4 Ways to Help Your Loved One if They Reject Addiction Treatment

3 min


Addicts will pretty much refuse everything that’s offered to them, unless, of course, it comes in a prescription (legal or otherwise), a liquor bottle, or from the shady guy hanging on a downtown street corner, who promises that just one hit on the pipe of this baby and all your blues will simply blow away.

Addicts live in a state of constant denial, as often do the people who care about them and love them, all of them believing (hoping, really) that this addiction will calm itself down, and the one suffering from this chronic, relapsing brain disorder – this disease, will eventually “sort themselves out,” and somehow magically stop using or drinking.

In reality, however, that doesn’t happen. It happens to no-one, and It never happened to me, either.

After a young life lost to cocaine and alcohol addiction, my parents eventually realized that too, and threw my worn-out, depressed body in the back of our family car, and drove me across the state line, and on to a Philadelphia drug rehab center that was expecting me. That was over 6 years ago now, and, thanks to the help I was given, I have been clean, sober, and thankful ever since.

If you have a loved one who is refusing to get treatment for their substance or alcohol abuse, you need to become proactive in their care. Here are your “4 Ways to Help Your Loved One if They Reject Addiction Treatment”:

1. The First Step: Educate Yourself

Addiction, as mentioned previously, is medically defined as “a chronic, relapsing brain disorder.” However, the addict themselves, or those around them, rarely thinks of it in that way. They should do. It doesn’t go away unless the addict receives the appropriate addiction treatment, even if the addict thinks, says, or even reassures you that it will.

Therefore, if you have misconceptions about the disease of addiction, you need to educate yourself. If you, too, are in denial, it’s not helping anyone. The reality is that they need to get better, to get healthier, physically, and mentally, and you need to be there for them.

Education: If you have preconceptions or little idea of what the addict is going through, it’s hard to also understand exactly what the addict endures every single day, and the seriousness of their situation. So do the research, and learn about and understand the specific drug, eg. opioids, cocaine or alcohol, your loved one is abusing and that they are now addicted to.

2. The Medical Approach

Addicts rarely have moments of clarity. Therefore, it’s up to you to make a doctor’s appointment on their behalf, and, when you do so, explain the situation – the addiction and the refusal to get treatment. That way, they’ll understand the issues involved and be able to recommend courses of action to take, which may even persuade the addict. Additionally, it has been shown to help addicts when someone separates from their family or social circle is able to confirm the addiction and show that treatment is the only option.

3. The Offer of Full Support

You must let the addict know that you are there for them, you are offering your full support, and it’s not for you to judge or be angry, anyway, as frustrating as it may feel. Just let them know you care and only what wants best for them. Whatever you do, never use guilt, or say things like “How could you do this to me after all I’ve done for you?” – guilting and shaming an addict can make matters worse…

4. The Intervention

If all else has failed – the educated reasoning, the doctor’s diagnosis, and the offer of full support – making you believe they’ll never get the help and treatment they need, there is another option. An “intervention” is the process where, with prior careful planning, a gathering of family and friends, in full consultation with a doctor or addiction professional, such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor or an intervention professional (known as an interventionist), calmly confront the addict about their substance abuse, and ask them to agree to treatment.

Family and friends provide specific examples of the addict’s destructive behaviors and its impact on them. The addict is then offered a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps and goals, as well as guidelines, which include pre-agreed ultimatums from the family and friends there – what happens if they refuse this help.

Real, structured, and professional interventions (not the kind you see on MTV and other TV channels) are statistically one of the most effective tools you have at getting the addict to agree to the addiction treatment they need.

Be Proactive…

It is highly unlikely that your addicted loved one will seek or find treatment on their own. Furthermore, addiction is a chronic disease, and it will never magically disappear on its own. It is then in the addict’s best interests that you, as their loved one, become proactive by following the advice given here:

  • The First Step: Educate Yourself
  • The Medical Approach
  • The Offer of Full Support
  • The Intervention

Have you ever been in this kind of situation, as either the addict or the loved one? How did you find treatment or help someone to get the treatment they need? Please drop a comment below for other readers – thank you.


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