How to Get Someone to Go to Rehab: Tips for Your Family

When someone in your family is struggling with addiction and treatment is yet on the horizon, now is a sensitive time for you all. It’s important to understand some of the common mistakes families make when denial and resistance impede recovery. Then, you can better imagine how to get someone to go to rehab in a way that really supports the goal of long-term recovery.

Quitting drugs or alcohol isn’t just about stopping. It’s about getting to the bottom of why you were using in the first place and working out those issues. And it’s about figuring out how to not start up again.

None of those steps is the easy part. It’s a challenging process, but it’s well worth the effort. The big and interesting question to ask is: What is it worth? If it’s a family member who you are hoping will stop using, it’s probably worth peace of mind, knowing that they are alive and safe and out of trouble—which equates to some serious stress relief. For you.

But what about for them? Sometimes when someone is lost to addiction and substance abuse, their higher hopes can seem like a lost cause. But that is exactly the cause that needs to be uncovered and revived—at least to some extent—for the recovery process to really begin. Remember that you’re not just trying to figure out how to get someone to go to rehab. You’re trying to lay a course for their recovery for the long run.

How Not to Get Someone to Go to Rehab


What does resistance to drug or alcohol rehab look like?

Don’t Let Panic Run the Situation

Drinking alcohol or using drugs is typically a response to stress. It’s a person’s best answer to a problem at the time. The only way they will really be able to move forward from their addiction is with alternative answers and coping strategies. So, you can imagine that adding stress to an already stressful time in life for them will be counterproductive. If you’re feeling panic about the situation, it’s time to take a step back before taking any direct action. It’s time to educate yourself about the real problems and the available options. Tap into the support systems that are ready and waiting for you.

Don’t Keep Cleaning Up After Them

If your current view is that you need to fix something that is wrong, you’re approaching the problem from a misguided direction. The reality is that they are suffering from a mental health disorder, and they need compassionate clinical treatment to effect real solutions. If you are hanging onto hope that you’ll be able to fix the problem in any other way, the shadow of your denial will not help to shine a light on theirs. Moreover, if they can’t see the damage that results from their drinking or using, they won’t know the damage—let alone, take responsibility for it. So, if there are certain behaviors and consequences you won’t tolerate, then don’t tolerate them. Draw a line where their using is negatively affecting you or others, and don’t continue to clean up or fix any destruction around them in order to make life tolerable in the midst of their active addiction.

Don’t Force, Beg, or Try to Guilt Them into Quitting

Blame and judgment will not pave the right path toward recovery; in fact, these pressures will likely isolate and stigmatize them further. Disempowerment is the exact opposite of the goal at hand. It’s important to be able to separate the person from the disease. Ultimately, this is how you and your family member with addiction will get on the same page: by recognizing and accepting that this serious disease calls for dedicated treatment. And, even with all of the support they will receive, a person has to take responsibility for their own recovery journey.

Don’t Try to Handle It All Yourself

First of all, your family member’s recovery is not your responsibility. Second of all, there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. In fact, help is the only way their recovery will succeed because you cannot be their only support system. And, third, if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be no good to them anyway. Keep the long-range goal in mind: the best way to sustain recovery from addiction is to have well-rounded systems of support from clinicians, family, and peers who are also in recovery.

The shadow of your denial will not help to shine a light on theirs.

If you’re ever feeling alone in this struggle, try to remember that you never are. Help is always a short reach away. With that help, it’s possible for you to feel grounded and certain of the possibilities even when the journey is difficult.

Struggling with Drug Addiction?

Struggling with Drug Addiction?

Recovery is Possible

How to Get Someone to Go to Rehab and Be Successful in Recovery


You have your reasons why you want this person to get on the path to recovery. But your reasons won’t be powerful enough fuel for the challenging processes ahead for them. They need to be able to connect emotionally with their own future possibilities in recovery. This buy-in won’t come about by applying guilt over the past or other pressures that keep them stuck in the struggles of the present.

Even with all of the support they will receive, a person has to take responsibility for their own recovery journey.

Here are some tips to get real traction toward treatment for your loved one:

Be Informed

You may know what you want and what you don’t want out of the current family mess. But how do you get from the latter to the former? There is a lot still for you to find out about:

Now is as good a time as any to do some research and talk to professionals who are knowledgeable about substance use disorders and what successful recovery entails.

Get Professional Advice and Assistance

All of the emotions in this situation matter—make no mistake. But you don’t want emotions alone in the driver’s seat. Now is the time to bring in an expert with a fresh perspective on the past, the present, and the future. Even with all of the good research you’re doing into the family disease of addiction and the comprehensive treatment options available, your next steps are critical enough to take extra precautions and let someone with ultimate knowledge and confidence take the lead.

Initiate a Professional Intervention

The expert you call in should be a professional interventionist. With their help, you’ll be able to avoid the pitfalls and make this next important step count. With this expert guidance, you’ll all be able to responsibly approach your family member and their addiction as a serious mental health issue. You don’t want this progressive direction of recovery to be associated with punishment. A professional can help guide the conversations, to help your loved one see how their behaviors have affected the family, and also to help them access their own motivations and goals for recovery. A well-connected interventionist will have a good idea of the best treatment path for your family. And they’ll know what to do if anything unexpected arises or your loved one refuses to seek treatment.

Get Involved with a Support Group for Family Members of Addicts

If you are to be effective in supporting your family member’s recovery, you will need to take responsibility for your own needs at the same time. When you talk to the professional interventionist, they’ll be able to help you understand your role in your loved one’s recovery journey. Once that person enters treatment, you’ll be encouraged to participate in structured family programs to support their recovery. It’s also important to try and join a support group for families of people with addiction. This is the step that will really help to guide your own recovery journey through this family disease of addiction. Just as your family member recovering from addiction will benefit from peer support, you will benefit from talking to others who understand your challenges. This supportive community will help you to maintain a clear and positive perspective in the longer term.

Keep the Complete Treatment Path in Perspective

Substance use disorders are powerful cycles that undermine a person’s freedoms, health, and happiness. Breaking the cycle of addiction is too challenging for a person to do alone. Likewise, once the cycle is broken, it takes comprehensive support to maintain positive choices and lifestyle habits so one doesn’t slip back into the destructive cycle.

When your loved one enters treatment for their addiction, you can expect the following elements to come together:

Finally tapping into these professional resources is a powerful step in the direction of a healthier future. Plus, getting your loved one connected here on the surface, as well as emotionally, can help them turn a corner and get a leg up on their disease. So, as you move forward right now, keep the bigger picture of long-term recovery in sight. And put all of the necessary supports in place for a solid foundation.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.