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How to Answer Your Loved Ones Questions About Your Alcohol Addiction

mother confronts teenage daughter while talking to her about alcohol addiction

Updated on

It can be hard for someone to understand your situation when they have never experienced what you have gone or are going through.  With that being said, explaining addiction to someone is a wildly complicated task. When family members confront you about your alcohol addiction it can be difficult to find the right words to say and it is hard to prepare yourself for this part of your journey. This article is going to guide you in answering those tough questions asked by your loved ones. It is hard to avoid talking about your addiction because it is often the best way to repair relationships that have been hindered. Talking about your addiction is a good thing, it helps break the stigma around addiction, promotes open communication and the development of trust. If you have not yet gotten questioned about why you let alcohol control your life or how you let this happen, you will, and it is important you know how to respond.

Why did you choose alcohol over me

Every person on Earth could be well aware that addiction is a disease and someone would still feel obligated to say that the addict chose to start drinking which caused this result. This topic can be convoluted for many as it is something most people do not have vast knowledge on but is also important to encourage education on addiction in hopes of breaking the stigma. Addiction is a sensitive topic for both addicts and those affected by the addict. When people you love and care about start to question your relationship with them compared to your addiction, it really hurts. So, how do we answer these difficult questions? When you child wonders if you love vodka more than them or when your husband doesn’t understand why you are so distant from him but so close to the wine, these concerns all arise out of the same emotions. When your family is feeling hurt, resentful, angry and confused regarding your addiction, you often will feel guilty, defensive, or frustrated. Recovering alcoholics know the facts about addiction and know the most about their own addiction yet often come up short when trying to explain their actions.

How to answer these questions

When you respond to questions regarding your addiction it is important to remember that your addiction has affected more people than just yourself. You must make your loved one’s emotions and concerns feel heard and valid. A great way to do this is to address that you understand that your disease is hurting them while also explaining that your addiction is not your choice. We have come up with three responses to the hard-hitting questions your family asks that will get your point across without being defensive or insensitive:

  1. I do not choose to be an addict, it is like any disease that needs support and treatment. Although it may seem that my drinking is more important to me than our relationship, it is not. I would never choose alcohol over you and I would love your support during this time.
  2. I would never choose to be addicted to alcohol and I would never choose alcohol over you. I am an alcoholic because of how my brain has been wired. Yes, I chose to drink but I did not know it would lead to the inability to stop drinking. This disease has impacted my entire life and the only way I can control it is to abstain from alcohol.
  3. Addiction is a chronic disease, like cancer or diabetes. This disease has disturbed the functions of my brain and how it responds to stress, reward and self-control. Like other chronic diseases, I need treatment and support because this requires long term management. I would never choose alcohol over you, especially because I know how much it has impacted you.

Hopefully one of these responses can help make a difficult conversation a little easier because the people in our lives that love and care about us deserve a proper response to their concerns. Having these discussions will create more knowledge and awareness around addiction, therefore, reducing the stigma. Most importantly, being able to respond to the questions about choosing family over alcohol will allow you and your family to be on the same page regarding your addiction. When your family tries to understand where you are coming from and you do the same, it can help sustain your relationship throughout your addiction journey.

  • Marilyn Spiller
    Marilyn Spiller

    Executive Director of Marketing

    Author, Marilyn Spiller is a writer, speaker, sober coach and recovery advocate with a 20-year history of international hobnobbing and outrageous over-drinking. Five years sober, she writes a popular blog called Waking Up the Ghost, and acts as the Executive Director of Marketing for Sanford House at John Street, Sanford House at Cherry Street, and the Sanford House Outpatient Center.

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