Should I confront my recovering alcoholic son?

by Janice Greatting
(Ellis grove, il)

I think my son, who is a recovering alcoholic, has brought in a bottle of alcohol, do I confront him. What if I am wrong?


There is nothing wrong with confronting an alcoholic. In fact, it’s very important to hold him accountable. If he really wants to maintain his sobriety, he will welcome your efforts. Recovering alcoholics need a strong support system who will keep them on the straight and narrow when they’re tempted to fall off the wagon and who will get them back on the wagon when they do fall.

Your approach during the confrontation is the most important aspect. Do not approach him in an angry, disappointed, or accusatory manner. Approach him with love, concern, and support. You are an advocate for him. You are an ally. You are both on the same team.

Tell him that you have something to talk to him about and you hope he won’t be angry with you. Tell him that your reasons for asking are simply out of love and concern. Explain to him why you suspect he brought in a bottle of alcohol. Let him know that, although you don’t want him to drink, you understand that recovering from addiction is hard and relapses are common. The important thing is that he rights the wrong and regains sobriety. This relapse is not failure. It is part of the journey, a very common part of the journey. The goal is for him to feel you are a safe place in which to admit his mistake. He should feel that you will help him back up and love him despite the slip-up.

If he has been drinking, make sure he gets back on his program including AA meetings. He needs to admit to the group that he has relapsed. They too can hold him accountable and give him support because they’ve done it too.

What if you are wrong? Well, better safe than sorry. If you are wrong, hopefully he will appreciate your concern and know that you are looking out for his best interests. Again, if your approach is right, being wrong shouldn’t be an issue. If he gets very defensive and denies it and tries to make you feel bad, he may be lying. This is a common tactic of alcoholics and addicts.

You are doing the right thing by supporting his sobriety through confrontation and accountability. The wrong thing would be to keep quiet. That could be enabling. This journey is his to own but he can’t do it alone. You can’t control his actions but you can influence them.

To learn more about enabling an alcoholic or for self help resources, follow the links.

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