How Do I Convince Someone to Get Treatment for Addiction?

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Rehabilitation treatment can be extremely effective in helping individuals recover from addiction. Sometimes, it can be difficult for someone to realize that treatment would be a beneficial choice, and they need the help of their loved ones in order to do so.

According to the NIDA, “Family and friends can play critical roles in motivating individuals with drug problems to enter and stay in treatment.” There are many ways in which you can convince someone to get treatment for addiction.

Have a One-on-One Conversation

In some cases, especially for those who are spouses of addicts or share another type of incredibly close relationship, having a one-on-one conversation about the fact that you think your loved one needs help for their addiction can be beneficial. This is often successful when the individual has not been using drugs for very long, is abusing less severe substances (not drugs like crack or methamphetamine), and is possibly beginning to realize that their drug addiction is harming them and as well as others.

If you do choose to have a conversation with the individual where you tell them your feelings about their addiction and that you believe they should seek help, make sure to remain calm and non-confrontational at all times. Even someone who has not been addicted for long may become hostile or upset when their loved ones express concern over their behavior. Attempt to avoid an argument at all costs.

This method works best in very specific situations, but it is worth trying if you believe your loved one will be receptive to it. Just remember to stay supportive and to avoid being combative or accusatory as much as possible.

Stage an Intervention

If you believe talking to the person on your own will not be beneficial, you can stage an intervention. “A more focused approach is often needed” to help someone realize that they need help, which is why people stage interventions (UNT).

Usually, these meetings consist of about five or six of the individual’s closest friends and/or family members and a professional interventionist. Those who are asked to attend the intervention should be level-headed and able to discuss only what is planned beforehand. The interventionist can help lead the meeting, give it credibility in the eyes of the addicted individual, and ensure that one way or another, the meeting is followed by some sort of change (either on the part of the addict or those included to help).

Successful interventions help convince addicted individuals to attend treatment by

  • Showing them that a number of close friends, family members, and loved ones are concerned for their health and well-being
  • Allowing them to see that many individuals care about them deeply and want to see them recover
  • Providing consequences in the event that the individual chooses not to seek treatment and helping to enforce them
  • Making the person realize that their continued addictive behavior will no longer be tolerated by their loved ones
  • Forcing them to stop denying their addiction and, ideally, face the fact that they need help

In addition, an intervention “offers a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals and guidelines.” Those choosing to plan an intervention are expected to already know the treatment plan they want their loved one to start before the intervention takes place; this way, the individual is more likely to attend without the possibility of backing out during a long search for the right facility or program.

Give Ultimatums

Unfortunately, this can often be part of the process of helping convince someone to seek treatment, especially if they do not seem receptive to calm conversations about their need for it. Ultimatums are given in the terms of consequences, which will be implemented if the individual does not follow through with the treatment plan given to them.

Some possible consequences include:

  • Restricting the person’s right to see their children
  • Refusing to enable the individual’s behavior in any way (for example, no longer agreeing to give them money)
  • Asking that they move out
  • Telling them you will not see them until they seek treatment

It may seem harsh, but these types of decisions can start to get through to someone who may not have been able to admit previously that they have a problem. Addiction can cause people to feel that the behavior or substance they are addicted to is the most important thing, but once they lose the other important aspects of their lives, they may realize how untrue that is.

Promise Your Support – And Deliver

According to the NIH, “Friends and family can help” a person attend addiction treatment, “even when someone doesn’t want it.” One way to ensure this is to promise that you will support the individual once they agree to attend treatment. Then, just like with the consequences you implement, you must be willing to deliver when asked to fulfill your promise.

Ways in which you can help support someone once they decide to attend treatment include:

  • Helping them find a job if they are in need of one
  • Allowing them to stay with you or helping find them somewhere to stay
  • Agreeing to drive them to and from the treatment center
  • Visiting whenever possible
  • Attending family or couples therapy sessions with the individual
  • Keeping track of their sobriety with them and helping them celebrate when they reach an important milestone
  • Offering to listen and be there for them whenever you are able

Your support can be the most convincing aspect of your plea for someone to attend treatment. Letting them know that they aren’t alone can give them motivation to change, to build a stronger recovery. And the more you support them after they’ve made the decision to attend treatment, the more they will continue to make better choices.

It isn’t easy to help someone realize that they need treatment for addiction. However, there are many plans that help strengthen the possibility of safe, positive interactions. Make sure you think about your loved one and their situation before deciding on the best method of convincing them to seek help.