Thursday, October 30, 2008

Too Much Of A Good Thing

How do you address your concern about a loved one's drinking pattern?

That's hard news if you're concerned about a friend or family member's drinking. But there's good news, too. By skillfully approaching this person, you can make a lifesaving difference.

The following is an excerpt from the Hazelden website.

Using the following guidelines to help gain the influence needed to start a loved one on recovery:

Time your message carefully. Talk to loved ones shortly after they've experienced a problem related to drinking. These problems could range from a family argument to divorce, loss of a job, or arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Avoid talking to people while they're intoxicated. Wait until the following day when the person is clear-headed and when the problem related to his or her drinking is still fresh in mind. At that time you have a better chance of getting your message across.

Focus on consequences. It's usually best to talk to people about how their drinking is actually hurting them. Explain how their drinking behavior is self-defeating. Focus on the discomfort, the psychological distress, the emotional pain your loved one feels. You can say things like, "It really hurts me to see you go through all of this."

Avoid lecturing. Some people assume that a direct, hard-edged confrontation is the only way they can convince a loved one to get help. But this strategy often backfires. Sermonizing or scolding people for their behavior may invite further resistance and denial. Instead, take a compassionate approach and show care and respect for the individual. Use nonjudgmental language and don't blame or criticize. Don't label the person as alcoholic or demand that they seek treatment. State your concerns and encourage your loved one to be assessed by an addiction professional.

Maintain rapport. When approaching a loved one about a drinking problem, the most important thing you can do is to maintain rapport. If you make a comment that this person interprets as shaming or blaming, you weaken that rapport.

Expect the worst. Your loved one might get angry, deny the drinking problem, and tell you to mind your own business. Don't take it personally; these are common reactions. Denial is one of the unfortunate symptoms of alcoholism. After loved ones cool down and experience more negative consequences from drinking, they might take your message to heart. You may have planted the seed for recovery.

Offer assistance in getting help. If your friend is ready for help, be prepared to refer that person to a source of help. Escort them to the source of help and take part in the process as needed.