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10 Steps to Take if an Alcoholic or Addict Refuses Treatment

Posted on November 8, 2022

10 Steps to Take if an Alcoholic or Addict Refuses Treatment

Unfortunately, millions of people who are suffering from an addiction issue do not seek treatment each year.

This could be for a number of different reasons, from not accepting that there is an issue in the first place, from feeling too anxious to attend to simply not being able to afford or gain access to their treatment.

However, for the majority of sufferers, seeking treatment for your addiction is the only way to recover in the long run.

If you are a friend or family member supporting someone who is suffering from an addiction issue, then trying to motivate them to seek treatment can be a particularly challenging, upsetting and difficult time, both for you and for them.

There are a number of misconceptions and myths when it comes to addiction, which can be unhelpful when it comes to your idea of addiction and how you might help them.

At Rehab Recovery, we know that this is a tough time. That is why we have created a list of helpful tips and advice below on what to do if your loved one is refusing to seek treatment.

1. Be Ready to Admit That There is a Problem

Two people having a conversation

Unfortunately, it isn’t only those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol who refuse to admit that there is a problem.

Denying that your loved one has a problem isn’t helping you, those around you, or the loved one who is suffering from the addiction.

Some people might never have dealt with someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol, and due to their lack of experience in the subject matter, they might refuse that there is a problem in the first place.

In order to help your loved one, you will have to be ready to admit that there is a problem. By bringing yourself round to the idea of help and treatment, you are then in a position to help, support and advise them.

If you need help admitting that there is a problem in the first place, then speak to a member of the Rehab Recovery team for advice and support. Alternatively, you can visit an Al Anon family group meeting.

During these meetings, you will attend group meetings with other people who are supporting someone suffering from an addiction.

These meetings will help you to understand addiction, whilst helping you to overcome your denial and understand what your loved one is going through.

2. Hold an Intervention

Open conversation

One of the very first and best things you can do to help someone addicted to drugs and alcohol is to hold an intervention.

An intervention is a way of motivating an individual to see the error of their ways and get the help that they need.

An intervention is a planned meeting where you express your concern to the individual. You should always use examples of their behaviour, and explain why this type of behaviour makes you feel worried.

During an intervention, you should always try to use open and calm language and should avoid trying to make the individual feel judged in any way. Making an individual feel self-conscious and judged about their addiction will only push them away further into their addiction.

You should also try to hold your intervention in a private and quiet space so that the individual does not feel embarrassed by other people being around and listening to your conversation. This will only make them shut off and want to leave.

Instead, try booking out a private community centre for a few hours, or hold the intervention at home or in your garden with a cup of tea and some biscuits.

You should also consider inviting any intervention specialist to your intervention. They are able to guide you on what to say and what to avoid saying before your intervention, and will even sometimes offer to attend the intervention with you on the day for additional help and support.

If you are unsure of what to say and how to say it, you should follow the CRAFT approach to interventions.

CRAFT stands for Community Reinforcement and Family Training and advises loved ones and family members on what to say to the individual suffering from an addiction.

When holding an intervention, it is also important and advised that you highlight the potential treatment option for them in their area, so that they know that help is local and available to them if they do want it.

There are a number of treatment options listed below in this article, which include cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy, one-to-one therapy and motivational interviewing.

When it comes down to it, you can only advise your loved one on what to do. Whether they listen or not is ultimately down to them.

However, by holding an intervention you are a lot more likely to convince them to see the error of their ways and seek help for their addiction.

3. Educate Yourself on Addiction

Person researching on laptop

Before you hold an intervention, it is also important to educate yourself in addiction and addiction treatment.

In order to help them, you will need to understand addiction on an educational level.

Whilst every addiction is different, there are a number of different warning signs, treatment options and aftercare and support techniques that can be used when someone is suffering from an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

You will also need to understand any withdrawal symptoms, recovery techniques and any other techniques and things that you can do to support an individual who is suffering from an addiction.

Not only is this good to know, but by educating yourself you will be putting yourself in a much better position to hold a strong and convincing intervention.

There are a number of different ways you can do this.

For example, you can go to a number of different Al Anon support groups which will advise you on how to support your loved one, whilst offering you support and help for yourself.

Whilst attending a support group for someone else’s addiction might be an intense experience, it will not only help to educate yourself on their addiction, but it will also give you an insight into what therapy and support groups are like.

When it comes to addiction, knowledge is power. In order to help and support your loved one, you will need to put this knowledge into use and into practice.

If you want more knowledge on addiction, then speak to a member of the Rehab Recovery team for advice and support on 0800 088 66 86.

Our friendly and helpful team will be able to educate you on the ins and outs of addiction, whilst pointing you in the right direction for further advice and support.

4. Stop Funding Their Addiction Financially

Man on the phone

When you know someone who is suffering from an addiction, it is often difficult to know what to say and what to do. Often, you might find yourself unwillingly promoting their addiction, without wanting or trying to.

However, lots of people who live with or know an addict sometimes find themselves funding their addiction. Often, the individual will put a lot of pressure on a loved one to convince them to fund their addiction.

In addition to this, they might threaten the individual, or make them feel guilty for not helping them and allowing them to suffer from the dreadful withdrawal symptoms.

If you know someone who is struggling from an addiction, then you just want to see them happy and healthy. As a result of this, you might be funding and facilitating their addiction without meaning to.

There are a number of ways you can fund and facilitate someone’s addiction. For example, you might find yourself making excuses for them, calling in sick for work, or even providing them with money when they run out to buy alcohol and drugs. Guilt plays a huge part in this.

Sometimes, this results in people feeling stressed and trapped into helping an individual. However, it simply does not need to be this way.

Whether you believe it or not, there are safe ways to stop facilitating your loved one’s addiction without causing arguments or fallouts, or making their addiction worse.

You should sit down and express your concerns clearly to the individual in the form of intervention. During this intervention, you should make it clear that you will no longer be funding their addiction in any way shape or form.

5. Offer Your Love and Support

Two friends supporting eachother

This might seem like an obvious suggestion. However, when someone you love starts to act in a way you do not like or starts to do things that you do not agree with, then it is often easy to retreat and pull away from the individual.

You might believe that you have to be ‘cruel to be kind’ and that if you go down harsh on them, they might see the error of their ways and seek help and treatment. However, this simply is not the case.

When someone is suffering from an addiction, they will feel lonely, anxious, stressed and judged. Therefore, they do not need you to add to these emotions. If you do, they will only pull away from you and avoid you.

In order to make the individual feel valued, loved, supported and worthy, you must show them how much you love them and want to support them throughout this challenging time.

Once you start to act more positively and lovingly around the individual who is suffering, you will start to see a positive change in their behaviour and relationship.

Why not try to organise some quality time together, go for a nice long walk or a meal out together?

Alternatively, you can ask them for a chat, where you express your love and support. You can also opt to write them a letter to express your concern, love and how much you want to support them.

6. When All Else Fails, Don’t Result in Using Guilt

Three people looking uncomfortable

When someone is suffering from an addiction, it is incredibly easy to use guilt as a tactic for evoking change.

However, numerous studies have now shown that using guilt as a way of trying to motivate and convince someone is simply unhealthy and unproductive [1].

It is often very easy for individuals to turn to techniques and tactics such as using ultimatums, lectures or guilt tactics to try to get what you want.

However, you should always try to avoid these techniques where you can, as they will often drive a wedge between you both.

Making an individual feel guilt and shame about their addiction is very common and is also a key contributing factor to a lot of dual diagnoses’ within the addiction community. Therefore, by making your loved one feel guilty and ashamed of their addiction, you might actually only be contributing to a mental health problem, which will only make the individual’s addiction worse in the long run.

Instead, try to use more positive and helpful language, and never make it all about you and your emotions.

Understand that addiction is not a moral failing, but a disease of the brain. Therefore, you should not resort to making the individual feel guilty about their addiction and current situation [2].

7. Use Positive Reinforcements Every Day

Spaghetti meal

When someone is addicted to alcohol and drugs, they abuse because they want to feel some form of pleasure.

Often, due to an increased tolerance in those addicted to drugs and alcohol, individuals find themselves ‘chasing’ the high that they once felt. As a result of this, their day-to-day lives feel more negative and depressing than ever.

In order to combat these negative emotions, you will need to use positive reinforcements. You should also avoid negative reinforcements, as these make individuals feel even more depressed, anxious and pressured into changing than they might already feel.

According to the American Psychological Association, positive reinforcements are when someone increases the likelihood of doing something due to the behaviour and outcome producing favourable results [3].

Positive reinforcements are a great way of encouraging the right kind of behaviour.

Positive reinforcements do not need to be some grand plan or extravagant reinforcement. These can be rewards such as a nice, healthy meal, a night out in the cinema or a nice takeaway on a Friday night.

Positive reinforcements should be brought in when the individual is trying to reach a certain goaland should be used when that goal is achieved.

Whilst the idea of achieving recovery might seem out of reach, by setting small goals which are rewarded through positive reinforcements, you are making your recovery much more achievable, step by step.

8. Let Go Of Any Preconceptions


Believe it or not, addiction is a disease of the brain. This means that addiction is not a moral failing, and should be taken very seriously.

This might help to break down any preconceptions that you might have when it comes to addiction, as many people have a lot of opinions and preconceptions when it comes to addiction from the media, film and TV.

Despite what you might think, addiction is incredibly easy to fall victim to and is extremely hard to quit when you want to.

Below are some more myths and preconceptions that people have when it comes to addiction:

“Addiction is just a case of willpower, if they wanted to stop then they would”

However, the reality is that an addiction changes the way the brain works, and changes the way the brain functions and sees rewards. As a result of this, their ability to make decisions and control their actions decreases. This makes it incredibly difficult to simply stop whenever they want to.

“Addiction only affects certain people, surely I’m immune to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol”

Again, this is simply not the case. Addiction does not discriminate and anyone can become addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Despite common misconception, lots of people with a full-time job, a house of their own, a family and a friendship group can become addicted to alcohol and drugs easily.

“In order to get better you have to hit rock bottom”

Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest misconceptions regarding addiction. In fact, this can result in some very dangerous consequences.

By leaving your addiction too long without seeking help, it will simply get worse. You could even be putting your life at risk by doing this.

“In order to recover I just need a detox”

Again, this is not the case, Whilst it is true that many people who are addicted to certain drugs will need a medical, physical detox, individuals will also need to undergo therapy and other forms of treatment in order to recover fully from their addiction.

“If you relapse then there is no hope for you.”

It is important not to be too discouraged if you relapse from drugs and alcohol, and this certainly does not mean that your treatment and chances of a full and long-term recovery are over.

A relapse is simply a momentary setback, and you can always try again after a detox and other forms of treatment.

“People with an addiction need to be punished until they see the error of their ways”

This is not the case. In fact, by punishing someone with an addiction for their addiction, you might be pushing them away and further into their addiction.

It is important to remember that their brain has changed due to the addiction, and if they lie, steal or cheat then this is simply an effect and consequence of their addiction; and not something that they should be punished for, for the rest of their life.

In order to truly help the individual, you must let go of any preconceptions that might exist and go in with an open mind.

Unfortunately, a lot of people get defensive over their preconceptions about addiction. For example, lots of people try to deny that they are wrong, blame others and project their own feelings and issues onto other people.

If you start to educate yourself on your addiction, then you will often find that your preconceptions melt away and you will grow to develop an informed understanding about addiction and everything that comes with it.

9. Highlight That Actions Have Consequences

Strict conversation

It is important to set clear and strict boundaries with the individual regarding what they are allowed to do in recovery, and what they are not allowed to do. It is also highly important to be sure that you follow up on any broken rules with actions and consequences.

Lots of people who struggle with an addiction tend to ignore the consequences of their actions, as they see their addiction as more important. As a result of this, they overstep their boundaries a lot and start to see consequences as empty threats.

Therefore, it is highly important to follow up any actions and broken rules with clear consequences. This might include taking away any treats, privileges or day to day things like eating with the family or group of friends.

If it comes to it, you might need to find some alternative housing or accommodation for your loved one, especially if you live with someone who might be vulnerable to their actions and the consequences of their addiction, such as children.

However, it is important to note that when doing so, you need to stay calm, respectable and pleasant. You need to ensure they feel loved, but understand that they cannot break promises or rules like this without experiencing the consequences.

In order to help you to explain this, it is helpful for the individual to know why these rules are in place in the first place, and why they are so important to their health and their recovery journey.

10. Make Treatment Readily Available for Them


If a loved one is suffering from an addiction, then it is important that you have a range of different treatment options ready and easily available to them. This is why it is important to educate yourself on the different types of rehab facilities and treatment options in your area before your intervention.

It is important to have these readily available to the individual, so that if they ask for treatment help, then you can offer them a solution straight away.

Going to addiction treatment can be an extremely anxiety-inducing time, which might seem scary and intimidating at first. This is why you should try to make your loved one feel calm and in control during this part of the process.

There are lots of different types of addiction treatment, which includes outpatient rehab treatment, inpatient rehab treatment, a home detox, holistic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, one to one therapy, group therapy and family therapy.

By telling them about these types of treatments ahead of time, they will have more time to come around to the idea of treatment and will be a lot more likely to engage in treatment options.

If you know someone who is suffering from an addiction and who is refusing to seek treatment and help, then you should speak to a member of the team at Rehab Recovery for help and support.

Our friendly and professional team will help you to find ways to motivate your loved one into seeking treatment, whilst providing you with the support you need to feel motivated and positive enough to help your loved one to recover.

You can get the help you both need today by calling Rehab Recovery for free on 0800 088 66 89 or by visiting our website online at for free advice and support.





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