What to Say to a Loved One When They Are In Denial: Here’s What to Say

There is nothing worse than watching someone you love suffer. It is especially hurtful when your loved one is in denial about their suffering, and how it’s affecting their lives and the lives of those around them. A sad reality is that the individual suffering from alcohol addiction is often the last person to see the signs, and this denial can be something that causes many issues along the way. Sometimes, it takes loved ones expressing enough concern to finally make the decision to get help. If your loved one is in denial about their alcohol addiction, here are some tips for what to say, what to do, and how to help them get help.

Educate Yourself

The most important thing you can do before talking to your loved one is to educate yourself on addiction. How are you able to help your loved one if you don’t understand what you are helping them from?

Understanding how alcohol affects the brain, body, and behaviors are essential. Not only will it help you understand your loved one more, but it will also help you understand what to expect when you talk to your loved one and how to anticipate certain situations.

How to Approach the Conversation

It’s not always what you say to a loved one when they are in denial — it is how you say it. That means it’s important that you approach the conversation the right way. Tips to keep in mind include:

  • Set a day and time to talk. Organize a scheduled time with your loved one to come by and chat. This way, they can expect to have a one-on-one conversation with you, rather than being sprung into a situation they weren’t anticipating.
  • Do it while they’re sober. If your loved one has been drinking and you bring up this topic, there is a good chance the conversation will turn volatile. In addition, there is a possibility that they might not remember the conversation at all. By speaking to them when they are sober, they will likely be able to react more calmly.
  • Write a letter. If you live far from your loved one or are worried that the conversation might turn into an argument, write a letter. This way, you will be able to get all your thoughts out, uninterrupted, and your loved one will have time to process a response.

Tips to Keep In Mind

  • Come from a place of love. First and foremost, it is essential that you come off as loving and supportive rather than confrontational. This can be difficult, especially if your loved one has caused negative consequences in your life due to their drinking. This means using sentences like, “I am truly worried about your health and the downward spiral you are in” rather than “You need to put down the bottle and get your act together” can make all the difference.
  • Bring up specific examples. Use clear examples, such as “You didn’t come to my graduation or call me on my birthday due to your drinking, and that really hurt me,” rather than generalizations such as, “You’re never around”. Specific examples with emotions attached will be hard for them to argue; a generalization will make them feel more attacked.
  • Be encouraging. Make sure your loved one knows they are not alone. Phrases like, “It can be difficult to cut back or quit alone. But, I am here for you to provide you as much help as possible. I want to see you get your life back and be the person we all love so much again.”

How to Help Them

The hope is that your loved one is receptive to your conversation and will consider getting help. If you are able to get to this stage with your loved one, it is important that you come prepared. Keeping that momentum going at that exact moment is crucial; you don’t want to give them too much time to change their mind, and by constantly checking in, they might get annoyed and abandon their efforts.

Do Research and Present Options

Before you talk to your loved one when they are in denial, have some treatment options ready. Gather information about a treatment center that you can be ready to show them. Our admissions specialists are available 24 hours a day to have a confidential conversation with you about cost, logistics, insurance coverage, treatment programs and more. The more legwork you do, the harder it will be for your loved one to say no.

Get Professional Help with an Interventionist

When you are looking for what to say to a loved one when they arein denial, it doesn’t always go the way we planned. The conversation can turn volatile and be met with extreme resistance. In this case, it might be time to get professional help with an interventionist.

About Cliffside Malibu

When your loved one is in denial about their alcohol addiction, it can be one of the most heartbreaking things to watch. The most important thing you can do is talk to your loved one, set boundaries, express your love and concern, and hope for the best. Addiction recovery is a bumpy road, but it’s one that leads to the most rewarding places.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every client. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com