DUI Q&A Series - How Do I Talk to a Family Member About Drinking?

alcoholic and distressed family member


How do you talk about a drinking problem with family or friends? Steve Uhrich from Assessment and Treatment Associates joins us again to explain the approaches they take when confronting a person's drinking behaviors. It's important that a person with a drinking problem is ready to talk about their issue before engaging in an intervention or an individual assessment. Everyone's “rock bottom” is different, and the reasons for confronting their drinking vary from person to person.


I think everybody knows someone who they're concerned about with regard to their use of substances.

It's tricky because you have to get an understanding of their sensitivity and their defensiveness because that's a natural mechanism people use when they're approached by someone that's concerned about their drinking, they can get defensive.

There's something called an intervention, you might've heard of and that's my family members and friends get together in a house or a safe place and surprise the person with a meeting.

And there's usually a moderator there that guides the family and friends through the process and hopefully gets this person to sit down and listen.

And what they're listening for is they're listening for, listen to each person talk about how alcohol has affected their lives and how they've seen alcohol affect this person's lives, negatively usually and tell them how much they love them, tell them how much they care about them and how much they wanna help.

And the goal of an intervention at the end is to get someone immediately, when I mean immediately, their suitcases are packed in advance typically, and they're ready to go into an inpatient facility where a bed is reserved for them already.

Those are pretty serious cases where someone has a pretty serious alcohol problem.

If you were not looking at an intervention which is not for everybody, I would suggest that you sit down and have a conversation about their drinking and what you've noticed, and that you care about them, and that you feel like this is a little out of the normal range and encourage them to see if they can come get an independent assessment and just to hear what the result would be.

And then that person needs to process that on their own and decide whether or not they are ready. When I mean ready, everybody is at a different point.

Rock bottom is not the same for everyone. Rock bottom for some people has to be dying, or drinking until they die and that's very sad, and we've seen that before, and that's not where anybody wants to be.

Rock bottom for someone else can be just the fact that they embarrassed themselves at a party and got drunk and staggered around and again, felt shameful.

And that could be enough for someone to say I'm done drinking for a while or permanently.

Other people that might take losing their job, losing their family, their wife divorcing them, or husband divorcing them, kids saying that they don't want to want to be around divorced parents because one of them drinks too much.

So, there's a number of things that usually gets people's attention.

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