Gateway: How to Have an Open Conversation About Alcohol & Drug Addiction

The Time to Talk is Now
With the holidays fast approaching, many people are heading home to spend time with family and loved ones. Unfortunately for some people, the chance to enjoy the holiday season may never come.

The night before Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, if not the biggest, and it’s often referred to as “Drinksgiving” or “Blackout Wednesday.” The nicknames behind the night reveal a scary truth – the night before Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest nights of the year.

According to statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 2,960 crashes in 2016 over Thanksgiving weekend. This is a sharp increase from the 1,940 crashes that occurred around Christmas. The night before Thanksgiving is the biggest bar night of the year and many people engage in binge drinking before getting behind the wheel. Even if an individual does not drink and drive that night, drinking heavily can still lead to many consequences. This makes it all the more critical to have an open conversation about alcohol and drug use. If you suspect someone is struggling with a substance use disorder, now is the time to talk to them.

Tips on how to have an open conversation without turning it into a confrontation:
  • Begin the conversation in an open, caring and supportive frame of mind. Open, compassionate discussions with individuals with substance use disorders always lead to better outcomes.
  • Be sure that they understand you are coming from a place of support and not judgment.
  • Plan what you are going to say. Since this can be an emotionally charged conversation it can be helpful to script out what you’d like to say and go over it beforehand.
  • Listen and respect what they have to say, too. It may help the individual face up to the problem. Even if your first attempt to address the problem is not successful, it does not mean they did not listen to your concerns.
  • Make sure you have a plan ready. If the person is ready to get treatment, it is a good idea to have a specific program and treatment center in mind.
​Helping a person struggling with a substance use disorder is difficult, but Gateway Foundation is always available to help. Our skilled staff specialize in substance use treatment for men, women, adolescents and patients with co-occurring substance use disorders
Since 1968 our goal has been straightforward: help clients get their life back on track and achieve a life of sobriety, free from drug use and symptoms of mental illness. A life that is productive, socially responsible, and healthy. Gateway Foundation is the largest nonprofit treatment provider in the U.S. specializing in substance use disorders for men, women, adolescents and clients diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders. Gateway's professional clinicians support over 6000 people a day to successfully complete treatment by developing a personalized plan to treat the underlying causes of substance use disorder —not just their addiction to drugs or alcohol.


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