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How to Get Someone Into Rehab

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Watching a loved one struggle with drug or alcohol addiction is very difficult. Especially when you want them to seek help, but they don’t.

If you’re watching a family member struggle with addiction, you’re not alone.

In the United States, over 23 million people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Only 11 percent of them receive treatment.

Helping an alcoholic get into rehab seems like a big undertaking. But you can break it down into steps. Here are some ways to make the process easier, more organized, and more effective:

1. Recognize the Signs of Addiction

The first step is to determine whether the person is actually addicted. Signs of addiction include:

  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Money problems
  • Problems with the law
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Lying or hiding drug use
  • Aggression or violent behavior

2. Know How and When to Speak to an Addicted Loved One

If they have an addiction, you should approach them and see if they will seek help independently. It's best to do this in a non-confrontational manner.

Try to find a time when they are sober. Use a soft tone, and don't use accusatory statements. For example:

"I feel sad when you spend time getting high instead of hanging out with me,"

is better than

"You always choose drugs over me! You need to stop!"

You should also do some research beforehand. You can select the best treatment option and plan to get them into treatment.

3. Use Empathy

Addiction is a disease that affects the brain. Try not to judge or criticize your loved one for their actions. Instead, try to understand why they act the way they do. This may be difficult at first, but it can help your efforts.

If someone feels forced to go to rehab, they're more likely to resist. Using empathy to address the situation helps them understand the idea of going to rehab.

You can show empathy by:

  • Asking them open-ended questions about their situation
  • Recognizing addiction as a disease that affects a person mentally
  • Avoiding judgment and blame when talking about their behavior 
  • Providing love and support through each recovery stage

4. Establish Healthy Boundaries

Convincing someone to go to rehab is easier said than done. It can even take a toll on your mental health.

Setting boundaries helps you maintain a sense of self while dealing with an addict. Your boundaries will reduce any stress caused by their addiction. They'll also give you a feeling of safety and security.

Remember it's essential to set boundaries. Remind yourself how much you're willing to compromise for your loved one. Make clear intentions so you don’t lose yourself or your freedom.

Establishing boundaries will also help an addict see the consequences of their actions. They’re more likely to see the damage when you don’t tolerate certain behavior.

If needed, seek professional care as well. Speaking to a therapist can provide an outlet for your feelings and thoughts. You can also talk to friends or family members who are going through the same situation.

Staging an Intervention for Addicts

You can also explore staging an intervention.

What is an Intervention?

An intervention helps motivate someone to go to rehab. The goal of an intervention is to get someone into recovery. Interventions can happen between loved ones or with the help of a professional.

During an intervention, family and friends express how they feel about a loved one’s addiction. This can be done through letters or speeches. 

If necessary, family members will try to convince their loved one they need to seek help for their substance abuse problem.

How to Stage an Intervention

An intervention usually follows this structure:

  1. Planning: You'll need to research and plan to be successful. It's best to speak with a doctor, social worker, therapist, or professional interventionist.
  2. Preparing others: Interventions can be very emotional. A professional will help you and others prepare emotionally.
  3. Gathering a team:  Several people should attend the intervention. Partners, family members, and friends should be there.
  4. Giving consequences: If the person tries to walk away from the intervention, the team should respond with consequences.
  5. Sharing: Each member of the team should speak. They should share their feelings and concerns over the substance abuse problem.
  6. Offering treatment options: This should be prepared in advance. Sof the addict is ready, they can accept treatment immediately.

If you plan to perform an intervention, seek professional help from a professional interventionist to ensure everything goes smoothly.

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Effective Addiction Treatment Options

The best type of treatment for substance use depends on the individual’s specific needs and the severity of their addiction:

  • Inpatient Treatment: During inpatient treatment, the person with the substance use disorder will live full-time at a rehab facility. Medical professionals are available 24/7 and will help them through detox, withdrawal, and recovery.
  • Medical Detox: Medical detoxification provides a safe environment for an individual to undergo withdrawal from drugs or alcohol while under medical supervision. Detox can occur in an emergency room, partial hospitalization program, or inpatient treatment.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment is a form of alcohol or drug rehabilitation in which you regularly visit a rehab center, clinic, or therapist. You’re allowed to live at home while receiving treatment. 
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an outpatient drug or alcohol rehabilitation where you live at home and commute to a hospital. These programs typically require more of a time commitment than an outpatient program. 
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a support group for adults with alcoholism or seeking to control their alcohol use. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is an alternative program structured similarly to AA but focused on drug addiction for people struggling with drug use.
  • Relapse Prevention (After Treatment): Relapse prevention is a part of aftercare during the recovery process of alcohol or drug addiction. It seeks to prevent individuals from using again while in their recovery process after treatment. 
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Several medications are used to treat alcohol and drug dependence (medication-assisted treatment). These medications can help with withdrawal symptoms and maintaining abstinence. 
  • Family Therapy: Many consider alcohol or drug addiction a “family disease,” influenced by family trauma or behavior and communication patterns. Family therapy can effectively address the underlying causes of alcohol or drug addiction. It also prevents the disease from progressing. 

Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab? 

Suppose the addicted person is a child under 18. In that case, their legal parent or guardian can send them to rehab without their approval. Even if they refuse to get into the car, the parent may carry them to treatment or hire a transport service.

Involuntary commitment in the United States is a way to force someone to go to rehab through a court order from a judge. Court-ordered rehab requires an adult to be committed to an addiction treatment center.

An involuntary commitment may be the right option when the person suffering from a substance use disorder poses a danger to others or themselves. 

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What States Allow Involuntary Commitment?

Thirty-seven states in the United States and the District of Columbia allow involuntary commitment. Each state has its commitment procedures and legal requirements. 

Before involuntarily committing someone, you should research to understand if your state allows it. Make sure you know the required laws and processes.

Once involuntary commitment is an option for your loved one, you should explore effective addiction treatment options.

Get Help From a Professional Today

Feeling hurt, scared, or overwhelmed is normal when confronting an addiction. But you don't have to go through this alone.

Talk to a professional if you have questions about getting someone into rehab. They can give you advice on how to speak to your loved one. They can also help you figure out logistical details.

Having a treatment plan before staging an intervention can help the process go smoothly. It also eliminates excuses on why the person can't be committed.

Remember to be loving, supportive, and helpful throughout the process. This will be challenging for you. That's why it's best to seek help as soon as possible.

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Updated on September 16, 2022
8 sources cited
  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). "1 Overview, Essential Concepts, and Definitions in Detoxification.” 2006. 
  2. SAMHSA.gov, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Civil Commitment and the Mental Health Care Continuum: Historical Trends and Principles for Law and Practice.” 
  3. Niaaa.nih.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health. “Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician’s Guide.” 2008. 
  4. National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH A SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER OR ALCOHOLISM. 2016. 
  5. SAMHSA.gov, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” 2018. 
  6. Melemis, Steven M. “Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery.” The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 2015. 
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment Settings.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous. What Is A.A.?

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