How to Talk to a Drinker

One of the things I find myself doing in 1 to 1 sessions is providing coaching family members on how to talk to their drinker.  Many people who come to me feel that they have tried everything and nothing has been successful.  So they come looking for that perfect thing to say that will make all the difference.

What I can, and do, say is that there is no formula, no form of words that works for everyone.  However, if you want your drinker to listen, then there are plenty of ways to talk to your drinker that will definitely not work.  If we can eliminate those approaches then we can find an approach that has a very good chance of getting a hearing.

If you would like to view the other videos in this series you can find them by clicking the links below.

I to 1 with John Introduction

Desperate to Talk to Someone

Am I making a Fuss

My Partner Thinks that I’m an Alcoholic

I Need to Cut Down my Drinking

If you would like to book a 1 to 1 session with John then click on this link to see John’s availability.

5 Replies to “How to Talk to a Drinker”

  1. The video -How to Talk to a Drinker- is just what I needed to prepare me for addressing the elephant in the room. The struggle I’m having is related to, not anger, but fear. Once those words come out there’s no going back. I’ll use a spoonful of sugar but am still afraid that the response will be his anger and then shunning. He can shun for weeks…
    Timing is also tricky. Do I risk ruining our kids trip home? Our daughter’s graduation?
    I just realized the answer is yes. We can’t go on like we are. It’s not a nice environment for our grown kids to come home to.
    Since I’ve never said a word about his drinking, could I say, “ This is coming from a place of love and concern and I have a favor to ask. Could you please stop drinking?”

  2. I have two alcoholics in my life…my adult sons. The other day, I changed my approach to one of them and spoke in a way you are describing in your video. I don’t know if he really got what I was saying but he did leave the conversation much differently than prior conversations that involved expressing anger or whatever. I know I lfet with a smile instead of anger
    With my other son, I noticed, about 4 years ago his drinking was increasing. I know not to even go to him about it, but I wondered if a friend could talk to him. I approached the friend, but the friend said he didn’t know how to talk about that sort of thing. I asked a local child advocacy group for help, as I was advocating for my grandchildren, and was referred to an addiction group. I was told interventions were not recommended. Four years later the drinking has disrupted my son’s life and an intervention was done by my son’s closet friends in the fire department. (my son was fire chief). My son refused to acknowledged his drinking or get help and he was voted out of fire chief which was a life long dream. You’d think he hit bottom. He still is drinking, but I am not sure how much nor do I really care.
    I wonder, if the friend who I talked with 4 years ago would have talked to my son, if things might have turned out differently..maybe develop a relationship. The 4 years that happened has involved a lot of pain, especially for the kids and for myself.
    I share this because your talk got me to thinking about the differences of dealing with an alcoholic. I was sort of dismissed 4 years ago when I approached this friend, but I also have experienced years of recovery work as I am a ACOA. I also have experienced a tough love approach for an issue of mine which turned me away in shame.
    Your videos are very relevant but got me to thinking and able to realize I was not wrong in asking the questions I asked four years ago. I also have learned that in 4 years, a lot can change in advances in treatment. I appreciate the validation your video gave me. I wasn’t of the wall. Who knows if my approach would have worked. I just know that with the intervention, my son is dealing with so much shame and feeling very much alone.

  3. There is only one way. Not talking about it. Took me awhile to realize nobody is going to change the mind of an addict.

  4. Hard to talk to someone who cannot or will not accept responsibility for his actions. I’m always the bad guy because I refuse to go anywhere with him. I have been thru too many ruined holidays and been embarrassed by him in public. He keeps asking for another chance and promises he will not do it again. I’m done. I won’t subject myself to yet another situation where I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. This has been years now since I’ve been on a trip with him. He goes over the edge, ends up calling me foul names…it’s awful. He has 2 adult kids he can travel with if he can get them to take him. I’ve told them both I’m done going anywhere with him too.

  5. It has been 4 years of our relationship, out of 5 that drinking have affect my relationship. The first year I did not live with her so I did not notice the drinking, as she does not drink every day and I did not recognise the patterns at that time.

    I have done a few talks with my partner and try to follow the advise to control my anger, and talk from the heart, firmly but without anger. It is true that give more results. However I have found that they are short term results. She make an effort and things start looking good for our relationship, but then all start again after a few days or weeks (if I am lucky).

    Just the last year and a half when I start looking for different approach and I joined this program, I started been more aware of what works and what does not work. And it has help, things are much manageable than they were at the beginning.

    However I feel that now she is in a position where she is get used to this “kind” of relationship. where she gets to keep drinking and keep been with me, she just need to put up with me being upset time to time, or detached, or put up with friendly talks time to time about the same, or the rarely time where I lash out because I have enough (which are less and less dramatic than before). It does feel that she just settled to this “half way relationship”. But I am not settled, I do not want this, so how long more I have to keep doing it ? I feel that at this point I am just prolonging the situation and that I have to take the risk of breaking up the relationship and hope for the best.

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