Alcohol abuse and alcohol is not something to take lightly, it is a disease. The disease of alcoholism impacts people everywhere without discrimination.
Unfortunately, alcohol abuse takes the lives of over 88,000 people in the United States every year.
If someone close to you is hurting and struggling with alcohol, there are ways you can help. However, it’s important to be prepared and understand what you should not say to someone with alcoholism.
In order for people to properly recover, they will need a variety of support from many different facets. Here are three things you should avoid saying while someone is struggling with alcohol addiction.
1. “You Can Just Stop Drinking at Any Time.”
For those of us who aren’t alcoholics, it might seem like quitting is a simple, easy task. But for someone with a drinking problem, the process of stopping is not quite as simple as just putting the bottle down and walking away.
When you tell an alcoholic they can “just stop,” you’re implying that their drinking problem is a choice. The truth is, most alcoholics are struggling with the fact that they have a drinking problem every day.
Just like other addicts, alcoholics would probably love to stop using if only they could. By telling them to just stop drinking, you’re implying that they lack the simple willpower that most people have to quit.
While starting to drink alcohol is definitely a person’s individual choice, once the grips of alcoholism take hold, the process of quitting is not as easy as it may seem.
Keep in mind that alcoholics are not always aware of their behavior, and you should never take their actions personally. It’s difficult to not blame yourself but remember that any addict must take personal responsibility for their own actions before they can really travel the road to recovery.
2. “You Don’t Look/Seem Like an Alcoholic to Me.”
For many people, they are able to drink heavily and still maintain a career or even a family. This is commonly referred to as a “functioning alcoholic.”
And while a person might look like they have it all together, deep inside, they are probably suffering. Remember that you don’t often get to see what goes on behind closed doors in someone’s private life.
By telling someone they don’t look like an alcoholic, you’re insinuating that their problem isn’t really real. Every person is unique, and not all people will fit the mold of a stereotypical addict or alcoholic.
Yes, there are signs that someone may have a drinking problem, but the issue is not always on the outside. Be patient and understanding with your friends or loved ones who are struggling with alcohol.
Another problem with telling someone they don’t look like an alcoholic is that you’re potentially shaming them, which in turn will make it more difficult for them to admit they truly have a serious problem.
If you know someone has a drinking problem, try not to consume alcohol in front of them. If you’re at a part, never tempt them with an alcoholic beverage. Instead, allow them to behave naturally and encourage them to do other things like play a game, listen to music or eat delicious food.
With constant support, the person you think never looked like an alcoholic has a chance to become the person they were always meant to be.
3. What Not to Say to an Alcoholic: Yelling and Screaming
When someone close to you has a substance abuse problem, it can be frustrating and infuriating. Dealing with hurt and anger is definitely a challenge that’s tough to overcome.
And although the person you care for may do things to hurt you and others, yelling at them is never the answer. It can be really tempting to scream at someone out of sheer frustration and anger.
Asking someone why they can’t just “get it together” and telling them how horrible they are is never the answer. You should never enable someone, but that doesn’t mean you have to be angry at them, either.
Often when you yell at an alcoholic, it can trigger them and make them want to drink more. Many times, people who are yelled at will tend to hide and drink in secrecy.
It can be extremely tempting to tell someone how selfish they are when they’re drinking. Being accusatory or saying inflammatory things can create feelings of guilt, which may result in the person turning to even more alcohol.
Screaming and being angry only compounds the problem when it comes to an alcoholic. Instead, try your best to be as patient as possible and let them do most of the talking. By lending an ear instead of yelling, you’re showing that person respect and support instead of judging them.
What You Can Do to Help
Once you’re aware of what not to say to an alcoholic, you can begin the authentic process of helping and healing. By providing your friend or loved one with a supportive ear, you can discover new ways to give them the help they need.
Sometimes, a crisis will happen that is beyond your control. As a caring individual, you can be there to help someone when things fall to pieces. Offer a listening ear and always remember that words matter.
A key takeaway when dealing with an alcoholic is that they must want to get help before real healing can begin.
For more information on how to love an addict, the healing process, and where to get help, please visit our website.