How To Convince Someone To Go To Rehab Even if They Don’t Want to

Last Updated: June 4, 2020

Loving someone who has an addiction problem is incredibly difficult. Persons who struggle with either alcohol or drug addiction tend to lose their ability to love and care about other people in their lives. Their whole focus becomes the addiction and finding ways to get high or get drunk. Trying to communicate with loved ones who have an addiction problem can be challenging.
Read about how to get an addict into rehab. If one is looking for additional information about this, call the 24-hour hotline at (888)-459-5511 to speak with a knowledgeable representative who can offer more personalized information.

Why Is Convincing An Addict To Enter Rehab So Difficult?

Convincing an addict to go into rehab is hard because they obviously don’t want to go. What they want is to do is keep drinking or taking drugs.

This must be kept in mind when confronting anyone who has developed an addiction. To some extent, if one is trying to get a family member into rehab, one is not talking to a family member at all, but to an addiction that is trying desperately to perpetuate itself. The addiction is not in control. The task is to try to help the loved one person to take that control back.
This is not going to be an easy task, because one of the key aspects of addiction is denial. Someone with an addiction problem will lie to friends, family, co-workers, and everyone else about their addiction, but the thing one needs to bear in mind while trying to convince them to seek help is that the person they’re lying to the most is themselves.

Can and Should Someone Be Gotten Into Rehab Against Their Will?

Definitely, if that’s the only way for them to get help. There is a common myth about addiction that “In order to get better, addicts have to want it.” This actually isn’t true, because scientific studies show that success rates for those who were forced to go to rehab are remarkably similar to success rates for those who went to rehab voluntarily.

When Is The Best Time To Talk To Someone About Rehab?

First, it’s important to wait until the person is sober. Drugs and alcohol change how the brain processes information, and if the person is under the influence, an addict almost certainly won’t be able to comprehend what one is trying to say.
One should also not have such a discussion in the middle of some incident that has made either one or the addicted person angry or emotional. Wait until the next day, or some time to discuss things more calmly.

What To Focus On During The Conversation

The goal of any “intervention conversation” – whether it’s part of a formal substance abuse intervention or a more private one-on-one conversation – is to get the person to accept help and enter rehab. Try to keep the following general guidelines in mind:

  • Show the concern and care. The essential thing to get across is coming from a place of love and caring, one in which one really want the best for an addict. Saying “I love you” and “You’re not alone” are important, and usually much more effective than “tough love.”
  • Care and compassion are always the best approaches. Although it can be difficult, one should try to take a calm, loving, and compassionate approach to the meeting. Being angry and using harsh words is never productive. Remember that addiction is a disease.
  • Help the person make connections. If they’re lost in a haze of substance abuse, chances are they really haven’t ever made the connection between that abuse and the impact it has on the people and things they love. Make tangible connections that help them to understand that they’ve changed. For example, if addicted used to love golf but don’t play anymore because all the money is going to supporting a drug habit, that’s a tangible connection.
  • Prepare for the conversation by doing research beforehand. The challenge is how to get someone admitted into rehab. So one should know as much as possible about the treatment program. Bring written materials about the facility, their treatment programs, and their success rates.
  • Listen as much as speak. This is a good rule of thumb for any conversation, but it’s essential during a conversation with people one cares about and wants to help. One of the most powerful needs that human beings have is to be seen and heard.
  • Communicate the limits. If a loved one refuses help and doesn’t want to change, make sure to let them know the consequences of that decision. If one feels that can’t continue living with an addicted person while the drugs or alcohol are still being abused, say so. If one is afraid to allow an addicted person to be alone with the kids, be also very clear about that.

Things Not To Talk About

Naturally, there are a few things everyone should avoid when trying to get someone into rehab:

  • Avoid scary stories. Telling to a friend or family member stories about the horrible things that happened to other people when they tried to quit on their own is not helpful. Share hopeful, supportive stories, not negative ones.
  • Don’t compare problems. On the whole, the “No one is perfect and I have problems, too” approach doesn’t work, because frankly no one whose brain is controlled by a serious addiction believes anyone’s problems are as bad as theirs.
  • Don’t say stuff like “You’re so selfish…why don’t you just stop doing drugs?” It would be wonderful if addicts could instantly stop feeding their addictions, but most need help to accomplish that. They can’t just will away a condition that has literally reprogrammed their brain chemistry.

Understand and Communicate the Treatment / Rehabilitation Process

Again, the answer to how to get someone into rehab against their will is to have a plan. One needs to understand and be able to describe detoxification, the difference between inpatient treatment and outpatient counseling, aftercare, and ongoing recovery meetings and techniques.

Be Prepared For Excuses And Evasions

The addicted person might say things like “I can always start rehab next month, when it’s less busy at work”, but thi is just an evasion, a way to avoid having to make drastic changes to their life.
If the person firmly claims having the problem, be prepared with examples to show them that they do. Focus on specific events and incidents to make it harder for the addicted person to use general excuses.

Be Prepared In Case The Conversation Doesn’t Work

While one should always hope for the best when trying to get someone into rehab, one should be prepared emotionally for the possibility that addicted person is not going to be able to. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 11% of people with substance abuse addictions actually get the help they needed.
And even if the loved one does agree to enter rehab, it’s not a given that the treatment program will “take” and be successful the first time. An estimated 40% to 60% of people addicted to drugs or alcohol relapse. So, even if such an “intervention conversation” fails and the person refuses treatment, one may have “planted a seed” that bears fruit later.

Page Sources

  1. What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs,
  2. How to Get a Person to Seek Treatment,

Published on: May 17th, 2018

Updated on: June 4th, 2020


Leave a comment

  • markisha
    my brother is on drugs and we have no help we tryed to get him in a drug program but it didnt work he left and came right back home i am trying to help him get his life togather what do i need to do ?
    • Lori
      I’m looking for help to. I’m getting no answers, I really thought that they’re be more out there to help. Police and clinics have no answers for me. I can’t give up on my daughter, I refuse.
      • Gayle Renee Rosalez
        I do not know what state you are in but. Check Teen Challenge and Foundry ministries.
      • Siwe
        Same story here I felt like giving up on her . She is a very smart girl lost everything including her husband she pushed him away . She blamed herself for messing up her life . But we just want her to learn from her mistakes and start again. We love her we have her opinions, tough Iove offers all sort of help it breaking my heart she won’t accept she tells lies lies after lies to get money and she abondoned her daughter. It getting really messy she is 27 years .
  • Julie Clifford
    My daughter has cirrhosis of the liver and will at some point need a liver transplant. She was 13 months sober, then she got pneumonia and was hospitalized. When she got out, she started drinking heavily again, got a dui and had her new car taken from her. now she says she needs the alcohol to help with the shakes and other withdrawal symptoms. She is avoiding us and does not want to look at other treatment programs. What can I do as her mother to help her? I am afraid she is going to go into liver failure and die. Thank you
    • margaret Roe
      Hi Julie, I feel so much for you and as a Mother it’s so hard to watch your Daughter killing herself. i am having the same problem with my Daughter and like you feel helpless. I will keep her in my prayers. take care.
  • Connie
    I need a drug rehab that takes medicare and amerigroup for my daughter having a hard time finding one inpatient thank you
  • Mary
    Please help . My husband and I use to do meth . We have been clean for 12 years. We lived in Cali and moved to Utah and have been here for 5 years. My husband has been using , and I’m sure he is starting to smoke it. I can smell it on him. He gets violent if I say something to him. He been very distant in the last year. I don’t know what to do . I’m really thinks of just getting a divorce .
    • Ann
      Hello there. Im struggling too as far as trying to get my husband help. He is on heroin I believe. Used to snort Oxi’s. This has been going on for about 8 years now. He is now losing teeth. And of course he is in denial and says he’s not using at all. But all the signs are there. Feeling helpless.
  • Darlene
    I need help for my husband. He is an alcoholic and is getting worse since the loss of my dad. He is our only source of income right now. So we need to find a place here in our town that would be able to help him so he is still able to work. I am so desperate right now. I just don’t know what do to do anymore.
  • Tiny
    For many years my family and I have been dealing with a member consistently yelling every night. Not only yelling but stealing our things, and going around the neighborhood yelling. We don’t live in a good neighborhood either. We’ve tried everything to get him help, but he gets away with everything and feels powerful or unstoppable. The drug really took control of him and now we don’t know what to do. Please any suggestions for I have so many restless night as well As my grandmother.
  • margaret Roe
    my Daughter is 53 years old and drinking since she was 18 years old. I have done everything i can to help her but i am worn out, i am 79 years old and the stress is having a bad effect on me.She was in rehab 6 times and always drank again after she came out. her liver, heart and stomach are causing problems for her. People tell me forget about her as she is going to die. she walked out on her Husband and Children ten years ago. i had her living with me but i could not cope with her drinking and smoking so she left but i did not ask her to leave.she is now living with her Boy friend who wants her out as he is sick of her. she has no where to go but will not go to rehab. my other Daughter offered her a home with her if she gets dry and would get her a job but she say’s no… My Husband died twelve months ago and i am trying to cope with that. any advice i would welcome.
  • Sop
    Hi, I am worried about a friend and his mum. they live in a house with his dad (his mums husband) who is an alcoholic and has been for an uncountable amount of years. He has recently begun to act more and more violently after not doing so for many months, this was reoccurring in the early years of his alcoholism. Psychical and verbal abuse ect… He is refusing help and is currently beginning to scare the people that he lives with and those that are in contact with these two helpless people. He has been in a rehabilitation centre before but now I think it is time he acquired help like this again, how can I help them?
  • Jason mears
    Is there any way to get my father into rehab as he is a bad alcoholic and has been drunk for nelly a month and does not eat I have tried everything he has 5 boys of his own he has 9 grand children under 6 and it is scary with the way he is heading he has had this problem for the long as I can remember and Iam 33 I need to do something before he kills him self but I no he will never seek help for it
  • darrell richards
    my Daughter is an opiate addict, has been for years, is in denial. my docktor says i need counseling. True. its gotten to the point i feel like its killing me not her. Constant worry and anxiety. went on antianxiety meds to help.It does some .Lots prayer. still im scared for her and me what the future may hold . Darrell
  • Mary
    My brother is 49 years old because of his alcohol addiction he has lost his job home all self esteem worth etc my sister and I have been trying to help him for 5 years he has injured his back his liver had head trauma and heart valve issues he’s almost died 3 times now we have been putting everything in our lives on hold for almost 6 years everyone he got out of the hospital he sees his ex who is a narcissist and alcohol and drug addict we have no money and no one else to help us we’re afraid he r eat not make it to 50 we can not get him to go to rehab or the hospital what do we do now