10 Tips To Help Convince an Alcoholic Family Member to Go to Rehab

Depressed drunk man holding a drink and sleeping with his head on the table (Focused on the drink, his face is out of focus)

The person you love most in this world is an addict. You’re not exactly sure how it happened. But one day you clicked. All the signs you thought were only present in movies, became reality.

As much as you urged them to go to rehab- nothing seems to work. And it feels like the more you insist that they go, the stronger the resistance.

At this point, you’re left powerless and wondering: “Can you force someone to go to rehab?”

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 15.1 million adults have alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder or AUD is the result of heavy drinking that continues over a period of time.

You shouldn’t lose hope for your loved one. But if you find it difficult to get them to rehab, here are 10 ways to encourage an alcoholic family member or friend to get treatment.

10 Ways To Encourage An Alcoholic Family Member To Go To Rehab

If you haven’t noticed it by now, you’ll soon realize that addicts are really good at denying their addiction. So what do you do when an alcoholic family member refuses to get help?

Here are some helpful tips.

1. Involuntary Commitment

With the help of a lawyer, you’re able to get the right help for an alcoholic family member or friend. After 2011, 38 out of the 50 states made it legally possible to court-order treatment for those who are struggling with alcohol abuse.

One of the downsides of these court orders is the lengthy process. Between hiring the right lawyers and attaining the proper documents, you can find yourself waiting a while. But once these documents are processed, you are able to help your family/friend find the help they need.

2. Hold An Intervention

Holding an intervention is extremely helpful when it comes to encouraging an alcoholic family member or friend to go to rehab. It doesn’t necessarily force the struggling family member, but it does provide a sense of pressure.

If you’re unfamiliar, an intervention is going to consist of a structured meeting where the friends and family of the alcoholic express what they’ve noticed about the alcoholic family member’s recent behavior.

It is not recommended that you perform an intervention with less than 3 people. Because this is a vulnerable process, the alcoholic family member can feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame that can, in turn, cause a negative reaction.

Keep in mind that interventions come with a certain level of vulnerability. So be certain that only trusted family and friends are present.

3. Allow Crisis

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Pain is the most effective teacher”? It’s true. Some of life’s most beautiful lessons happen at the end of the messiest crisis’.

But let’s be honest. No one ever wants to see their loved one suffer. And watching an alcoholic family member go through this kind life crisis, hurts. But in reality, allowing them to lose their job, get a DUI, or be thrown in jail can really put things into perspective for them.

It’s in these moments of involuntary solitude, an alcoholic family member is able to reorder their priorities and gain perspective.

Yes, this process is extremely difficult, especially if you’re being asked to sit back and watch. Fortunately, there are support groups that will help family and friends learn how to detach while allowing the crisis to take place.

4. Don’t Allow Unacceptable Behavior

While we recommend that you allow the crisis to happen, we do remind friends and family members not to condone unacceptable behavior.

It’s about finding balance.

So if you find yourself using verbiage such as “They just had too much to drink” or “He/She just had a rough week at work”- you are enabling the addict to continue their behavior. And if behaviors like this aren’t addressed promptly, you’ll find it get worse as time goes on.

The result of accepting unacceptable behavior is abuse. Endless relationships, whether relational or platonic, escalate to physical and narcissistic abuse. It’s important to protect children from this kind of behavior because not only does it put them in danger, but it damages their psyche over the years to come.

5. Have Reasonable Expectations

Once your loved one has agreed to get treatment, there are certain boundaries that you have to set for yourself in order to continue to promote progress for your alcoholic family member.

One of these boundaries? Setting realistic expectations.

An alcoholic family member will swear to you that they will never drink another ounce of alcohol before, after, and post-treatment. And while you’re naturally inclined to believe them – this sets an unrealistic expectation for the struggling addict.

Think about it. If someone has formed an addictive habit, how probable is it that they would leave cold turkey?

In order to avoid negative outcomes such as disappointment and shame, encourage your alcohol family member to take it one day at a time. Remind them that you are there for them even during their shortcomings.

6. Don’t Take It Personally

This step is going to be essential if you want to successfully encourage an alcoholic family member to go to rehab. Unfortunately, a lot of hopeful family members take their loved ones shortcomings to heart.

When you begin to think that the addict is personally attacking you or personally lying to you, you’ll begin reacting in ways that are counter-productive to the progression that has been made.

Now more than ever you need to be understanding. When someone is truly struggling with addiction, their brain chemistry is bound to changing and the decisions they make aren’t always theirs.

7. Don’t Fall Into The Mistake Of Living In The Past

Let’s face it. When trying to bring an alcoholic family member to rehab, there are tons of negative emotions that bombard them even if they’re not vocal about it.

If your ultimate goal is to get them to a treatment center where they actually complete the process, you’re going to have to leave the past behind. As tempting as it might be to continue to bring up their past mistakes, this could be discouraging.

8. Research The Right Treatment Options

One of the most important steps when successfully trying to get an alcoholic family member to stay in rehab is finding the right treatment options. With so many facilities to choose from, how do you know which one to choose?

Here at Pathways, we understand that each patient is different and this is why we offer various treatment options. We care about the patient and customize each treatment plan according to their place of need.

Here are some treatment options you might want to consider:

  • Medical detox
  • Residential treatment (28 days)
  • Residential extended care
  • Transition Housing
  • Outpatient care
  • Medically assisted treatment

Once we’re able to further evaluate the necessities of your alcoholic family member, we’ll come up with a treatment plan that they will be comfortable with.

9. Aftercare Is Equally As Important

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When trying to convince an alcoholic family member to check into rehab, you’re going to notice that explaining the steps in the treatment process is going to play in your favor.

Rehab forces the alcoholic to put their full trust into the unknown and this could be extremely frightening. Informing them of your game plan ahead of time can relieve them from this kind of anxiety.

Assemble a meeting with your alcoholic family member or friend. Tell them about the pre-treatment, treatment, and post-treatment stages so that they are able to walk into these next stages confidently.

10. Don’t Cover It Up/Enable Them

One common habit of alcoholics is requesting close friends “not to tell anyone”. While this may seem like you’re gaining a sense of confidence with them, this could be extremely detrimental at the end.

If you are serious about wanting your loved one to check into rehab, the first step is guiding them to admit they have a problem. Once they are able to come to reach these

Let Us Help You Find Your Path To Recovery

One of the hardest battles to go through is helping an alcoholic family member, but thankfully you don’t have to do it alone. Here at Pathways, we provide step-by-step instructions on how to make the recovery process an easy one.

With various treatment programs as well as endless resources, our treatment and recovery center excels at helping people find hope after abuse of the following substances:

Addiction isn’t a choice. So whether you or someone you know currently struggles with substance abuse, let us help. Our team of professionals tailors each program to the patient’s specific need.

Have questions about your next step? Be sure to contact us and let us help you get on the right pathway to recovery.