Does someone you know need help? Here is our guide to help you get someone into rehab.
It can be one of the most painful times in your life: seeing a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol. Painful because you may feel helpless to do anything to snap them out of it. Or scary because you may not have any idea of what to do to get them help. Even worse, your loved one could be refusing to get help. There are many frightful scenarios that could be played out, but you are not helpless. There are many things you can do to try to help figure out how to get an addict to get help, preferably in an inpatient treatment facility where the outcome is usually much more positive. Here’s what you can do:
Admitting they need help.
First, let’s review getting into inpatient treatment if your loved one is willing to admit that they’re struggling with addiction. This first step on your loved one’s part is an enormous one. You may be excited and ready to solve all their problems for them — but you should react calmly and listen without judgment. Be aware that you aren’t going to be able to solve their problems on your own. Fortunately, help is available.
You can find a great deal of information about treatment facilities and the rehab process through a quick online search. You can look at reviews of inpatient units, check them out and see which facilities have the philosophy and amenities that are important to you and your loved one. Each facility will have intake staff available to talk with you about what needs to happen to get your loved one there, what the next steps are, and how the process will go from beginning to end.
Your loved one may not be able to do this research on their own. Reaching out for help is a scary thing. That means you can be of great help by stepping in to offer your loved one options for recovery. You might choose a rehab facility for them, or possibly you can go with them on a visit. If you stay supportive and encouraging through this first step, your loved one is more likely to take the huge step of entering rehab.
Paying for treatment
Sometimes a person with a substance use disorder wants to seek help, but they’re worried about how to pay for it. When you’re trying to figure out how to help an addict, this is another avenue where you can step in and be of value. Your loved one may not be able to cope with all the ins and outs of navigating insurance, or they may be embarrassed to call their health insurance company. You can help.
Your loved one’s insurance company can often provide a list of referrals to places they work with, to make this as easy as possible for you. Sometimes taking care of some of the bigger questions like payment right away can make this a simple process and encourage your loved one to get help. Ask your loved one for permission to talk to their insurance company on their behalf (they may have to give you power of attorney to do this)
Health insurance plans typically cover the cost of addiction treatment, and they’re more likely to pay for inpatient detox and rehab. Talk to your loved one’s health insurance company to see what they will cover. If you’ve already picked out a rehab facility, people at that facility can be very helpful here verifying the benefits that insurance will provide (after all, they deal with insurance every day). Make sure to ask what types of programs are covered, what clinics or treatment plans your loved one is qualified to use, and, if needed, what detox medications are covered. Your loved one is likely to feel more positive about going into rehab once they realize that the costs are taken care of.
For those who don’t want help
Talking with staff and getting help arranging payment will help people interested in treatment. But what about people that are resistant to getting help? How do you commit someone to rehab when they don’t want to get better? How can you help an addict who doesn’t want help?
Your loved one may approach your conversation by claiming that no problem exists, refusing to accept the reality of their own substance use disorder. This is difficult, and you may find yourself wondering how to help an addict who is in denial. They may try to blame you or others for their addiction, or they may blame their own feelings and decisions on you or others. Your loved one may also come up with reasons for their actions, finding excuses for even the most irrational or inexplicable behaviors, all as a way to justify the choices they’ve made.
But even if you’re faced with this kind of resistance, the situation is not impossible and you are not helpless. First, always stay in communication with the inpatient rehab that may be able to help your loved one. They may be holding a bed for them and will need to know what is going on. The inpatient unit may also have staff who can come out and talk with your loved one themselves, providing a type of intervention to help encourage and motivate them to get into treatment. Either way staying in contact will be one of the most helpful things you can do.
You can also protect yourself and nudge your loved one toward rehab by setting healthy boundaries. If your loved one refuses to enter treatment, it typically doesn’t help to argue with them, criticize them, or tiptoe around trying to avoid conflict. It also doesn’t help to cover for their actions by, say, calling in sick for them at work.
Instead, you should set clear boundaries. Tell your loved one that you don’t allow any addictive substances in your house — and that goes for their addicted friends as well. Don’t bail them out if they land in jail. And keep reminding them that you will support them whenever they’re ready to seek treatment.
Talk with family and friends
Talking with your friends and family is the first step to figure out how to get someone into rehab, especially if that person might be reluctant to the idea. It may be difficult for some, but in the end this gives you the best chance of changing their behavior for the better and getting them into rehab.
First, this has to be an honest talk about what you are seeing and, more importantly, what you are feeling. Let your loved one know how their substance abuse has affected you and the rest of the family. Write down ahead of time what you plan to say, so you can make sure you cover everything you’re thinking and feeling. This discussion is likely to be emotional, and having something to focus on and help you remember the important things will be of great benefit. Your loved one needs to hear all the pain, fear, and anger that you are carrying as a result of their substance abuse.
If your loved one still refuses to enter treatment, you may want to consider bringing a professional interventionist into the loop to help you. At an intervention, your loved one will face you, other family members, friends, and other important people from their life to hear about the effects of their addiction. Interventions force your loved one to realize the impact their addiction is having on those they care about.
Because these conversations can be difficult, working with a professional interventionist is a good idea. You can probably connect with an interventionist through the rehab facility you’re considering — and the good news is that the facility will likely hold a bed for your loved one if they know an intervention is occurring. Very often, an intervention turns the corner, turning a reluctant person into one ready to seek the treatment they need. Your loved one may go straight from the intervention to the rehab facility and begin treatment right away.
Outline expectations and consequences
Part of the conversation with your loved one has to be about expectations and consequences. You need to set up what you expect from them, the changes they must make. What do they need to do? Stop using completely? Go into inpatient care? Whatever it is, spell it out and then tell them what will happen if they fail to follow through with your expectations. Your choice of consequences is completely up to you, as your situation with your loved one is unique.
You must commit to the consequences as well. It may be tough, but you need to follow through when you set an expectation and your loved one fails to follow through. The consequences need to be something that will have an impact and show you are serious. It may be something as simple as refusing to cover for them when they are under the influence, for example, not calling into work for them saying they are sick. Or it could be something much more serious. Depending on your relationship, you may take away financial support, access to a car, or internet privileges. You may even insist they move out, or you may choose to move out yourself. The choice is up to you, but follow through with it either way.
Many people who struggle with substance use disorders view any discussion of possible consequences as an empty threat. If you don’t follow through, they’ll continue to think you’re not serious. Look at your own behavior as well to make sure you’re not inadvertently enabling your loved one to continue with their addiction (perhaps by making excuses when they can’t show up somewhere or paying their bills).
Understanding how to help an addict without enabling them is difficult, but it is possible. Once you stop enabling them, your loved one has to face consequences. It becomes more difficult for them to pursue their addictive behavior — which in turn may help them realize how much of their own life and personal power they have given away to their addiction. That realization is often the one that helps someone with addictions seek help.
Your loved one may not always be willing to go into inpatient care. There are always options, however, and you should be aware of them. Inpatient treatment is available to your loved one, and help is available to support you while you go through this process. Talk with the rehab facility you’ve chosen about what it takes to be admitted there and the ways they can help you through the process. Recovery is possible. The first step is always asking for help.
Questions about getting a loved one into rehab?
Contact us for any questions regarding helping a loved one getting into a treatment program. An addiction specialist is here for you to answer your questions.
EHN Canada has locations across Canada that specialize in addiction and mental health treatment. If and when you’re ready, please reach out to begin your recovery journey.
Outpatient Services (Multiple locations): 1-888-767-3711