Ever asked a family member that most assuredly does have a drinking problem if they are thinking the same? Well unless they are at the rock bottom step of a devastating spiral then be prepared for dogged denial, obfuscation, and feigned indignity. Be warned, those nursing an addiction can be wickedly convincing about this subject having already mastered the talent of lying first to their self. They will define the issue using a grey dictionary from the vague area of the bookshelf so that you leave the conversation with all the answers to none of the problems.
Even if offered a straight answer, what really has one gained by making the alcoholic plead guilty to the charge? My suggestion to family members who want to make actual progress is to try a different question (see the flip side of this issue here). Ask about the repercussions of the family member’s drinking instead. Ask where has the money gone? How much time did you spend with your children? Why did you not come home last night? The answers to these questions are black and white, not subject to the alcoholic’s rationalization and an instant veto of the I’m not hurting anyone but myself campaign.
This helps in two ways. One, it lets the alcoholic know that even if they refuse to realize they have a problem drinking- there is no doubt there are still problems galore. Two, the family can’t help the problem drinker until they are ready to help them self… but by identifying the problems caused by this drinking they can move forward* implementing their own plans of how to recover.
*serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can