Tips on What to Say to an Alcoholic in Denial

If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to alcohol, you are not alone. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that over seventeen million American adults have alcohol use disorders. Another nine-hundred thousand Americans between the ages of twelve and seventeen have alcohol use disorders. 


What Are the Signs of Alcoholism? 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition) provides a list of eleven criteria to help mental health and medical professionals accurately diagnose the presence and severity of alcohol addiction (alcohol use disorder). When you seek help to overcome an alcohol addiction, your addiction treatment team will use the criteria to determine the appropriate level of treatment for your needs and goals. It is not necessary to present all eleven criteria to have an alcohol addiction; however, the more symptoms you experience, the more severe your addiction is. 


Because addiction is a disease unique to the individual, the signs of addiction may be different from person to person; however, there are common symptoms often seen across most cases. These include a variety of physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms such as:


  • Increasing isolation and distancing from friends and family.
  • Continuing to drink regardless of known physical harm or challenges with family and personal relationships.
  • Changes in appearance or lack of concern about hygiene
  • Cognitive changes such as blackouts or difficulties with short-term memory.
  • Sudden changes in mood or frequent mood swings.
  • Drinking alone or making excuses for drinking.
  • Intense and overwhelming urges to drink or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you reduce or stop drinking. 
  • Choosing alcohol over essential responsibilities and obligations.


Tips on What to Say to an Alcoholic in Denial

It can be painful to watch a loved one struggle with alcohol addiction. The pain is often magnified when that person is in denial about how their addiction is affecting their lives and the lives of those around them. If you are ready to approach your loved one about their drinking to encourage them to seek help, it is important to consider not only what you say but how you say it. 


First, be supportive rather than confrontational. Use sentences that ensure they know you are worried and concerned about their health and well-being. Try to avoid accusations or hostile statements. Also, use examples that may help gently reflect how their drinking impacts their relationships with their loved ones. Finally, be patient and encouraging. Offer support and ensure your loved one knows you are there when they are ready to talk or if they need help beginning their sobriety journey. 

Remember, the first conversation may not accomplish all you hope it will. Your loved one may react with anger, continued denial, or avoid talking about alcohol entirely. The person struggling with alcohol addiction is often the last person to see the damage done by alcohol. 


How to Get an Alcoholic Help With Their Addiction

Watching a loved one struggle with alcohol is difficult for those who love them. If you want to get help for your loved one but are not sure where to start, contact the team at Rise in Malibu. Our admissions team can provide information on intervention services, addiction treatment program options, and detoxification services offered at our luxury Malibu California rehab. 


The road to recovery from addiction is not a straight line. There will be bumps and setbacks along the way. With the help and support of their family and the team at Rise in Malibu, your loved one can overcome alcohol addiction and begin a life free from the damaging toll of alcoholism. To learn more about how we can help, contact Rise in Malibu today. 


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