Before the discussion:
- Don’t think of the talk as a confrontation.
It is a talk with someone you are concerned about, giving honest feedback
- Have realistic expectations
Many times it will be a difficult interaction without immediate payoff. You may never be able to tell if you had an impact. You may also face anger and hostility from your patient.
- Conduct some research about appropriate treatment referrals, if needed.
- Have written patient education materials ready.
- Practice the intervention prior to your use in the clinical setting.
During the discussion
- Don’t have the discussion with someone who has been drinking or hung-over. You are wasting your time
- Carry the message of hope,
No matter how negative, “yes but”, or belligerent the person, let her know that alternatives exist to drinking for her.
- You are not diagnosing alcoholism – that is for the substance abuse professional. Instead, you are discussing your concerns, offering information, and, when necessary, making appropriate referrals.
- Discuss drinking behavior in the 3rd person. “A lot of women find they fall into risky situations when they drink at this level.”
- Be non-judgmental and show concern
- Establish that drinking may be the source (not the solution) to many of the woman’s problems.
- Talk about treatment options
- Leave her written materials.
Adapted from the Institute for Health and Recovery (IHR) tip sheet
IHR. 349 Broadway. Cambridge, MA 02139. Tel: 617-661-3991 www.healthrecovery.org