When a sibling, spouse, parent or friend suffers from addiction, everyone close to them also suffers. If nothing is done to intervene, this suffering only worsens over time. If someone you care about is struggling with a substance abuse problem but is reluctant to get help, you will need to confront them about the problem in a firm yet loving way and encourage them to seek treatment.

Why Doesn’t My Loved One Want to Get Help?

There are many reasons your loved one may resist getting help for their substance abuse problem. Most often, these reasons include one or more of the following:

  1. Low self-esteem – People who develop a substance abuse problem often fall into negative thought patterns concerning their own self-worth. They may feel like they’re not worth helping or that nothing can help them anyway.
  2. Denial – Many times a person refuses to admit there is a problem with their behavior. Until they recognize they have a problem, they are not likely to seek help.
  3. Prior failure – If a person previously completed a treatment program and reverted back to substance abuse when they got out, they may feel like they’ve already failed and can’t (or shouldn’t) try again.
  4. Guilt – Far too often, people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for how they’ve treated family and friends, misused money, behaved recklessly or put other’s safety at risk.
  5. Fear – The fear of what other people, such as co-workers, friends or a boss, may think about them can be paralyzing. Additionally, the fear of withdrawal is a major factor, as uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening physical symptoms may seem too daunting to even attempt.

For substance abuse treatment to be effective, a person must be willing to invest in their own recovery and continue to pursue it, even when things get hard. Unfortunately, no one can make that decision for them, so you’ll have to wait until your loved one is ready to take that step. In the meantime, there are several things you can do to encourage them to begin detox and follow it up with a comprehensive addiction treatment program.

Honest, One-On-One Communication

Honesty is key in any healthy relationship. In order to effectively communicate to your loved one that there is a problem with their behavior, you have to be willing to be honest—even if it hurts. You’ll most likely have to tell them some things they don’t want to hear, but it’s important to remain focused on the pain their addiction has caused in your life and the lives of others, instead of placing blame or making accusations.

To help you maintain composure during your discussion, make sure your mindset is one of compassion, not judgment, and remember to communicate your thoughts in a way that expresses your concern for their well-being. Try to remain composed and avoid getting overly emotional.

In some cases, a one-on-one talk may just not be enough to make a loved one realize the extent of the damage caused by their addiction, let alone persuade them to begin detox and rehab. If this is true in your situation, you may want to consider holding an at-home intervention with a group of trusted family members and friends.

Group Interventions

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to wait until your family is in crisis mode before holding an intervention. You can hold an intervention as soon as you realize there is a problem, and the earlier it’s done, the better.

Many at-home interventions are successful but if your loved one has a history of mental illness or you’re worried they may respond violently or with self-harm, it is best to request the help of a professional interventionist. A professional will have specialized training and experience in dealing with these situations. Additionally, he or she will have the advantage of an outside perspective, which will help manage the intervention in a positive and effective way.

Intervention Goals

According to the Mayo Clinic, the three overarching goals of an intervention are:

  • Providing specific examples of harmful behaviors and the effect(s) they have had on yourself and others
  • Offering a solution that involves a treatment plan with specific goals
  • Clearly defining consequences and boundaries each person will draw if the loved one refuses to accept treatment

With these goals in mind, it is essential that you never jump into an intervention without a plan. This could make your loved one feel like they’re being attacked or cause them to further isolate themselves from those that care about them.

Holding the Intervention

Before doing anything, you should carefully gather a group of four to six trusted family members and friends. Next, make a plan, do your research, decide on specific consequences and make notes on what you will say. Only once all of these things have been completed, should you actually hold the intervention.

During the intervention, each person should try to calmly and clearly state how your loved one’s behavior has affected their relationship. Make an effort to stay focused on the problem and avoid passing blame or judging them. Simply focus on the harmful effects you have experienced as a result of their addiction.

Each person should also clearly state the consequences and boundaries they are prepared to draw if your loved one does not accept treatment. At the conclusion of the intervention, you should present clear options for treatment and have your loved one make a decision—right then and there. If he or she refuses treatment, everyone in the group must be willing to immediately act on the boundaries and consequences they previously outlined.

Additional Strategies to Get Your Loved One to Detox

Educate yourself – The more you know about your loved one’s addiction, the more clearly you will be able to see the problem and understand it. Addiction education can also help you maintain a compassionate and understanding tone when addressing your loved one directly about their addiction.

Use visual aids – An addicted person cannot see or think clearly because they are so consumed by thoughts about getting their next fix or having another drink. Sometimes a person just needs to visually see the person they have become as a result of their addiction. Show your loved one a video or photo of themselves while intoxicated or under the influence and use it to openly discuss how their behavior affects you and the other people in their life. Remind them of who they really are and compare that to what their addiction has turned them into.

Set clear boundaries – Oftentimes, family members of addicted individuals have to be willing to follow through on their promises to instill consequences. If your loved one refuses to go to detox, you may need to stop supporting them financially or ask that they find another place to live (if they are living in your home). Instead of making idle threats follow through on the boundaries you have set so they will have an incentive to seek treatment.

Resist the temptation to bribe – Bribery may seem like the easiest way to influence your loved one, but it will only encourage short-term behavioral changes. Lasting change comes from addressing the emotional, behavioral and mental aspects of a person’s addiction.

Providing Support Once a Decision Is Made

If your loved one makes the decision to enroll in detox, your job is certainly not done! Helping them enroll in an adequate treatment program should be your next priority. The National Institute on Drug Abuse created a simple guide for choosing appropriate substance abuse care that you can use to narrow down your options.

When searching for a detox program and continued care provider, ask yourself the following questions before deciding on a treatment program:

  1. Does this program use evidence-based treatment?
  2. Does this program provide individualized care?
  3. Does this program adapt to the client’s changing needs?
  4. Does this program provide treatment for an adequate amount of time?
  5. How does this program use the 12-step principles (or a similar program) to extend the effects of professional treatment?

If your loved one continues to refuse treatment, contact the admissions team at Hill Country Detox today. We can provide additional support and resources to help you encourage your loved one to get the treatment they need.



  1. https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD1112/PHD1112.pdf
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/ART-20047451?p=1
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-adult-friend-or-loved-one-has-problem-drugs
  4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/seeking-drug-abuse-treatment-know-what-to-ask/introduction
  5. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-adult-friend-or-loved-one-has-problem-drugs
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