My partner drinks a few beers every night, and I think it's becoming a problem. How do I address this with him?

Alcohol Addiction - Freedom From Addiction
Q:

My partner drinks a few beers every night, and I think it’s becoming a problem. How do I address this with him?

A:

That’s a great question. If your partner’s drinking is something that is uncomfortable for you, then it is important to speak to him about this. You are not necessarily saying he has a problem, although he might, rather that the amount he is drinking is uncomfortable for you.

It is important to schedule a time to talk with your loved one and ask permission to begin a conversation. Designate a good time with limited distractions. Be sure that the person you are addressing is not impaired, hungover, or preoccupied when you are going to begin your talk. Remember this will likely be an ongoing conversation, but starting it as soon as possible is important. Limit distractions by turning off the television and putting away electronics. Use “I statements” in communicating how your loved ones’ what you have observed and how their behavior or use has impacted you. Don’t be a parent, cop, or teacher, but instead be a friend and listen. Come from a place of caring and concern, rather than preaching. Don’t talk at them, but instead have a two-way conversation.

Here Are Some Helpful Suggestions:

  • Approach it as a problem of your own by using “I Statements” and feeling words. For example, you can say “I’m uncomfortable,” or “I’m worried”
  • Continue to use “I” statement to show your support, such as “I care about you, I love you, and I’m worried about you.” Avoid using “you” statements like “you need help” or “you have a problem.”
  • Anticipate that your loved one may retaliate with hurtful words such as tell you are the one that needs help, put you down, or say other hurtful things. This is a common response because they are on the defense and scared.

Keep in mind that this is the first conversation you are having with your partner about this and that your goal is to walk away feeling heard. You might need to have several conversations about this, decide what your boundaries are, and what you want to happen in the relationship if your partner’s drinking habits do not change.

Thank you for your question,

* All responses provided by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

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