10 Ways to Convince Someone to Go to Rehab

wife wanting alcoholic husband to start rehab

The 2017 U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found almost 21 million people ages 12 and over had a substance use disorder (SUD) involving drugs, alcohol, or both in the surveyed year. About 8.5 million of those individuals suffered from a co-occurring disorder, also called dual diagnosis, meaning they had both a SUD and a mental disorder.

It is challenging to overcome a SUD without professional help. Yet, only about 4 million of those surveyed were receiving needed treatment.

How to encourage your loved one to seek treatment

  1. Consult with your physician or addiction specialist

Start by meeting with your physician or addiction specialist for guidance on how to approach your loved one. They can provide educational resources, treatment options, and tips on how best to talk to your loved one.

The more knowledge and understanding you have about your loved one’s addiction, the more likely you will have a productive conversation

  1. Have an honest conversation with your loved one

Plan a time to talk openly with your loved one, when they are sober, no one is rushed, and you have privacy. Decide your goal and intention ahead of time. Be calm, nonjudgmental, and non-confrontational. Don’t use the word “addict.”

Without being accusatory, explain how you feel when they exhibit certain addictive behaviors. Give specific examples of how their actions have harmed themselves or others. Ask them to agree to seek treatment. If they are resistant, ask them to attend a support group meeting or meet with someone you have identified as a useful resource. If they continue to resist, at least you have opened the door to communication. Try again at another time.

  1. Conduct an intervention

An intervention is a preplanned meeting where concerned family, friends, and often a clergy member, professional interventionist, or addiction treatment specialist, talk to an addicted person about their substance use. The goal is to convince the individual to agree to treatment.

As with a one on one conversation, plan a private time and place to meet when the addicted person is sober, and no one is rushed. Decide beforehand what each person will say, identify specific examples of how the addictive behavior has caused harm, and have a specific treatment plan in place.

Request your loved one to agree to the treatment plan, expressing your support and belief that they can be successful. Again, if they resist, at least you have started the conversation.

  1. Provide information about treatment options

It’s vital to provide specific treatment options to your addicted loved one. You may have already done so if you conducted an intervention. Talk to addiction professionals about the range of treatment options available, including inpatient vs. outpatient rehab, and identify the best one for your loved one’s situation, considering financial and insurance issues.

  1. Encourage counseling and attendance at AA, NA, or another support group

Even if your loved one is not ready to enter a treatment facility, attendance at a support group, and individual or group counseling is an excellent place to start.

Although the current Covid-19 crisis has temporarily halted many in-person support group meetings, there are many virtual options. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers an extensive listing of on-line resources.

  1. Attend family support groups and counseling

Groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon offer valuable support and guidance, including special programs for teens, to assist families of those with a SUD. During Covid-19, refer to the on-line resources noted above.

  1. Allay their fears about detoxification

If your loved one is resisting treatment, it may be due in part to the fear of the detoxification process. Reassure them that an addiction treatment facility will ensure they receive medically supervised detoxification, which may include prescribed medications to manage any uncomfortable side effects.

  1. Set boundaries and hold to them

During your one on one conversation or intervention, without threatening, make it clear what you will or will not do to with regard to future addictive behavior.

  1. Refuse to enable

Hand in hand with boundaries, insist your loved one take responsibility for their own actions. For example, refuse to call in sick to work or school for them, or otherwise cover for addictive behavior. You can be supportive, without making excuses for your loved one.

  1. Involuntary commitment

If your loved one refuses to seek treatment, and you are concerned they may harm themselves or others, you may need to consider involuntary commitment. Most states provide for this option. If you live in Florida, refer to the Marchman Act for more details.

Addiction is a treatable, chronic disease, which can be fatal without treatment. If you believe a loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol, do not let the fear of “meddling” prevent you from having an honest conversation with that person. Your actions may save their life.


Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.

Staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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