Supporting a Loved One’s Journey to Rehab: A Comprehensive Guide for Families and Friends

When a loved one is battling a substance use disorder, it can put you in a very difficult position. You desperately want to help them but you don’t want to overstep your boundaries or destroy your relationship. As you watch their life spiral out of control, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Often, people in the grips of substance abuse are in denial and do not think they need help. So, how do you convince someone to go to rehab? Please continue reading for some tips on getting a loved one the addiction treatment they need.

How to Convince Your Loved One to Go to Rehab

Learn About Drug Abuse and Addiction

It can be challenging to convince someone to go to rehab if you yourself don’t know much about addiction. By learning about what causes addiction and the dangers it poses, you will be in a better position to convince a loved one to attend rehab.

For example, when you know the signs of drug abuse, you can build a stronger case to convince your loved one (who may be in denial) that they need professional addiction treatment. Reading about the dangers of alcohol or drug abuse can equip you to educate your loved one about why they need to go to rehab sooner rather than later.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has lots of useful resources about the risk factors for drug abuse and addiction, the health effects of different substances, dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental health conditions, and addiction treatment options.

Explore Rehab Options

There are various ways to attend alcohol and drug rehab, including inpatient care, outpatient treatment, aftercare, and support groups. At drug rehab centers, healthcare providers offer various treatment options, such as medically supervised detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapies, and alternative treatments.

Many people are fearful of going to rehab because they don’t know what to expect. For example, some people feel withdrawal symptoms will be unbearable. Researching addiction treatment options will help your loved one overcome their fears and dispel uncertainties regarding treatment.

The type of treatment your loved one will need will depend on the substance(s) they are using and the length and severity of their addiction. Do some research on available treatment programs in your area. This will help you and your loved one make informed decisions about the type of care they can access.

Consult a Healthcare Professional

All the information you learn about a substance use disorder can leave you feeling confused, overwhelmed, and even frightened. Talking to a healthcare professional, preferably a mental health professional or specialist in addiction medicine, can help you process all the information.

For example, a healthcare provider can give you a clearer understanding of what you need to do. They can also give you tips on how to convince your loved one to go to rehab. This will help you gain confidence in talking to a loved one about going to rehab.

Have an Honest Conversation with Your Loved One

Once you are armed with all the necessary information, it’s time to have an honest conversation with your loved one. Be mentally prepared for the person to be defensive, angry, combative, unpredictable, and unreceptive to your suggestions. They may say you are overreacting or being intrusive. The following tips will help you have a healthy, productive conversation with your loved one and convince them to go to rehab:

Don’t Criticize

It’s natural to feel angry and frustrated with a loved one who is abusing drugs or alcohol. But you need to set your own feelings aside for a moment and think from the point of view of that person. Pointing fingers or raising your voice won’t help the situation. Deep inside, your loved one probably knows they have a problem. They just don’t want to admit it to themselves and others.

You should be empathetic and compassionate and try to see things from their perspective. This will build trust and understanding. It will encourage your loved one to share their fears and be more receptive to seeking addiction treatment.

Use “I” Statements

When you’re having a conversation with a loved one to convince them to go to rehab, using “I” statements rather than “you” statements helps. For example, saying “I am worried about you” is better than saying “You have got me worried.” This way you’re not blaming them or making it their fault.

Remember, a loved one with a substance use disorder is already suffering from feelings of fear, guilt, and shame. Pointing fingers at them may cause them to shut you out altogether. Using “I” statements, on the other hand, can help to keep the conversation open and ultimately convince them to seek help.

Be Firm and Set Boundaries

If you live under the same roof as a loved one struggling with addiction, it’s important to be firm, but fair. Set some ground rules about what you will not allow in your home. Make it clear that you will not enable their addiction by making excuses for them or covering for their lapses.

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This may mean you need to remove access to money or take away car keys. These efforts will meet with resistance, no doubt, but you need to stand your ground. These steps are essential to tell your loved one you mean business. They will set the foundation for seeking professional addiction treatment at a drug rehab center.

Practice Self-Care

Addiction is a complex condition that affects not only the person in the grips of substance abuse but also their loved ones. That’s why it’s important to ensure you and other family members aren’t in danger. It may mean monitoring your loved one around the clock or enforcing some restrictions on activities.

Physically separating yourself from a person using drugs or alcohol may be necessary to ensure safety. This may require you to move out of the family home for a while until you can convince your loved one to go to rehab. It will give you time to regroup and gain clarity of mind, which is vital if you are going to help them.

Make sure they know you are coming from a place of love, but also that there are consequences if they continue substance abuse. These measures may even help the person become motivated to quit or at least start thinking about quitting.

Conduct an Intervention

A formal intervention is a carefully planned process in which family members and friends of a person needing addiction treatment work with healthcare professionals, such as licensed alcohol and drug counselors or interventionists, and sometimes even members of their faith. The goal of an intervention is to convince someone to go to rehab. By gathering and facing a person as one entity, the group helps the person accept addiction treatment.

An intervention can be especially useful if you have tried and failed to convince a loved one to go to rehab. The presence of other family members and professionals can help you navigate the entire process in a healthier way with positive results.

During an intervention, topics of discussion may include:

  • Examples of the person’s unhealthy or destructive behaviors and how they are affecting loved ones.
  • Treatment plans with clear goals, guidelines, and steps for the immediate future and long-term.
  • Repercussions (what each family member or friend will do if the person does not go to rehab).

If you think your loved one could benefit from an intervention, take the following steps

  1. Decide who should be in the intervention group (friends, family members, addiction treatment professionals, counselors, psychologists, members of your faith).
  2. Gather information from group members about how the person’s drug or alcohol abuse is affecting them. Obtain specific examples of financial, legal, or emotional issues caused by the person’s substance abuse.
  3. Set a date and location for the intervention. Rehearse the message you will use. Develop a structured plan for getting your loved one to attend rehab.
  4. Make a list of the specific outcomes from the intervention (what each member of the team will do if the person does not agree to go to rehab).
  5. Hold the intervention and try to convince your loved one to accept the treatment plan on the spot.
  6. Follow up to ensure the person does not slip and stop going to rehab.

Attend Family Support Groups and Counseling

Staying involved in your loved one’s addiction treatment is the key to successful recovery. Remember, addiction is a complex, long-lasting condition that can be incredibly isolating. Changes in life situations or daily living patterns can affect your loved one’s ability to stay in rehab. By taking part in family support groups and counseling sessions, you can show your continued support and ongoing commitment to helping your loved one stay sober and clean.

Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab?

Many states in the US allow parents or guardians to force children under the age of 18 years to attend drug and alcohol rehab against their wishes. Some states have involuntary commitment laws that allow you to force an adult (older than 18 years of age) to enter drug or alcohol rehab if they are a threat to themselves or others. You can also go to drug court and get an order forcing a person to enter a substance abuse treatment program.

In Washington State, the Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) permits civil investigation, evaluation, detention, and commitment of individuals experiencing mental health or substance use disorders if their symptoms are severe enough to require treatment on an involuntary basis.

Is It Ever Too Late to Help Someone with a Substance Use Disorder?

It’s never too late to help someone struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. Even if your loved one has severe longstanding addiction, multiple past failed attempts at quitting, or they are in complete denial about their substance abuse, all is not lost. Addiction treatment programs can give them a chance at sobriety and a healthy, productive life.

Let Us Help Your Loved One Take the First Step to Recovery

If your loved one needs addiction treatment for substance abuse or mental health conditions, Discover Recovery offers a range of treatment programs, including detox, outpatient and inpatient drug rehab, couseling, psychotherapy, and aftercare. We encourage family members to play an ongoing role in their loved one’s recovery from a substance use disorder. Call us today if you are trying to convince a loved to go to rehab. We will help you decide on the best treatment options for alcohol abuse or drug addiction and make sure they get the help they need.

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