Getting someone you care about to seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction isn’t easy. Family members will often be met with resistance, or perhaps even denial or hostility.
For many, this process can be confusing. Frustrating. Perhaps scary, depending on how your spouse, friend, or family member reacts.
What’s important for loved ones to know is there are multiple options for helping a loved one seek out drug or alcohol rehab—and you’re not alone.
Here you’ll find information on:
- ways to get help for a loved one with addiction
- do’s and don’ts for getting a loved one to seek help
- overview of different treatment options
How To Get Help For An Addicted Loved One
Getting help for a loved one who’s addicted to drugs or alcohol isn’t about force. It’s not about shaming someone into treatment or placing blame for the hurt their addiction has caused.
Getting a loved one into rehab needs to come from a place of care. Ultimately, they will have to choose recovery themselves, by recognizing that their habits no longer serve their happiness.
What friends, family members, and others close to someone with an addiction can do is offer support and patience, and understand that your loved one will likely have a long road ahead.
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Here are some options for how you can begin this process:
Talk To Your Loved One
Talking to your friend with substance abuse, first and foremost, is essential. This is important not only for guiding them towards treatment, but voicing why it is that you care.
It’s important that a person’s autonomy is respected. Even if you’re the parent, and they are your child. Your loved one shouldn’t feel cornered or threatened, but supported.
Tips for talking to a loved one:
- Find a quiet place without distractions
- Find a time when they are sober to bring up the subject
- Remain calm and collected
- Be honest about your observations and concerns
- Come from a place of caring and compassion
- Listen to what they have to say
- Prepare for a negative reaction
Read more about how to confront a loved one with addiction
What not to do:
- get angry
- threaten them
- lie to them
- criticize them
- bring it up when they’re high or drunk
- shame or embarrass them
If you’re concerned about confronting them alone, enlist the help of a friend, family member, or a professional interventionist.
It’s okay if this conversation doesn’t go perfectly, or if it takes more than one time to get through to them. And if one approach doesn’t work, consider strategizing with others to create an alternative plan.
Read more about tips for communicating with your loved one in recovery
Talk To A Healthcare Professional
If your loved one is resistant to getting help, it may be helpful to speak to a doctor about the problem.
You might choose to speak to a family doctor, or seek guidance from an addiction treatment professional, such as a counselor or psychiatrist who treats addiction, or a rehab specialist.
What this can help you do:
- confirm signs of drug or alcohol addiction
- educate you about drug addiction and treatment options
- learn strategies for getting through to your loved one
- identify appropriate treatment options
Do’s And Don’ts For Getting A Loved One Into Treatment
Many loved ones of those with addiction feel compelled to get their loved one into treatment or to follow what they’ve seen on TV or read in books. But this isn’t always the best option.
When it comes to getting help for a loved one, there are several considerations that family members can benefit from taking into account to help get a positive outcome.
- build trust so that they will listen to what you have to say
- actively listen to what they have to say
- be honest about the effects of their addiction on your life
- demonstrate patience and compassion
- remain calm if they become defensive or deny the problem
- encourage them to find treatment
- expect setbacks
- make threats
- raise your voice
- argue with them
- belittle them
- enable their drinking or drug use
- expect immediate change
Everyone reacts differently to confrontations about their substance abuse and attempts by people who care about them to seek help.
These reactions can change over time. Sometimes, people are more willing to get help than they were the day prior, or before they reached a certain point in their illness.
Have patience. Remember that there’s a long road ahead, but achieving recovery is possible.
Read more about the difference between enabling and supporting a loved one in recovery
What Addiction Treatment Options Are There For Your Loved One?
The road to recovery looks different for everyone. Different treatment programs may be most suitable for a person based on illness severity, current health status, and other factors.
For many, multiple levels of care are often needed to stabilize a person and help them along on their recovery journey. But this will depend on the personal needs of the individual.
Here is a brief overview of common treatment options:
Detoxification, or detox, is the first step toward overcoming a physical addiction to substances.
Detoxing from certain drugs or alcohol can be dangerous without medical support. Therefore, finding a detox program through a professional treatment provider is recommended.
Detox services can be found through:
- detox facilities
- some treatment centers
- some hospitals and medical centers
- doctor’s office (outpatient detox or coordination assistance)
See more about drug and alcohol detox programs.
Inpatient Addiction Treatment
Inpatient treatment is the highest level of care for treating substance use disorders.
Inpatient treatment, also known as inpatient rehab, is an intensive treatment program that involves living in a treatment facility around-the-clock for supervision, support, and treatment.
Common offerings of inpatient rehab include:
- individual counseling
- group therapy
- skills groups
- family or couples therapy
- medication management
- medical care
- relapse prevention and aftercare
Residential Addiction Treatment
Residential treatment is similar to inpatient treatment, and the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Both are 24-hour programs that offer intensive treatment and support.
Residential programs are typically offered through rehab centers, not hospitals, and can sometimes be less clinical in nature with additional amenities.
Outpatient Addiction Treatment
Outpatient treatment is a less intensive, lower level of care that does not involve staying in a treatment facility overnight.
Rather, a person will attend treatment in an individual or group setting for a predetermined set of time each day, or week, and leave the facility afterward.
Outpatient treatment can be found at multiple levels of care, based on the amount of structure a person needs and the severity of their illness.
Outpatient treatment options include:
- partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- general outpatient program (OP)
- outpatient counseling
See more about outpatient treatment for substance abuse.
Call Today To Get Help For A Loved One With Addiction
Thousands of people across the United States seek help for drug and alcohol addiction each year.
Call our free and confidential helpline today to find a treatment program that’s right for you or a loved one living with addiction.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) — Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — How can family and friends make a difference in the life of someone needing treatment?
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Principles of Effective Treatment: A Research Guide (Third Edition)