Convincing Someone to Go to Rehab

picture of Joe Gilmore
Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

June 21, 2023

Table of Contents

If you’re asking yourself how to convince someone with alcohol or drug abuse issues to go to rehab, you’re certainly not alone.

The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH 2020) shows that over 40 million adults in the United States have substance use disorder. Even more distressingly, most estimates show a huge treatment gap, with only one in ten people needing help for alcohol or drug abuse getting the help they need.

heart icon that is 2 hands holding

Need help getting addiction treatment?

However, convincing a loved one to head to treatment, like an Orange County or Huntington Beach rehab center, can be tough, but you can achieve this with the right strategy in place. Be sure to show plenty of love and compassion rather than playing the blame game. All that counts is getting your loved one the help they need.

Be prepared to meet with denial and for your loved one to make promises to quit without professional assistance. Addiction causes changes to the structure and functioning of the brain, so if your loved one appears to be acting irrationally, try to approach this from a place of understanding rather than frustration. To do this, you should discover as much as you can about addiction. This is the first key step to getting your loved one into the right type of treatment facility.

So how do you convince someone to go to rehab?

How to Convince Someone to Go to Rehab

To understand how to convince a family member or friend to go to rehab, you should read through the following steps:

1. Learn as much as possible about addiction

2. Don’t delay acting and don’t wait for your loved one’s addiction to hit rock bottom

3. Plan an intervention with professional help if required

4. Communicate effectively when confronting your loved one about addiction

5. Be objective and non-emotional

6. Get your loved one the treatment they need right away

1) Learn as much as possible about substance abuse and addiction

Before you think about confronting your loved one about their addiction, ask yourself how much you know about addiction in general and their addiction specifically.

Here are some areas worth exploring so you can further your knowledge of what you are dealing with.

  • Substances being used: Is your loved one abusing alcohol, prescription medications, illicit drugs, or a combination of these substances (polysubstance abuse)? Different drugs affect the body and mind in different ways. Some substances may cause your loved one to become withdrawn and paranoid, while others may induce aggression and anger. Knowing what you are dealing with will also help you determine the best way to seek treatment
  • Causes and mechanisms of addiction: NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) is a robust resource highlighting what addiction is and how it happens. NIDA also outlines what forms of intervention are most effective and why it’s necessary to seek treatment for those with alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder (the clinical descriptors for alcoholism and drug addiction).
  • Changes to the brain caused by addiction: Sustained drug or alcohol abuse leads to functional and structural brain changes. Once you grasp this, it should be easier to understand some of the behaviors exhibited by your loved one.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders: Does your loved one have a co-occurring mental health disorder like depression or anxiety? This is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Many people with dual diagnosis self-medicate their symptoms with substances, offering short-term relief but ultimately inflaming both issues. If your loved one is struggling with a co-occurring disorder, both conditions need treating simultaneously.
  • Treatment options: There are many more options for rehab than inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab. While severe addictions typically respond more favorably to a stint in a residential treatment facility, most mild and moderate addictions can be treated in an outpatient setting. IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs) bridge the gap between inpatient and outpatient care, offering more time intensity and structure, but allowing your loved one to remain at home while engaging in treatment. The more you learn about the different levels of care available, the more likely you will help your loved one engage with the optimum addiction treatment.
  • Therapies for addiction treatment: Most addictions are treated in a similar way, using a combination of MAT (medication-assisted treatment), psychotherapy like CBT or DBT, family therapy sessions, and counseling. Find out how your loved one will be treated so you can reassure them by speaking from a position of knowledge.

2) Don’t wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom with drug or alcohol abuse

One of the most enduring myths about addiction is that someone needs to hit rock bottom before they seek formal treatment first. With drug overdose or alcohol poisoning as the possible outcome of rock bottom, it is inadvisable to wait for some arbitrary low point before taking action.

Rather than sitting by while your loved one’s life implodes, do something about it as soon as you are aware of a problem. The longer your loved one continues substance abuse, the greater the risk of long-term adverse effects.

3) Plan an intervention with professional help if required

Once you have established that your loved one would benefit from treatment, you need to plan some type of intervention and inpatient care.

In some cases, you may feel you can approach your loved one alone, convincing them of the need for treatment. More often, though, you are likely to want some assistance.

Planning an intervention with friends and family members allows you to convene with your loved one and let them know how their substance abuse is negatively affecting all of your lives. Sometimes, those with addictions are not aware of the impact of their actions.

You should plan an intervention well ahead of time so you can all practice what you want to say. Give specific examples to show your loved one how their behavior is affecting you.

If necessary, be prepared to follow through with sanctions or consequences if your loved one continues to abuse substances – cutting off financial support, for instance, and stopping all enabling behaviors.

You should also have a place in a suitable treatment center for drug detox lined up. If the intervention is successful, you’ll want your loved one to head off to rehab as soon as possible.

You can seek the assistance of a professional interventionist if this is not something you feel comfortable executing alone.

During the intervention, as well as during all communication with your addicted loved one, there are some simple ways to help things go more smoothly. We’ll explore these next as they can help you to convince a loved one reluctant to engage with treatment.

4) Communicate effectively when confronting your loved one about addiction

Here are some actionable tips for communicating more clearly and effectively:

  • Body language: Keep your posture relaxed and maintain eye contact. This will encourage your loved one to communicate openly.
  • Listen: When trying to convince someone to go to rehab, remember that you want to promote a dialogue. Listen and take what your loved one is saying on board rather than delivering a lengthy spiel.
  • Ask questions: Ask your loved one open-ended questions, giving them a chance to process their thoughts and then answer more expansively. This helps your loved one feel like they are having a conversation rather than listening to unsolicited advice.
  • Repetition: When your loved one makes a statement or asks a question, repeating what you thought you heard will clear up any misunderstandings, and will also show your loved one that you are actively listening.

With these basics in place, think about how you will communicate during the intervention, whether this is one-on-one with your loved one or a formal intervention.

5) Be objective and non-emotional

Leave blame to one side when approaching your loved one about addiction treatment. You should be objective, calm, and compassionate in honest conversation. Underscore everything you say with genuine love and your loved one will feel this at an extremely challenging time.

While you will be dealing with negative emotions and sensitive subject matter, leave negativity out of your communication. You need to be goal-oriented and results-focused: all that counts is getting your loved one the help they need, not making them feel guilty or ashamed for having substance use disorder. Negative emotions will not typically act as a catalyst for your loved one changing.

If all has gone well by this stage, your loved one will not only accept that they need help and detox treatment, but they will also agree to engage in treatment. If so, take action decisively.

6) Get your loved one the treatment they need right away

If you approach an intervention with the proper planning, you should already have an appropriate treatment program lined up for your loved one. One of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Effective Treatment is having treatment available as soon as the person is ready to engage in inpatient treatment.

Get Help for Alcohol or Drug Addiction at Renaissance Recovery Today

Now that you’ve learned how to convince someone to go to rehab, you guide your friend or loved one to go to rehab and seek treatment.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse or drug abuse, reach out to our California rehab for drugs and alcohol today for immediate help at 866-330-9449.

At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based outpatient treatment options to as many individuals as possible, and can provide a referral if detox or inpatient treatment is required. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about what kind of addiction treatment your loved one may require.

SHARE THIS POST

THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE

At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

Check My Insurance Coverage

  • Max File size 20 MB


Text a Recovery Expert

Text our team to get the help you need ASAP.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.