How to convince someone to go to rehab?

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How to convince someone to go to rehab? 

To convince someone to go to rehab you should first understand the addict, talk to friends and family, then try to stage an intervention. Approach the topic compassionately, don’t judge, and offer any help they might need.  

It is painful to watch a loved one destroy their life with substance abuse. Maybe you've tried to talk to them, but they have refused to change.

It can be challenging to understand why the addicted loved one doesn't see the toll that substance use takes on their lives. But you see it, and you want to help. 

The good news is that there are ways to convince someone to go for addiction treatment. If they are underaged, you can get the court to order them to go for rehab.

If they are adults, you'll have to convince them to go to an addiction treatment facility. 

You can stage a family intervention as family members. During this intervention, you can persuade the individual to seek treatment by communicating how alcohol dependency has disrupted their lives.

It is possible to include a trained interventionist in this approach. A professional interventionist has the knowledge and the skills to communicate empathetically to your addicted loved one. 

It is essential to plan and organise for the intervention properly. A poorly done intervention can damage your intention to help your loved one. 

It is emotionally draining when you're dealing with a loved one's addiction. Trying to convince them to seek help is always a challenging task.

But you need to understand that your loved one does not see the addiction the same way as you. 

Still, there are ways to convince them that addiction treatment is the best decision they can make. 

What you can do when someone won't admit their problem?

You can reach out to an addiction treatment specialist and plan for formal intervention. A professional interventionist has knowledge and experience on how best to approach the loved one.

The professional will also provide you with educational resources and tips on how best to talk to the addicted person. 

For a successful intervention, you can look for professionals with the following qualifications: 

  • LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) 
  • CADC (certified alcohol and drug counsellor) 
  • LADC (licensed alcohol/drug counsellor) 
  • CCDC (certified chemical dependency counsellor). 

Some professionals have a general certification, such as CIP (Certified Intervention Professional) combined with other disciplines.

If you don't know where to start looking for a professional, you can reach out to a rehab centre. The centre may send someone to help you stage the intervention.

Alternatively, you can consult your physician for guidance on how to approach your loved one. 

If the addict doesn't admit their problem, you can also try the following approaches. 

Have an honest conversation with the addict.  

You can include other loved ones in the conversion or take it upon yourself to talk to the addict.

Talk to them privately about the addiction when they are sober. Before the conversation, learn as much as you can about addiction. 

You need to be calm during the conversation and avoid being judgmental or confrontational. Also, avoid using the word "addict." Give them examples of how their actions have harmed them or others.

Try to convince them to seek treatment for their addictive behaviour.

If they are still hesitant to go to rehab, you can try to convince them to attend a support group meeting or meet someone who can provide some excellent guidance on the issue. 

If they still refuse, you can try another time again. 

Let them take responsibility for their actions. 

Alcohol and drugs disrupt a person's professional and social life. Yet what most loved ones do is that they bail the addict.

One of the most effective tools of getting your addicted loved one to admit they have a problem is to let them face the consequences for their actions. This approach is commonly known as "tough love," and it works. 

Let's say, for example, your loved one has a habit of telling you to loan them money after they've squandered it on drinking. You can choose to say no to loaning them the cash.

Another example is if you used to call in sick whenever they failed to show up to work because of a hangover, you could let them make the call. 

Seek support for yourself 

A loved one's addiction can negatively affect your well-being. It can drain your energy and make you feel frustrated with life.

There are support groups such as Al anon or Narc-anon that offer valuable support and guidance. These groups also have special programs to assist teens and families struggling with substance abuse problem. 

The information and skills you get from these groups can be a powerful motivator.

You will learn about the treatment options available and how to handle a loved one who is an addict. 

Set healthy boundaries 

The healthiest decision you can make when dealing with substance use disorder is creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. Failure to do so will put you at risk of losing yourself, your freedom, and your personal life.

You cannot let your family member with the addiction disrupt your own life. You need to set limits to manage the stress and chaos you experience because of your loved one's substance addiction. 

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words. 

Active addiction destroys the addict inside and out. It is possible to see evidence of the drug abuse problem in the pictures.

You can look for ways to share pictures before the addiction to show that person how happy and healthy they were. The old pictures may motivate them to join a treatment program. 

Write them a letter. 

If an honest conversation does not work, you can try writing them a letter. This approach is a concrete way to share your feelings and good intentions with your loved one without a confrontation.

A letter is also something that the addict can take with them if they decide to rehab. 


Why is telling someone they need to enter rehab so hard? 

Telling someone to stop drinking without going to rehab is hard because of the effects of addiction on the brain. Addiction alters the brain chemistry making the addict dependent. 

In most cases, the addiction comes with co-occurring conditions. Studies show that mental health problems are experienced in 70% of the drug and 86% alcoholics [1]. 

It is difficult to tell someone how the addiction has negatively impacted them. In most cases, they will either blame their circumstances on personal events or the actions of others.

Left unchanged, the addicted person may end up with medical issues. Continued substance abuse can lead to injury, overdose, or death. 

You can seek professional help to convince the person to go to alcoholism treatment centers. Finding the right time when they are sober and can be reasoned with can play an integral role in convincing them to go to a treatment centre. 

Ways to convince someone to go to rehab 

There are ways to convince someone to join a rehabilitation facility. You can: 

1. Seek professional help. An addiction specialist will guide you in planning for intervention. It is advisable to hold this intervention as soon as possible to prevent the drug addiction from getting worse. 

2. Talk to them. Talk to your loved one about the treatment options available. Demonstrate empathy during the conversations and allow your loved one to make their own decision. 

3. Encourage them to join a support group. One of the most effective tools for convincing addicts to go to rehab is by getting them to join a support group. Joining a recovery community may motivate them to desire to change. 

4. Refuse to enable the addiction. Don't make excuses for your loved one, and don't let them convince you with empty promises. Let them take responsibility for their actions. Constantly bailing them out will do more harm than good. 

5. Try the wake-up call intervention.  You can get the family or friends of the addict to join you in holding a brief intervention. During the intervention, you can sit down with the person and open their eyes to the severity of the situation. 

6. Medical motivation. Suppose the addicted person ends up in hospital because of a problem drinking or overdosing drugs or a drug-related accident. In that case, you can let the physician present tell them about the risks involved if they don't seek treatment. 

Can you force someone to go to rehab? 

In the UK, neither private individuals nor alcohol rehab clinics have the jurisdiction to enforce someone to enter rehab - this can only be achieved via a legal ruling, or a section under the Mental Health Act (1983) by an appropriate medical professional.

Instead, when speaking to someone in active addiction, the objective is to first listen to the addicted individual, and approach the issue from the perspective of positive motivation and encouragement, rather than negative reinforcement or criticism.

Negative criticism will usually result in the addict retreating further into the cycle of addiction in order to curb feelings of shame or guilt, that have arisen as a result of their usage or its consequences.

Families and friends are often even more affected by the consequences of addiction than the addict themselves.

Therefore, it's common for loved ones to seek to get the addict or alcoholic to understand how much pain they are causing.

However, in the early stages of active addiction, the individual simply is not capable of understanding this. Their understanding of the effects of their behaviour, and "making amends" will come later in the full drug or alcohol rehabilitation process.

While an intervention can help to reinforce the consequences of addictive behaviours, it has no guarantee of success.

You can reach out to an addicted individual to help them understand the benefits they stand to gain from the recovery and again, use positive motivation about the benefits of a life-long recovery, instead of the penalties attached to continued addiction.

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: November 22, 2023