How to Help an Addict: Getting a Loved One Into Rehab

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Addiction doesn’t only affect the person who is using drugs, which is often why it’s a friend or family member seeking treatment options for their loved ones. A loved one or friend’s addiction can affect everyone in their path. From the person they buy their morning coffee from to their co-workers to loved ones, it makes an impact that likely goes unseen to the person who’s addicted. They won’t be able to see how much drugs are affecting their lives. Or, if they see it, they won’t admit it or will forget about it. So, how do you get someone to go to rehab?

If you are watching someone battle addiction, it can feel hopeless at times. But there is help and there are ways you can encourage your loved one to seek help, too. How do you go about finding treatment for a loved one? This helpful guide will show you ways to help someone get into rehab.

#1: Understand the Process of Treatment

For anyone who’s ever seen their loved one suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, urgent just doesn’t seem fast enough. However, rehab takes time. Once they have entered inpatient care, they must go through several steps in an orderly process to have a better chance at achieving and maintaining their sobriety. This involves detoxification, inpatient or outpatient care, aftercare, and ongoing recovery meetings and use of coping skills and resources.

By learning the general timeline and parts of each of these stages, it will help set a better expectation for you and any other friends and family members who may be concerned. Rehab won’t solve your loved one’s addiction problems overnight but it will put them on the right path.

Once you understand the process better and have started researching treatment centers, think about how you’re going to convince the person to go. There’s no one way to go about it because communication will depend on your relationship to the person and how much addiction has affected their life. Write down possible options before going headfirst into the discussion. You want to feel comfortable in your effort to understand what treatment will be like, so you can better talk about it with them.

#2: Talk to Them

Getting a loved one into rehab is easier said than done, because of the sensitivity of such a conversation. First, try talking to them about your concerns. Do this when they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and refrain from using accusatory language. Instead, approach the situation by honestly expressing your concerns for their health and behavior. Begin sentences with “I feel” and invite them to engage in the conversation so you can listen to what they have to say as well.

They might try to convince you they’ll stop. Or, they’ll say they don’t feel like they have a problem. If you don’t have “proof” of how their addiction has affected anyone, they may dismiss your concerns. This may be done jokingly, lovingly, or with anger. Addicts are often in denial. They cannot see what you see. They don’t experience what you do as a witness to the disease.

It may be tough for them to even recognize the physical changes that have manifest due to drug use. The person you are having a conversation with is being influenced by an addiction they don’t have control over. It has affected the way they think and act. Even if the person was once rational, expect push back to the suggestion of help.

In some cases, people feel like tough love is best. Others feel like kindness is the way to get the other person to open up and listen. But have an open conversation first, which shows the person you see what’s going on and you want to help them do something about it.

#3: Seek Help from an Interventionist

Maybe you’ve already gone down the talking route, multiple times, and nothing seems to stick. It’s not uncommon to believe the person when they say they’ll stop or things will change. They may believe that too and want it to happen. That’s where addiction is its most powerful – if everyone wants it to go away, but it still hangs around.

An interventionist is a person who is skilled at helping families form a strategy to talk with their loved ones. The subject of addiction is not a light one and can be more than difficult to know how to bring it up in the “right way.” Through intervention services, you can learn what your part is during the intervention and learn about how to react or what to do during certain scenarios. The goal will always be to get the person with the addiction into a rehab program. But each intervention will be customized on a case-by-case basis.

There are common tools interventionists use to keep the lines of communication open and moving, as well as serve as third-party support to the situation to help guide the conversation. However, not every person will react the same way and not every intervention is successful, especially on the first time around. However, by arming yourself with the information and strength you need to know a difficult conversation is worth it if your loved one gets the treatment they need.

#4: Don’t Pass Judgment

When a person is put on the defensive, even if you are coming from a good place, they might lash out as well. For as much as they’d like to shift blame or point out previous arguments or mistakes of your own, this conversation is about their addiction. And, not just their addiction but you wanting to help them overcome it and seek treatment.

Focus on those aspects whenever having the conversation. Address how their addiction is affecting others in a factual manner. Share your genuine concerns for their health and give examples to bring to light things they just might not realize. For example, often people who are addicted to opioids or other drugs will lose a lot of weight, have their hair fall out, and experience symptoms like paranoia, anxiety, and other depressive types of behavior that causes a concern for them both physically and mentally.

Try to avoid using the word “should” when speaking as well. It’s easy to let it slip out because you see the solution clearly: going to rehab. But that answer may not be as obvious to your loved one. Or, it may not be the solution they choose. While this may be frustrating, and your friend or family member might feel like you’re attacking or being insulting, don’t start to exchange blame or verbal attacks, if they go on the defensive.

#5: Have a Plan

While their response may be unpredictable, you can plan what you’ll say and think through things they may retaliate with. Also, you have control over where you choose to speak to them about it. Is it in the comfort of their own home, at yours, or in a neutral setting? Will you have other family members or friends present? If that’s the case, then it’s best for you to all go over who will be speaking and what is going to be said. Be careful with seating and too many voices at once, because it can look intimidating rather than a plea for them to get help.

Most likely if the person suspects anything is going on, they won’t show or will keep delaying the meeting. Pick a time when you know they’ll be available and make sure you have a backup plan if they try to change things last minute.

#6: Research Ahead of Time

There’s no point to go through the discussion or an intervention, if you don’t have a solution already in place for the person. It makes it easier for them to say no or to change their mind, if you don’t take swift action. Pick a chosen facility or facilities where they can detox and seek inpatient care. Be prepared to answer questions about the place, why you chose it, and how you’ll help them as much as you can along the way.

Although you’ll be directing them where to go, it is still their own decision whether to check themselves in (or out) if of rehab if they are over 18. In order to make them feel safe and secure, set up the plan that way. Give them time to ease into the change. Meaning, if they’ve accepted their addiction and the time to seek help, have an appointment time ready for the two of you (or whoever else is involved) to tour the rehab facility together. Emphasize the treatment part of the plan rather than making the person feel like you’re leaving them in a strange place to be “punished.” The opposite is true.

Make sure you never enable a loved one to leave rehab against the advice of clinical professionals. They need to take the time to work through their addiction and medically train professional are here to help make sure they are successful.

Without performing your due diligence ahead of time, your opportunity of getting an affirmative from the person may slip away and who knows if you’ll have another one. Make the most of the time you have and take action as soon as possible.

Speak with a treatment specialist about getting help for a loved one today.
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#7: Show Your Support Through All Stages

When a person decides to enter treatment, it can feel like a scary transition because it’s something brand new and often separated from their group of friends and family. Show up as a support as often as possible. Depending on the facility’s protocol, once your loved one is in rehab, visit, call, or write letters. There may be limited contact while they are going through the recovery process, but assure them you’ll be there when they return.

If possible, take them to the treatment center and get them settled in. It will be challenging for both of you, but it can also prove helpful as well. Give your loved one photos, a journal, or other small mementos to hold on to during their time in recovery. It will help them remember that what they’re doing is to preserve their health and relationships with others. They know you’ll have to continue you with your day-to-day life while they’re in treatment, but feeling like you’ll be welcoming them back in the future is something they can look forward to.

#8: Give the Extra Push

You may think it has to be the person struggling with addiction who brings up the idea about rehab or shows interest in entering treatment. But that’s not often the case. It’s often a friend or family member that urges them to seek treatment, someone who is persistent.

Addiction takes over your life in such as way that it affects how you think and feel. What they know in their heart is the best thing for them may not logically make sense to them and vice-versa. They need the extra encouragement and a push into receiving help. It’s not going to be an easy or comfortable conversation, but one that could change the course of their lives forever.

If you see someone close to you struggling, speak up. Speak up and provide solutions for them. Urge them to seek treatment and share with them the benefits of rehab. Don’t assume that if they wanted to be sober, they would be, because that’s not always the case. Help them feel supported and show them what kind of future is available for them if they decide to go to rehab.

#9: How to Get the Ball Rolling?

Set up a timeline for yourself. This will help keep you on track as well and be accountable for taking action. On the list include:

Research intervention solutions, even if you don’t necessarily plan to use an interventionist.
Research rehab facilities and make a chart of costs, amenities, location, etc.
Learn about the stages of rehab and what kind of things to expect post-rehab.
Speak to other friends or family members you trust to help you execute the plan.
Choose a time and place to speak to the person you want to go to rehab.
Prepare yourself for an emotional discussion.

By creating a checklist of time, you can have an organized way to get started without delaying the conversation longer than what’s needed. The important thing is to get them help as soon as possible. The more information and preparation you have is better, but really the situation itself is unpredictable and you’ll have to be prepared to roll with the punches.

Speak from the heart. Be honest, encouraging, and loving, but stand firm in the fact that you want them to go to rehab. Not for any other reason but to help save them from a lifetime of addiction. If you need guidance as to where to get started or want to talk with someone about rehab options, contact us and we can provide the information and support you need.

Find hope. Find recovery. Begin a commitment to lifelong recovery today – for yourself, your friend, or for your loved one.
(888) 325-1995


National Institute on Drug Abuse. What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs. Jan. 2016, Accessed April 5, 2016.

Health Direct. Drug And Alcohol Rehabilitation. Revised March 2018, Accessed April 6, 2016.

Addiction Center. Cost of Drug And Alcohol Rehab. Revised Feb. 2018, Accessed April 7, 2016.

National Center for Biotechnology Information. Chapter 1 Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. 2004, Accessed Feb. 7, 2016.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Men grasping hands to help a climber.
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