Not knowing, not telling.

What happens if a loved one is developing an addiction problem, and no one is letting them know what is happening? Most people who go on to develop a full alcohol dependence are not aware of it as it is happening. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the road to alcohol misuse is paved with good blinkers. No one sets out to become an alcoholic, but they have a right to be informed about it if it is happening. So those closest to the “alcoholic in training” need to let them know what they are seeing, as they are seeing it. That does not mean a shouting match at 3 am, that means a careful and measured conversation after the alcohol has had a few days to get out of the system. Careful, measured but forcefully stated comments by a loved one are the most powerful methods of real commounication with a budding alcohol abuser. Not that a response or a change is guarenteed, of course, but they do deserve an opportunity to get the message. A lot of alcohol misusers can reverse a pattern of excessive drinking, by just having a simple effective warning or two at the right time. Research suggests that 20% of alcoholics can reverse track with such a kind of warning, if given early and effectively enough. In a rehabilitation setting, the most powerful force for change is a loved one’s opinion; a therapist can’t get under an alcoholic’s skin quite like a spouse or partner. And you never know when an addict is ready to change, or ready to hear a message then haven’t been able to hear previously. All a loved one can do is give that message, clearly, soberly and directly, and sometimes it pays off. It is the least the alcohol misuser deserves.

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