How do I get him to admit he's an alcoholic? I hear this question often.The rationale behind it appears to be that if he just admits to being an alcoholic, he will stop drinking.
Unfortunately, getting someone to admit to being an alcoholic is difficult; ask any therapist. Even if they do admit to being an alcoholic, there is no guarantee they will change because of acknowledging the issue.
The good news is that there is no need for the drinker to confess to being an alcoholic to change the problem. Some years ago, psychologists Bill Miller and Steve Rollnick wrote a book titled Motivational Interviewing. In it, they suggest that the most powerful forcse for change are "motivational statements." For example, "drinking is causing me problems at work" or "it interferes with my home life."
These are clear statements about the specific problems that the alcohol is causing rather than a more general statement about whether or not someone has a full-fledged addiction. This is now a common approach used in alcohol treatment units throughout the world. Facebook Doesn't Ruin Relationships, People Do.
If you want your drinker to change, don't get drawn into an argument about whether the way he drinks qualifies him as an alcoholic or not. The problem is that there are many definitions of an alcoholic; few people agree on a common one. In fact, I often say that most drinkers' definition of an alcoholic is "someone else; not me."
The best way to get your drinker to change his drinking habits is to talk about the specific problems that his drinking is causing you or your family, not about if he is considered to be an alcoholic or not.
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