Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab? When Interventions Fail

As more than 23 million Americans are dealing with drug addiction at any point in time, there are many ways to approach recovery. If you want to help a family member or friend who might be stubborn, you might wonder “can you force someone to go to rehab?” Well frankly, the answer is no, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do other things if your intervention fails.

Here are 9 things to do if an intervention fails and you’re left struggling to get your loved one the help they need.

1. Don’t Give Up

If you go through the trouble of putting together an intervention, you might be exhausted from all the effort. Even if you did everything right, it might not seem like anything at all has changed. The best interventions will end with a specific request that your loved one either sign up for a specific program or take another specific action.

Interventions can end with a drive to a rehab clinic moments after the intervention ends. Others are not as firm and will lead to a promise that your loved one might immediately break.

If they break their promise or refuse to go to treatment, don’t blame yourself. You went through the trouble of putting together an intervention out of love. It might take some time and even more work, but your loved one will eventually come around.

Brace yourself for what’s to come. Getting your loved one to go to another intervention might not be possible. In fact, it may have to get worse before it gets better.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to suffer as well. Following this guide will help you to prepare.

2. Make a Strong Case

Take a look at your intervention and scrutinize how things went down. Perhaps you let some people talk too much. Perhaps things got heated and people said some things that they regret.

Regardless of what happened, you now know what an intervention can look like so that you can learn for next time.

Next time, you need to make sure you make a stronger case. Look for where your loved one could have disputed their behavior and how their addiction has affected the family. Rather than trying to figure out what your loved one did wrong, learn about what you might have done wrong.

Instead of trying to plan for another intervention, you need to think about the next steps. However, in the event an opportunity presents itself to make another intervention, you need to know how to make your case stronger.

Be ready with a defense if your loved one tries to avoid an intervention. While they might not think they need one, you need to be ready to tell them why they need it.

3. Understand Their Perspective

One of the most important ways to think about this intervention is through the eyes of the person you’re dealing with. They have their reasons for falling into addiction. There’s something that keeps them going back even when things get bad.

What might have started as an escape from trouble or a fun adventure then becomes a biological need. Addiction can’t just be eliminated by removing the thing that someone is addicted to. Addiction changes the addict’s brain chemistry and the person’s reactions to the things around them.

If you don’t think about how your loved one is impacted on a day to day basis by their addiction, you’ll keep trying to get them to do things that they just can’t do. Pushing them to “just quit” isn’t possible when it could be dangerous. Quitting cold turkey might seem simple to you, but your body isn’t addicted to something the way their body is.

You also need to think about the ways that they are triggered to engage with their addiction on a regular basis. There are triggers that have to do with work stress, family life, or past trauma all around them. You need to find out what they are so that you can help them see past those triggers.

4. Try Another Approach

If your intervention didn’t work, you need to try another type of approach. An intervention only works if your loved one wants it to work. You need to find something that might appeal to what they want and need.

Try looking at ways that you could help them improve their life. If you’re going out on an outdoor adventure or spending a day hiking in the woods, that could break whatever pattern they’ve fallen into. Addictions are treated in a wide variety of ways, and breaking bad patterns is certainly one of the most useful approaches.

Give your loved one more reasons to leave their addiction behind. While they might know how their addiction impacts the people around them, perhaps realizing they can’t hike as far as they used to could wake them up. It’s hard to figure out what changes an addict’s behavior, so try different things.

Make sure you ask questions all along the way. One of the things that drives a wedge between addicts and their families is that families impose their perspective onto addicts. It’s hard to come to an understanding of why your loved one is acting the way they are, but do your best.

Sometimes just asking questions makes them feel heard enough to change.

5. Do More Research

If you feel like you don’t understand your loved one’s addiction, the truth is that you probably don’t. Addictions are complicated and unique. If you don’t understand your loved one’s addiction and you want to help them, it’s your responsibility to do some research.

Be wary of “one size fits all” solutions. There are no quick fixes to addiction. There are no shortcuts to getting better.

The only answer is hard work, and reality is that it could take years.

If you tried to get your loved one to go to a specific program, contact counselors there. If you fear they’ll lean into a sales pitch, look for addiction counselors in your region who specialize in what your loved one is going through.

Finding someone local is very important. In some rural areas, a combination of a local industrial plant closing and health epidemic could create a crisis. If the doctors or pharmacists in your region are feeding prescription painkillers to these vulnerable people, a local counselor will know all about it.

After dealing with some patients, they’ll know what typically works for people and can help you. While you might find some interesting articles on the internet, someone who has experience that closely matches your loved one’s experience is essential.

6. Make Some Ultimatums

You might find that you have to make some ultimatums to get your loved one to pay attention. These will take a wide variety of forms. They can be as broad as “we’re going to have trouble being there for you” to something as specific as “you will be taken out of the will“.

Every family’s situation will require a different approach. The important thing to remember is that you have to be firm and stand behind your words. If you back down, your loved one will expect that and won’t respect your approach.

Ultimatums are difficult to stand behind, so make sure yours aren’t as hard to get behind. Make your ultimatums as clear as possible so that you don’t have to back down or change them later on. Make ultimatums that aren’t harmful but still motivate your loved one.

If they rely on you for housing or for health insurance, you can’t take those things away. Things can always get worse, so don’t try to stoke those flames.

However, if you’re lending your goodwill, your money, and your time to your loved one and they’re abusing you, you can tell them to stop. If that means you have to cut them out of parts of your life, so be it. You can’t help them if you don’t have anything to help with.

7. Don’t Force Them

You can’t make someone go to rehab. As much as you feel like that’s the answer, forcing them is the worst thing you can do when you’re trying to get someone to improve their life. Making someone go to rehab will ensure that they don’t take it seriously.

They are more likely to leave, to make life difficult for the staff, and to waste your time and energy. Forcing someone to do something they’re not ready to do is never okay. Even if you’re sure it will save their life, forcing them into rehab will ruin your chance at getting them the help they need.

When you force someone to go into rehab, you’re going to be fighting against their intuition, their addiction, and even their brain chemistry. Addiction causes us to prioritize our addictions over everything else. When challenged, those addictions will fight back and risk damaging relationships with friends and loved ones.

8. Build A Strong Network

You and your loved one will benefit from building a strong network of people to help you with your next steps. If your intervention didn’t work, you might want to attempt another one.

You’ll be able to get everyone together to brainstorm on what would be good for your loved one. Rather than struggling to come up with answers on your own, the help of people who you know love that same person will help you build a strong bond. Together, you can ensure that you take an approach that will be productive and positive for the person you love.

The more important thing to do for one another is to all stay on the same message. It’s vital that you all work to assert the same thing over and over to your loved one who is struggling with addiction. If you change your approach or the action you want your loved one to take, make that change together.

If everyone in your loved one’s life is telling them the same thing, it’ll be much easier to get them to change.

Stay in communication and with each change in the situation, keep everyone informed. You’ll rely on one another to get your loved one the help they need, so make sure you’re always working together.

9. Protect Family Members and Children

While you’re coming up with a plan for helping your loved one, remember that there could be vulnerable family and children involved. If you’re a friend or family member of someone struggling with addiction, they could also be helping an elderly parent. Their negligence could have ramifications that reach beyond just your loved one’s life.

You need to also protect any children that are around. Negligence can have a seriously negative impact on children who aren’t old enough to know how to care for themselves.

Your next move might be to get the authorities involved. If you fear that children could be taken away and moved into foster care, you could get involved and take custody. If you fear they could fall into the hands of an abusive partner, step in and make sure the authorities know.

If part of the reason for your intervention is to help out vulnerable family members who your addicted friend or family member care for, don’t take risks. Get people involved who can step in and help.

Still Asking Can You Force Someone To Go To Rehab?

If you’re still wondering “can you force someone to go to rehab”, you need to let that battle go and prepare for the fight ahead. If you’ve tried to get them to go to rehab once and it didn’t work, you need to take on a different approach. Instead of telling your loved one what they need, why not try asking?

If you want to know more about what options are available to your loved one, check out our latest guide.