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How to motivate your dear ones to quit, without hurting their feelings

Your dear one will get hurt only if you criticize them; not if you express your love and concern for them.

Understand that he/she is the victim and not the culprit

The reason why an alcohol/ tobacco user resists listening to you and gets angry over your requests to quit is that he/ she feels criticized. So make sure that there is respect, love, warmth, and understanding in your tone when you make the request. If the hearts get connected 1st, then nothing which you say afterward will be misunderstood! If you express the understanding that you know he is a good person; that the problem is with alcohol consumption and not with him, that you understand that he also wants to quit but is unable to do so – then he will listen to you.

You may say something like, “I love you a lot and wish for you the very best that life has to offer. I am feeling very concerned for you because I have seen a lot of people get harmed by drinking alcohol. I think you are a very wonderful person. But this alcohol is very bad. A doctor told me that if a person is taking alcohol or tobacco daily, then there is a high likelihood of the family losing him 10 years earlier than expected. I became very sad when I heard that. I don’t want to lose you early….. Please try to quit it for me.”

Aim to give hope – it is possible to quit alcohol

A reason why a person doesn’t want to try quitting is that he/ she has already tried it a dozen times and has failed. He/ she doesn’t want to fail again. So it's important to:

  1. Raise his confidence – Keep reminding him of his past achievements and express your faith in his abilities to achieve whatever he decides to, including quitting alcohol or tobacco.

  2. Assert that it is possible – Though very difficult, every day thousands do quit and there is no reason why he should not be able to.

  3. Let him know that the withdrawal symptoms last just 3 days to a week, but the benefits of quitting will stay with him forever.

  4. Let him know help is available – Let him know that professional help is available, which makes quitting easier. Some medicines decrease the withdrawal symptoms. Discuss with him few techniques to manage the cravings. Tell him that talking to a counselor helps many people to overcome the craving and to deal better with the stressors of life. He/ she may also take help from Alcoholic Anonymous.

He will be more willing to try to quit when he feels that he can do it and he knows that help is available. To know about where you can find help to quit near you, check out ‘Help to Quit’ in the resources section.

It’s a difficult journey and he/she needs a lot of encouragement

No one learns to drive a cycle without falling few times. Similarly, most people who eventually are successful at quitting, do have a few failed attempts at quitting initially. During such times your taunts will do more harm than good. You need to draw their attention to the progress made, encourage them to learn from the experience, and reassure them that so far as they keep trying and not repeat the same mistakes, they are bound to succeed today or tomorrow. Keep encouraging him to take professional help, especially if unable to quit by himself/herself.

Continue positive interactions related to other aspects of life

Intermittently keep repeating the request till he/she quits, but not daily. Let other topics of discussion and other joint activities also continue – so that the warmth in your relationship is maintained! So far as you treat him with respect & understanding, even if he doesn’t quit, he will not distance himself from you because of your requests. He will value you more because he would know that you truly care for him/her.


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