5 steps to help you have a tough conversation with an alcoholic

An alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, can affect people’s lives in various ways. In extreme circumstances, having an alcohol addiction can affect mental health, a career and also family life. Alcoholism is when the individual becomes alcohol dependent and it becomes the main role in their life which leads them to give up on important aspects, such as work or relationships. 

Below are 4 signs and symptoms of someone who may be an alcoholic

  1. Feel like they need a drink to get by, especially in the mornings 
  2. Base social gatherings around alcohol and struggle to arrange or be part of sober, alcohol-free situations
  3. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms and behaviours and using alcohol to feel ‘normal’
  4. Not being able to stop drinking once they start 

talk to an alcoholic

When someone is dependent on alcohol, it can cause a lot of trauma for those closest to them. Friend or family members may feel that they do not know the person like they used to, they may dislike them, they may feel helpless and uncertain with what to do. They want to step in but don’t know where to start helping someone with an alcohol addiction. In this Am J Addict report, support from friends and family significantly impacted an addict's life in a positive way. They continue to say that people who receive more general support possess higher levels of subjective well-being, which is linked to improved post-substance abuse treatment outcomes.

Below are 6 steps to help you talk to someone about their drinking

  1. Firstly, ensure that the person is sober when starting the conversation
  2. Read the situation, have a friendly approach and be relaxed  
  3. Let them know you have noticed a change in them, that your concerned about how much alcohol they’re consuming and gently ease into the conversation without judgement
  4. Tell them that you care about them and want to make sure that they’re ok and if they feel they need some help 
  5. Let them speak, don’t interrupt them. Be patient and present
  6. Let them know that you are concerned for their physical and mental well-being and you would like to help

When speaking to someone with an alcohol problem, it’s important not to be angry or judgemental. Start by helping them create healthy habits and try to steer them towards positive distractions. Everyone's journey to recovery is different and it should be treated with care and patience. 

If you feel that your friend or family member may need outside help because of their alcohol addiction, The Sydney Retreat offers a 30-day recovery programme which nurtures them and supports them every step of the way. We take pride in offering a well-known, evidence based recovery programme that not only gives our guests guidance from staff who have been in their shoes but also offers continued support after they complete the 30-day residential programme.


The Sydney Retreat is a peer led recovery approach that benefits from the lived experience of people in recovery. Not only will you be provided with the tools to stop drinking and using drugs, you will become a part of a community who help one another to get sober and stay sober. If you have a problem with alcohol and or drugs, this is a unique and affordable opportunity that will change the direction of your life. Get help today.