re ready to find help for your loved one but you’re not sure where to start, contact a treatment provider today to talk about different options. Be patient, and remember that treatment for AUD is a long process. The most successful recovery happens when a person has a strong desire to change.

  • Author: Ginni Correa | Last Updated: June 20, 2022

    Photo of Ginni Correa

    Ginni Correa

    Digital Content Writer

    Ginni Correa is a writer who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and double majored in Psychology and Spanish. Ginni has worked as an art therapist in a behavioral health hospital where she found a passion working with at-risk populations.

  • Medical Reviewer: Deborah Montross Nagel

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