Watching a loved one suffer from addiction is a painful experience. You might feel helpless, frustrated, devastated and lost — especially if your loved one does not acknowledge they need help. How do you convince an addicted friend, family member or spouse to go to rehab before it’s too late?
First, take a deep breath. There is hope, no matter how challenging the situation seems. It may take time, patience and careful planning, but you can take steps to encourage your loved one to change. When you’re looking for answers, here are tips for getting someone to rehab and the reasons why it can be challenging. If you’re ready to learn about treatment options today, contact us at Tranquil Shores.
Why It’s Difficult to Convince Someone to Go to Rehab
It’s hard to understand why a loved one would refuse to get treated for addiction. Why would they continue harming themselves and those around them if they can get help? Why won’t they listen if they love you?
Being addicted to drugs or alcohol does not mean your loved one does not care about you. Addiction is not a choice. It is a disease that takes control of an individual’s thoughts and behaviors. With that in mind, here are the reasons why convincing an addict to go to rehab can be a challenge.
1. Addiction Changes the Brain
According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), addiction changes the brain, and it takes time and effort to restore it to its normal state. Drugs or alcohol take over the pleasure circuits in the brain and create the impulse to use. Addiction makes individuals feel anxious and stressed when they do not have drugs or alcohol. People may use substances to avoid bad feelings rather than seek pleasurable effects. Also, drugs and alcohol impact the decision-making part of the brain, which affects a person’s ability to consider the harmful consequences of addiction and make sound judgments.
2. They Don’t Feel Ready
The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) said 18.7 million American adults had a substance use disorder (SUD). Researchers found 92.3 percent of Americans over the age of 12 with SUD did not get treatment. What keeps addicted individuals from getting the help they need? According to the 2012 NSDUH, almost half the study respondents said they did not receive treatment because they were not ready to stop using. Other common reasons for avoiding rehab include:
- – Lack of insurance
- – Not knowing where to go for treatment
- – Fear of what others would think
- – Belief they can handle the problem without treatment
Also, your loved one might fear the experience of going through detox. For example, a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry found 75 percent of addicted individuals who did not seek treatment were afraid of withdrawal symptoms. As you can see, your loved one is battling against biological and psychological factors related to addiction.
3. Denial Is Part of Addiction
Your loved one may be in denial about the extent of their problem, which is another reason it may be hard to convince them to seek treatment. Denial is a common component of addiction. Denial is the refusal to accept reality and is a psychological defense mechanism. Individuals with SUD use denial to keep threatening emotions out of their mind. Acknowledging the pain associated with addiction is difficult. Drugs and alcohol help mask the pain of addiction and co-occurring disorders such as depression.
Denial also protects addicted individuals from having to change and face the fear associated with sober living. Lastly, an addicted person may believe they are in control of their addiction and can stop it whenever they want, or that their addiction is not harming anyone else.
All the above factors are part of the complexity of the disease. None of it means your family member does not love you, and addiction is still treatable.
Should You Get Someone to Go to Rehab Against Their Consent?
If you are reaching your wits’ end wondering how to get someone to go to rehab, you may feel like forcing them against their will is your only option. Although involuntary commitment might be effective for some individuals, it is not the right choice for everyone. It’s important to consider your loved one’s unique situation and ask a professional for advice before requesting court-ordered treatment. Here’s what you need to know.
1. How Involuntary Commitment Works
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow the involuntary commitment of individuals with SUD, alcoholism or both. However, the process is not as simple as it may seem. For example, in every state, individuals have a right to an attorney. They also have a right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus at any point after they have been committed, which can help determine if the commitment is lawful or not. If a court finds it to be unlawful, the client is free to leave the treatment program.
Individuals have other rights as well, such as the right to present witnesses and the right to appeal the judge’s decision. In most states, the petitioner must provide evidence that the individual has attempted or inflicted harm on themselves or others or is incapable of caring for oneself due to substance use.
2. Is Involuntary Commitment Effective?
Involuntary commitment may be a practical option for addicted individuals who are in danger because it forces them to undergo detox. However, several studies show involuntary commitment may not always be the best option for long-term results.
For example, a study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy states that as a whole, evidence does not suggest improved outcomes regarding mandatory treatment approaches. Another study published in 2018 concluded involuntary drug treatment is a risk factor for a non-fatal drug overdose. That may be because people who get committed against their will are not ready to stop using drugs.
Also, mandatory treatment programs are typically short-term and do not provide the time needed to recover from an addiction. According to the NIH, remaining in treatment for an adequate amount of time is a critical aspect of recovery. Typically, individuals need to spend at least three months in a treatment program for the best outcomes. However, involuntary emergency commitment may last only 24 hours to five days.
For these reasons, it’s worth considering other options first before going to court, such as planning an intervention or approaching your loved one differently. For drug or alcohol treatment to be effective, it must treat the individual as a whole and address all mental health and physical issues. No matter what, it’s ultimately up to the individual whether or not they want to gain control of their health and embark on a journey toward recovery.
When Is the Best Time to Talk to Someone About Rehab?
You’ll want to approach your loved one at the right time to discuss their addiction and treatment options. Timing can greatly influence their reaction and decision to get help. Here are tips to help you start a conversation at the right moment:
- – Talk to your loved one when they are not drinking or under the influence of drugs.
- – Wait until you are both are in a comfortable, private setting, and avoid bringing up the topic in public or in front of others.
- – Talk about rehab when there are no interruptions or distractions.
It also will help the conversation if you prepare for the talk ahead of time. Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s addiction, as this will help you communicate from a place of understanding. Research treatment options and be ready to share success stories to ignite a sense of hope.
When it’s time to talk to your loved one, start by saying you have been worrying that they have a problem, and ask them if they’re open to listening to your thoughts and feelings. If they do not want to talk about it or hear what you have to say, assure them you are there for them whenever they’re ready and let it go for the time being. However, if the person you care about agrees to hear you out, here are tips to help the conversation stay calm.
- Express your feelings: When talking to your loved one, try to take the focus off them and use “I” statements when possible. For example, you might say, “I feel concerned about your drinking habit,” rather than saying, “You’re ruining your life.” By using “I” statements, you can help prevent your loved one from getting defensive.
- Stick with facts: Try to give specific examples of your loved one’s drug or alcohol use, such as certain behaviors that concern you. Your loved one won’t be able to argue with facts.
- Avoid preaching: It’s understandable if you feel the urge to talk about the consequences of drug or alcohol abuse. However, you don’t want to evangelize or use guilt to convince your loved one to get treatment, as this can push them away. Instead, explain you are concerned for their health and let them know you want to help. Offer to go with them to see a doctor or counselor.
- Remain calm: No matter how your loved one reacts, try your best to maintain an even keel. Keep in mind the goal of the conversation, which is to encourage the addicted person to get help. If they get defensive, let it go, and try again at a better time. In the meantime, you might talk with other family members or addiction specialists to discuss an intervention or other treatment options.
There are many different options to approach a loved one about their addiction and ways to help. Strive to talk to them and see how they feel about rehab as soon as possible. When it comes to addiction, you don’t want to wait.
Be Loving, Understanding and Supportive
Love and support are critical elements of recovery. Let your loved one know you believe in them, and you’re there for them regardless of their addiction. Give them space to speak, and listen to them in a non-judgmental way, even if you do not agree with what they are saying. Your support and understanding can help motivate them to improve their health. According to the study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, the top reason individuals seek treatment is their desire to improve. With your support, love and understanding, your family member or friend can build the confidence and courage they need to take the next step.
It’s always best to approach addiction with compassion and to keep in mind that addiction is a disease. With that said, you also have a right to set boundaries and be honest. It might feel tricky to be loving and gentle without being an enabler. A drug and alcohol counselor can help you find the right balance and recognize harmful behaviors.
Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, sitting down with a loved one and having an open and honest conversation is enough to motivate them to get help. However, you might realize you need professional assistance getting your loved one into a treatment program. If your loved one has not responded to your efforts, you might consider holding a formal intervention.
An intervention is a planned process that involves family, friends and the guidance of a doctor or licensed counselor. An intervention must be carefully orchestrated to be successful and to keep things from getting worse. During the meeting, friends and family will share specific examples of destructive behaviors, offer a clear prearranged treatment plan and tell the addicted individual what will happen if they refuse treatment. The goal of an intervention is not to make your loved one feel attacked, but to show them the reality of the situation, motivate them and offer them a structured opportunity to change.
Your loved one may not accept treatment at the end of the intervention. It’s important to prepare yourself emotionally for different responses. They may get angry, upset or continue to deny they have a problem. If they refuse treatment, be ready to follow through on the consequences you mentioned during the intervention. Most importantly, don’t lose hope. Continue to resist enabling behaviors, treat your loved one with compassion and encourage positive changes. Never hesitate to ask a professional for help. A counselor who specializes in addiction treatment can provide advice and show you the steps for getting someone into a rehab program.
Contact Tranquil Shores Today
It’s devastating to watch a loved one falling deeper into addiction. You do not have to cope with a loved one’s illness alone. Reach out to us at Tranquil Shores, where experienced and supportive counselors are ready to help you and your loved one restore your relationship and find peace in recovery. To help your loved one reclaim their life, call us today at 727-391-7001 or toll-free at 877-566-1166.