If you’re trying to communicate with someone who is struggling with an alcohol addiction, the way you speak is really important. What you say matters, too, but if you say things in a way that puts up their guard and makes it hard for them to hear you, then what’s the point?
So, if your goal is to communicate effectively with somebody that’s dealing with an addiction, keep the following points in mind:
Things You Shouldn’t Say To Alcoholics
Anything spur of the moment that could be hurtful or even harmful to their recovery.
Confronting somebody about their drinking is a very difficult conversation. Chances are, they are well aware that they’re having problems with alcohol, even if they don’t necessarily realize how serious things have become.
This is a topic that needs to be approached very carefully, so think about what you’re going to say ahead of time and don’t deviate much from that because you could end up saying something out of frustration or where you simply don’t express what you meant to say, and it can be something that sticks with the other person and haunts them.
There’s a lot of guilt that comes along with alcoholism, or feeling inadequate, and plenty of other issues relating to mental turmoil.
Blaming someone for their alcoholism simply isn’t helpful.
One person might be able to have a drink here and there, and an alcoholic might not be able to stop at a couple drinks. There’s all sorts of ways to dig deeper into this in relation to why some people are alcoholics and some aren’t, but at the end of the day, nobody makes the conscious choice to struggle with alcohol addiction.
This isn’t to say that people have zero responsibility for their actions, but it’s helpful to remember that some people are able to control themselves better than others, and nobody makes the choice to struggle with such a difficult thing as alcoholism.
“I know what you’re going through”.
If you haven’t dealt with alcoholism, it’s not really fair to say “I know how you feel” because you probably don’t. Even if you’ve faced your own struggles and addictions, this type of phrase comes off as empty and hollow, even if you genuinely mean it in a sincere way.
To take it a step further, even if you have dealt with alcoholism, that doesn’t mean you know exactly what somebody else is going through.
“You don’t seem like an alcoholic…”
If someone tells you they’re struggling with alcohol, don’t downplay it. Even if they don’t fit your mold of what a “full blown alcoholic” might look or act like, that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling or seeking help and support from you.
You don’t really know how bad it is for them, so this could give them a false sense that they don’t actually need to change their habits, seek support, and so on. You don’t want to talk an alcoholic out of getting support if they believe they need it and have mustered the strength to seek it out.