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How to Convince an Addict to Go to Rehab
As a parent, sibling, child, friend, or other relative of someone with a substance abuse problem, your life has likely been turned upside down. Perhaps your loved one has been fighting an addiction for months or years or maybe you just discovered the issue. Regardless of where you are in the journey, what you are going through now is one of the hardest things a family may endure – watching your loved one sink deeper and deeper into addiction.
If you are reading this now, it is likely that you have already attempted to get someone who is addicted into rehab or you are trying to figure out how to get someone into rehab. It may be a difficult process. Many times, people with a substance abuse problem refuse to go to treatment. Perhaps they are in denial of their problems or they believe they can stop drinking or using drugs at any time. They also might be afraid of treatment, how rehab may change them, or what life will look like sober.
You might be wondering: Can you make someone go to rehab? You also might be trying to figure out how to convince someone to go to rehab. The following are some ideas that may help you and your family learn how to get an addict into rehab to begin the process of recovering from drug or alcohol abuse.
According to the U.S. surgeon general, one in seven people face some type of drug or alcohol addiction in the United States. Nearly 10 percent of Americans over the age of twelve report using illicit drugs some time over the past month. Despite these figures, only 10 percent of those with a substance abuse disorder will receive treatment. These statistics are both tragic and worrisome.
There are many reasons why someone with an addiction refuses or is unable to go to treatment. Cost is certainly a factor, as over 37 percent of people with an addiction report not having health care coverage or the money to afford treatment. Access to an appropriate treatment facility or access to transportation to travel to treatment facilities are also barriers to seeking treatment. Some people are also afraid of losing their jobs if knowledge of their addiction becomes public.
Sometimes, the barriers to treatment are related to attitudes or beliefs. There is still a cultural stigma about alcohol and drug addiction that prevents some people from seeking treatment. In addition, nearly a quarter of those with a substance abuse problem admit that they are not ready to quit.
Many family members are desperate to find their loved ones help and might even wonder how to get someone into rehab against their will. They might wonder, Can you force someone into rehab? Unfortunately, this is not usually successful because rehab, treatment, and recovery depend on the person wanting to take the steps necessary to change. Forcing someone to go to rehab may backfire, leading the person to fear rehab and refuse to change his or her behaviors.
There are times where someone’s behavior is a danger to themselves or to others or when an addiction has become so severe that the person’s life is at risk. In these cases, involuntary commitment may be an option. Involuntary committment is a process that produces a court order forcing someone into rehab against his or her will.
Sometimes, a court will also order treatment as part of the sentencing procedures after a drug-related offense. In such situations, the individual may have the choice to participate in treatment through a drug court or to be incarcerated as reparations for the crime.
Can you force someone to go to rehab? Yes, and while courts sometimes may enact an order to force someone to go to rehab, the best option is to help your loved one make the choice to participate in treatment on his or her own. Rehab requires people to transform behaviors, beliefs, and lifestyles. People with a commitment and willingness to undergo treatment may be more likely to make such changes on a long-term basis. So, instead of wondering how to force someone into rehab, convincing him or her to make a decision is often a better option.
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If your loved one does not meet criteria for involuntary committment or drug courts, he or she must decide to enter a treatment program voluntarily. It may be difficult to figure out how to get an alcoholic into treatment or to how to get a drug addict into a rehab facility, in large part because addicts often are unable to see just how bad their situations really are. It is up to family members and friends to determine how to get someone in rehab.
Holding an intervention is one way to get people to see the importance of going to rehab. The goal of staging an intervention is to help addicts see just how much their addictions are impacting their lives and the lives of the people around them. An intervention may also give people with substance use disorders information on treatment.
An intervention is most successful if you approach it calmly with fact-based information. If you attempt to convince your loved one to seek treatment while you are angry and emotional, your loved one may shut down or become defensive about the situation.
It may be helpful for you to seek professional help from a drug or alcohol intervention specialist or a mental health counselor. This assistance may help you plan your intervention while helping you process your own emotions and experiences with your loved one’s addiction.
Staging an intervention may be an overwhelming and stressful time for both you and the person with an addiction. Many people find it helpful to put together a team to help support you during the intervention process and to determine how to convince an addict to get help.
Drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities often employ staff interventionists that may help you through this process and inform you how to get a loved one into rehab. You may also contact family members, friends, and other loved ones to attend the intervention and support you and the addicted family member. If you are affiliated with a religion or spiritual practice, inviting the pastor or minister may also be helpful.
Staging an intervention is one time where winging it and doing things without a plan is not likely to work. If you are at the stage of planning an intervention, then chances are, your loved one’s life is spiraling out of control and you are looking for ways to take the person who is addicted to rehab. He or she may be unable or unwilling to listen to what you have to say. A well-planned intervention will leave less room for the addict to argue or deny the seriousness of the situation.
After you put your intervention team together, you will want to schedule one or more meetings so that everyone understands their role in the intervention and so that the intervention leader knows what he or she is going to say. During this meeting, professional interventionists may help you plan for a variety of situations so that you are ready to respond to different reactions from your loved one.
During your group meeting, each person who is directly impacted by the addiction may decide to write a letter about that impact. Writing everything down may make it easier during the intervention so that you know exactly what to say. The letters should talk about how the addiction is impacting you personally, as well as the specific consequences and boundaries you will establish if the addict does not seek treatment.
At the group meeting, you will also want to establish boundaries for the intervention so that everyone attending will be safe. These boundaries should establish when someone is allowed to respond or speak and the procedures for ending the intervention, especially if the addict becomes aggressive.
Finally, your planning should include where and when the intervention will take place. You will want to surprise the addict so he or she does not try to avoid the event, but you will need to have a plan for getting him or her to the intervention.
Once you plan your intervention, it is time to put that plan into action. Typically, the members of the intervention team you have chosen will assemble in the agreed-upon location and then someone will bring your loved one to that location. Once everyone is in the same room, you may inform your loved one that you are having an intervention. Later, each person will have the opportunity to read their letters.
During the intervention, your loved one may be defensive or deny that the problem exists. Your loved one may even blame you or others for the addiction or try to make you believe that he or she is the real victim. It is important for you to avoid taking these words personally. Your loved one may be scared and there is a good chance that his or her addiction is preventing rational thought and preventing him or her from understanding the true impact of the situation.
During the intervention, emphasize to the person with a substance use disorder that you love and support him or her and want what is best. Let your loved one know that addiction is a disease that may be treated and that you will be there to support him or her throughout the process.
In addition, you should tell your loved one that while you love him or her, you will no longer overlook the addiction and its impact. Let him or her know that while the decision to seek treatment belongs to the addict, it is something that you feel is extremely important.
Unfortunately, sometimes, even the best-planned interventions fail. Perhaps the individual was simply not ready or able to accept what you said. Regardless of why the intervention failed, you now need to follow through with the boundaries and consequences you established. For example, if the addict is your partner and you said that you would take your children and stay with your parents for safety, you should begin that process.
While your loved one may not have accepted the invitation to seek treatment during the intervention, seeing well-defined consequences and how they directly relate to his or her addiction may be enough motivation to get him or her to agree to treatment. It may be the push needed to determine how to get an alcoholic to go to rehab or how to get into drug rehab.
Following through with boundaries and consequences may be heartbreaking for you, but sometimes, tough love is needed to get someone to see just how urgent the situation is and that you are no longer going to put your own needs aside to enable someone who abuses substances.
Once you have convinced a friend or family member to get help and he or she agrees to begin the process, the next step is to find an appropriate rehab facility. Since you want to act quickly once your loved one has agreed to treatment, consider bringing addresses and phone numbers for treatment facilities to the intervention.
When you make a call to a drug or alcohol addiction treatment facility, the treatment team may help you with how to check someone into rehab. Many times, the intake process into rehab happens quickly, often within hours or days of making an initial phone call.
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Once your loved one agrees to get help, it may be difficult to know what to say to someone in drug rehab. You may still be reeling from the experience and your loved one may be scared and feeling vulnerable. One of the most important things you can say to him or her right now is simply, “I love you and I am here for you.”
Let your loved one know that seeking treatment is a courageous thing to do and that you are proud of him or her for taking this step. This may be the encouragement he or she needs to keep going through this difficult process. Be sure to tell your loved one, “I believe in you,” and ask him or her how you can best be supportive during recovery.
It may be difficult convincing someone to go to rehab. Watching your loved one struggle with his or her addiction may be heartbreaking. Remaining calm and showing your friend or family member that you are there to offer support and love can be instrumental in convincing an addict to get help. When your loved one is ready, give us a call and we can help you and your family through this difficult time.
The good news is that addiction is treatable. Getting someone into rehab is the first step in helping him or her live a clean and sober life. We are here to help you on that journey.