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Should You Tell Someone They Are An Alcoholic?


Should You Tell Someone They Are An Alcoholic?

Recently, I participated in an informative episode where we explored a critical and often challenging question: should you tell someone they’re an alcoholic? In this article, I’d like to continue the dialogue from that video segment and share some of my perspectives on this complex subject.

Understanding Alcoholism

First and foremost, defining if someone is an alcoholic isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. It’s not solely about the quantity of alcohol consumed. It is also about whether the person’s drinking is negatively impacting their life.

One way to gauge this is by observing if someone is changing their goals based on their actions or their actions based on their goals. If you notice that a person is starting to sideline their ambitions due to their alcohol consumption, this could be a sign of a problem. Remember, it’s not just about how much they drink, but how the drinking is affecting their life’s priorities.

Approaching The Conversation

When deciding to approach someone about their drinking, we need to consider the timing and the words we use. It’s not just about accusing someone of being an alcoholic but pointing out how their habits are leading them away from the things that once mattered to them.

Most people go through stages of readiness when it comes to change. These include pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Identifying which stage the person is in can help guide your conversation.

The key is to approach the conversation from a place of concern rather than accusation. Instead of labeling them as an alcoholic, point out specific instances where their drinking has negatively affected their life or your relationship.

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Setting Boundaries

As much as you might want to help, setting boundaries for your well-being is essential. If the person continues to disregard your concerns and refuses to seek help, you might need to distance yourself from them. It can be emotionally draining and potentially harmful to continue being closely involved with someone who is self-destructing.

You might also need to prepare yourself for the possibility that they won’t acknowledge they have a problem. Alcoholism is a condition that often requires self-diagnosis, meaning the individual has to come to terms with their own issues.


In summary, it is not easy to tell someone they are an alcoholic, and it’s important to approach this with sensitivity, honesty, and a focus on their behavior rather than slapping a label on them. If they are not ready to acknowledge their issue, you might need to step back for your own well-being. However, if they are willing to get help, being there to support them can be invaluable.


  1. Alcoholism is not just about the quantity of alcohol consumed but how it impacts the person’s life and goals.
  2. Timing and the choice of words are crucial when approaching someone about their drinking.
  3. It’s essential to approach the conversation from a place of concern rather than an accusation.
  4. Setting boundaries is important for your own well-being. You should not sacrifice your mental health trying to save someone else.
  5. Alcoholism often requires self-diagnosis, so prepare yourself for the possibility that the person might not acknowledge their problem.

Remember, you’re not alone in this. There are professionals and support groups out there that can provide guidance and assistance. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.

Haven Jo Beck is a Certified Addiction Interventionist and Trauma-Informed Life and Happiness Coach with over 25 years of experience in the 12-step world, therapy, and numerous other approaches to recovery. She specializes in helping people struggling with disordered eating, obesity, food addiction, body image dysmorphia, and drug addiction. Haven's workshops and services are focused on food addiction and trauma, offering a compassionate and trauma-sensitive approach to healing childhood trauma while dealing with food, eating, drug, and body acceptance issues. Her tailor-made approach to coaching, supported by academic literature and personal experience, has helped thousands of people worldwide to create and maintain successful eating and recovery programs. Haven lives with her family near the beach, where she homeschools her children and enjoys an abstinent, healthy lifestyle.

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