One of the hardest parts of having a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder is that they don’t admit there’s a problem, let alone think they should get help for it. Figuring out how to get someone into rehab that doesn’t want to go is tricky and can be explosive.

You can do things to encourage someone to explore treatment options and the recovery process, like having an intervention, but even these strategies don’t always work.

What Are Reasons People Don’t Get Treatment?

When talking about how to get someone in rehab that doesn’t want to go, we first have to realize what could be holding them back. While everyone is different and addiction is complex, some of the common reasons people don’t want treatment when they’re struggling with drugs or alcohol can include:

  • They don’t believe they have a problem with alcohol addiction or drug addiction 
  • Some people are aware of a drug or alcohol abuse issue, but they don’t want to stop using. They’re not ready for a life without being drunk or high. 
  • Not having health insurance or thinking they can’t afford treatment is common.
  • Stigma and the fear of what others will think.
  • Even when someone realizes they have a substance use disorder, they think they can handle it on their own without treatment.
  • Worries about family or career responsibilities.

Denial is one of the primary reasons people in active addiction refuse to go to treatment facilities and don’t think they need it in the first place. One of the defining characteristics of addiction is a denial of a problem with drugs or alcohol, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Some people struggling with addiction have problems with letting go of control. They may want to appear like they’re handling anything. Going to rehab facilities could feel like giving in.

We also have to keep in mind that going to rehab can create a lot of fear and uncertainty. People are afraid of what it will be like to go through detox and withdrawal and what their life might look like in treatment and after completing a program.

One of the most upsetting reasons people don’t get treatment is because they feel like they’ve given up, and they may have the sense they want to die or don’t care if they do. After years of substance abuse, there’s often a loss of all hope. Someone may feel like they’re not worth getting treatment. Death could seem the only solution to them after a long period of drug abuse or having an alcohol use disorder. 

Can You Convince Someone to Go to Rehab?

There are some situations where you may be able to figure out how to get someone in rehab that doesn’t want to go. Then, there are others where it’s possible, but you need the help of a professional, such as an interventionist.

There are also situations where there may be nothing you can do until the person realizes they need the help and agree to seek it out on their own. This may occur once they reach their so-called rock bottom.

To try and help convince someone to get help and treatment, consider the following:

  • Learn as much as you can about addiction. Knowledge and education can be powerful. This will help you make sure that you’re the best possible support system for your loved one.
  • Be firm but empathetic, and don’t give up. It can be frustrating to help an addict who doesn’t want help, but you have to come from the perspective that people don’t like feeling like they’re being forced to do something.
  • Avoid using shame or guilt, and don’t plead. If you’re trying to guilt or shame someone into going to rehab, it’s seldom going to turn out well. It can make the person with a substance use disorder more angry and defensive. Blame and shame will isolate the person further.
  • Make sure that you aren’t helping your loved one avoid consequences. You don’t have to protect someone from the consequences of their addiction when you care about them. Doing so can prolong the amount of time they go without getting help. You have to encourage someone to be responsible for their behaviors.
  • Create strong, firm boundaries and stick with them. You have a life that you need to live as well. You have to protect yourself and keep up with your responsibilities. You can only do this with healthy boundaries.
  • Take care of yourself, even as you’re trying to work to convince someone to get help for themselves.
how to get someone in rehab that doesn't want to go

What About An Intervention?

Hosting an intervention with the loved ones of someone struggling with addiction can be helpful. Interventions, especially when a professional interventionist heads them up, are a good way to motivate someone to go to rehab.

An intervention is an organized confrontation of someone, focusing on the effects of their alcohol or drug use.

There are different approaches to an intervention, and some will work better than others depending on the particular situation.

  • Most alcohol and drug rehab centers have counselors trained to help families facilitate an intervention. 
  • These meetings aim to put the addicted person in an environment and setting where they’re most likely to listen.
  • Interventions can be a total surprise, but newer techniques allow the person to know it will happen ahead of time.
  • The intervention team frequently hires an interventionist who is a mental health professional and has training in addiction treatment.
  • The experiences people have with interventions are mixed, and they’re not a definite approach to how to get someone into a rehab program who doesn’t want to go.
  • Some families find a successful intervention works very well. In these cases, the family outlines how someone’s addiction affects them, and they also tell their loved ones the actions they’ll take if they don’t agree to treatment.
  • Most groups that don’t find interventions helpful usually report that they were poorly conducted or the addicted person wasn’t in the place where they could hear the feedback.
  • If you are going to encourage someone to go to an addiction treatment program, through intervention, or in another way, it helps if you have something already lined up. It can be overwhelming for them to think about finding a program independently.
  • Before approaching the person, you can begin exploring addiction treatment center options, finding out what their programs are like, and even verifying their insurance coverage. The easier you make it for someone to go into treatment, the more likely they will accept help.

You might want to offer both residential and outpatient treatment options so the person can feel like they have a say in their treatment plan. 

From there, you can learn more about how to talk to someone in rehab in a way that will allow you to rebuild a healthy relationship as part of their recovery journey. 

Final Thoughts

Involuntary commitment or court-ordered rehab are other ways someone might go to a rehab center, even if they don’t want to. 

These are specific legal situations, and it’s difficult to force someone to go to treatment centers entirely against their will. Involuntary commitment laws are tricky, even when someone has a severe addiction to drugs or alcohol. 

Despite legal reasons, if a person isn’t ready to accept help, then they aren’t ready for rehab.

If you’d like to learn more about treatment options available in the San Francisco area and getting help for your loved one or yourself, contact the Silicon Valley Recovery team of specialists today by calling 408-547-4089. We can speak to you confidentially to help you explore what might be available.

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