How to Help an Addict Who Refuses to Go to Rehab

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It’s hard to watch your loved one suffer from addiction. In a perfect world, they would be accepting of the help you offer them. Unfortunately, it is more common for individuals suffering from substance abuse issues to deny that they have a problem, making them feel as if addiction treatment is not necessary.

When your loved one is refusing to go to rehab, it is hard to understand how to help them. All you want to do is provide them with the support they need to recover, but they are refusing the help you are offering. So what can you do?

If your loved one refuses to go to rehab, the first thing you should do is become educated on addiction. Additionally, staging an intervention is a route you may want to consider when your loved one is in denial about the severity of their substance abuse.

Why Do People Refuse Addiction Treatment?

Most of the time, fear is the underlying reason that addicts refuse professional help. Feelings of denial, confusion and the urge to resist vulnerability all play a role in why your loved one may be avoiding addiction treatment. Additionally, many people who struggle with substance abuse are worried about the physical and emotional effects they will experience upon losing their vices.

The most common reasons addicts refuse support include:

  • They do not believe they have a problem because they are in denial
  • They are afraid to endure the detoxification process
  • They’re afraid of changing
  • They think they will fail and let everyone they love down
  • They do not want to be vulnerable and unpack the trauma that has caused their addiction
  • They want to keep using drugs and alcohol to cope with distressing situations like unemployment, abuse, neglect, relationship issues, or past traumas
  • They’re embarrassed and afraid of being shunned or ridiculed by others for their addiction due to stigmas and misconceptions about the disease

Whatever your loved one’s reasons for refusing help, there are ways to convince them otherwise. Offering them support, setting boundaries, ending enabling behaviors, and staging an intervention can create an environment in which your loved one feels comfortable accepting help from a rehab center.

How Can I Convince My Loved One to Go to Rehab if They are Refusing Help?

Addiction is a complex disorder and it often stems from untreated mental health issues, unresolved childhood trauma, or other unfortunate life circumstances. Knowing what to do to help your loved one overcome a substance use disorder can be difficult for this reason. Thankfully, there are tips and tricks you can use to make this process easier for you, your addicted loved one, and the entire family.

Educate Yourself on Addiction

First things first, you must become educated on addiction. While you have seen how it makes your loved one behave, you are probably not aware of why they cannot stop using substances. This can be a hard concept to grasp, especially when you have watched them suffer from so many consequences as a result of their substance abuse.

The truth is, that addiction changes the brain. It causes people’s brains to be rewired to associate substances with pleasure and reward.[1] This leads to compulsive substance abuse, where your loved one is unable to quit despite suffering from social, emotional, financial, and physical consequences of addiction. Remember, your loved one who refuses to go to rehab may not be in the clearest state of mind.

Offer Support Without Enabling

Once you are aware of how addiction works and how it is affecting your loved one’s behavior, you should begin looking at how you interact with your loved one. It is common for family members of addicts to unconsciously enable their loved one’s addiction.

Enabling is defined as helping someone in such a way that it perpetuates the problem rather than solving it. If you are wondering whether you are enabling your loved one, consider these examples of enabling behaviors associated with addiction:

  • Providing your loved one with money during their addiction
  • Downplaying the severity of their problem
  • Covering for them when they get in trouble (i.e. covering for them when they miss work or hiring lawyers to deal with their legal consequences)
  • Rationalizing their behavior or making excuses for them
  • Prioritizing their needs before your own

Knowing how to support your addicted loved one without enabling them is a difficult concept to grasp. Here are some examples of supportive behavior that does not enable their addiction:

  • Participating in family therapy with them
  • Taking them to self-groups like AA or NA
  • Educating and encouraging them about recovery programs and treatment options
  • Allowing them to experience the consequences of their addiction
  • Staging an intervention

Hire a Drug and Alcohol Interventionist

Lastly, the best thing you can do to help an addict who refuses to go to rehab is to hire a licensed interventionist. They can help you stage an intervention while avoiding all of the common mistakes people make when they attempt to hold an intervention on their own.

An intervention is a process that includes the family members of an addict gathering together to read statements to the addict about how their addiction has impacted the family. This is done to emotionally appeal to the addict in hopes of convincing them to attend addiction treatment. Because this process can cause your addicted loved one to become defensive, irate, or feel attacked, hiring a professional who knows how to navigate these situations is of the utmost importance.

Find Help for an Addicted Loved One Today

If your loved one is continually refusing addiction treatment, it’s time to consider an intervention. Interventions are delicate processes that require careful planning and extensive knowledge of the disease of addiction, so it is always best to hire a specialist who can help you create the most effective intervention process possible.

Our addiction specialists will help you and your family stage an intervention and convince your loved one to seek professional help. Our innovative and solution-based techniques will help guide your loved one to the drug and alcohol rehab facility that will best meet their individual needs. We will be with you every step of the way. If you or a loved one is in need of addiction resources for drugs and alcohol in Edison, New Jersey, contact us today for an assessment.



Medically Reviewed: September 13, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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