When Your Loved One Won’t Go to Rehab

When your loved one is in denial about an alcohol or drug addiction, convincing them to go to rehab is no easy task. If you have begged and cajoled, but your loved one still refuses to go to rehab, there are several strategies you can try that have proven effective in breaking through an addicted individual’s resistance.

Stop Enabling the Addiction

Often family members or friends will enable a loved one’s addiction without even realizing they are doing it. Here are just a few behaviors that may be enabling your loved one’s addiction:

  • Giving them money or paying their bills
  • Taking over their household chores
  • Covering for them when they miss work or a social event
  • Inviting them to activities or social events where drinking or drug use occurs
  • Tolerating their bad behavior, including verbal or physical abuse
  • Sacrificing your own needs for the needs of the addict

While you want to be supportive, you should ask yourself: Are my actions making it easier for my loved one to use drugs or alcohol? Is what I’m doing making the situation worse? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” put an end to your enabling behavior by letting your loved one know that you’ll no longer be an accomplice to their addiction.

Follow Through on Consequences

While sharing your love and support is important, it’s also important to let your loved one know that negative behaviors have consequences. If your loved one is in debt because of spending money on drugs, for instance, make clear that you will not be their financial crutch. Let them know that you have no recourse but to shut off the funds until they agree to enter a program to address their addiction.

Depending on the level of the problem, you may have to impose more serious consequences. For instance, if an ex-spouse’s drinking and driving is endangering your children, you may have no choice but to take the drastic step of curtailing visitation rights. If an adult child is taking drugs while living in your home, it may be time to deliver an ultimatum—either go into rehab, or you’ll have to move out. If you have coupled this ultimatum with a deadline, stay firm. If you extend the deadline once, twice, then a third time, your loved one will be able to call your bluff and perhaps rightfully conclude that you’ll never follow through.

Control Your Emotions

Though your loved one’s addiction may be causing upheaval and turmoil in your family, do your best to talk to them calmly and rationally. Avoid shouting and name-calling. Don’t try to make them feel guilty. Instead, let them know you love and care about them. If they are scared or apprehensive about the prospect of going to rehab, let them know you’ll be there to support them through every step of their recovery journey.

Stage an Intervention

The term “intervention” has almost become trivialized through overuse, but the process has real value if an addict is refusing help. Hearing family and friends recount in emotional detail the devastating impact of the addict’s behavior often is a wake-up call. When the addict realizes how much other people are suffering from their addiction, it may be enough to convince them that they need to go to rehab.

If you don’t feel comfortable staging the intervention yourself, consider reaching out to a third party. There are social social workers or professional interventionists who have the experience to handle the process effectively but compassionately.

Seek Out Support

Even if a loved one refuses treatment, don’t neglect your own self-care or that of your family. There are support groups that focus on family members whose loved ones are addicts, including groups specifically for teens or children. Being able to talk with others who are going through similar circumstances provides immense therapeutic value in assuring you that “you are not alone.”

Another option to consider is individual therapy. With the help of a qualified therapist, you may gain a better understanding of what is causing your loved one’s addiction and also learn more about helping an addict who refuses treatment.

Perhaps your participation in a support group or individual therapy will send a message to your loved one—that there is no shame in seeking help. When you’re able to show a tangible benefit from your own therapy, it may help your loved one realize that entering rehab is their best course of action.

Turn to Beachside Rehab to help your loved one overcome their addiction and put them on a path toward recovery. Contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 to discuss how we can create a personalized treatment program tailored to your needs.


Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash