Addiction to an intoxicating substance changes the structure of the brain, leading to compulsive behaviors and a struggle to stop taking the drug. People who struggle with addiction have a chronic disease, and modern, evidence-based rehabilitation programs use scientifically proven treatments to help their clients safely detox from physical dependence on the drug. They then follow withdrawal with comprehensive therapy to help clients change their behaviors and stay sober.

Getting into a rehabilitation program is the most important step toward recovery; however, many people who struggle with addiction may be resistant to seeking help. They could be in denial about the extent of their problem or feel guilty and prefer to hide the problem from their loved ones. However, escalating physical, social, and financial problems will likely make their struggles apparent. Friends and family may wish that their loved one would get treatment but may not know the best way to convince them to reach out for that help.

How to Get a Loved One into a Rehabilitation Program

Simply talking to a loved one about concerns regarding substance abuse can be an important first step, but what is the best way to approach a loved one about substance abuse concerns?

Reality television shows have changed the dialogue about addiction treatment and its effectiveness, in some ways for the better. These shows often portray entering rehabilitation as a positive, helping those struggling with addiction get healthier and return to happy lives. However, the actual interventions portrayed on these shows are frequently emotional, unstructured, and even threatening. This kind of intervention is not a good way to talk to a loved one about worries and encourage them to seek help.

Essentially, an intervention is a meeting between a person struggling with addiction and an intervention team, made up of a professional, like an interventionist or a doctor, family, and friends. This group of people confronts the individual about their substance abuse problem and encourages them seek evidence-based treatment.

While an intervention may include stated, heartfelt concerns from loved ones about the individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health, becoming overly emotional can push the event off track, focusing on the pain caused to friends and family rather than helping the individual. In addition, it can increase the individual’s feelings of guilt, and this may cause the person to turn away from treatment. If they feel guilty, ashamed, or depressed, they may not feel like they deserve treatment.

While an intervention may include stated, heartfelt concerns from loved ones about the individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health, becoming overly emotional can push the event off track, focusing on the pain caused to friends and family rather than helping the individual. In addition, it can increase the individual’s feelings of guilt, and this may cause the person to turn away from treatment. If they feel guilty, ashamed, or depressed, they may not feel like they deserve treatment.

Instead, an intervention should express concerns but offer assistance. This includes presenting rehabilitation program options that are a good fit for the individual, and offering to help with paperwork, attend family therapy sessions, give financial assistance, and otherwise support the person in recovery. Knowing that they have support and care throughout the process of detox, rehabilitation, and recovery can make the person feel capable of taking that first step.

Interventions also mean setting boundaries. For example, in an intervention, family members may state that they will no longer give the person money or make excuses for them at work or school. Instead, the person must seek treatment and become drug-free; they won’t be protected from the consequences of their substance abuse any longer. The message and outlined consequences should be expressed clearly; the tone can be gentle but the message is strong.

Interventions from Other Sources

If friends and family do not stage an intervention, a person struggling with substance abuse may have other people in their life intervene. This may involve a simple conversation at an appointment or other meeting.

    These individuals may talk to the individual about the need for rehab:

  • A physician who notices physical harm caused by the addiction
  • An intervention specialist hired by family or friends
  • A case manager, social worker, or emergency room doctor after the individual is admitted for overdose
  • A counselor at a school
  • Human resources (HR) employees at work

Getting help to overcome substance abuse is essential, not just to one’s physical health, but to one’s career, family, friends, and mental health. Finding the right rehabilitation program may feel like a challenge, but there are plenty of options available, and friends, family, therapists, doctors, and other professionals are available to help.