Our Blog

What to do When a Loved One Refuses Addiction Treatment

What can you do when your loved one refuses addiction treatment but struggles with a substance use disorder? This common dilemma can be frustrating for everyone involved because the commitment to treatment is an essential component of treatment. Friends and family desperate to have their loved one recover from a substance use disorder are consumed with worry. Developing a plan to avoid feelings of helplessness can bring a positive light to the situation. 

Unfortunately, families in this situation feel alone and do not know who to consult when a loved one refuses treatment. Professionals admit that self-motivation is often the essential ingredient for success in recovery. In some states, it is possible to force someone into treatment, but taking time to evaluate the situation further can be helpful. In addition, listening to the reasoning behind your loved one’s refusal of treatment could be revealing and a starting point for a plan of action. 

Methods of communication can be highly instrumental in answering objections when a loved one refuses treatment. First, using good listening skills will identify objections. Next, let compassion guide your interpretations. Then continuing the conversation without using judgments and condescending tones is a favorite ingredient for fruitful negotiations for treatment. Finally, providing a solid support system for your loved one to lean on can lead to a change of heart. 

Common Reasons for Refusal of Treatment

When a loved one refuses treatment for a substance use disorder, the support system must understand the connection established with the substance. Separating from the substance seems impossible for your loved one. There is a tight bond between your loved one and the substance. Understanding all the possibilities will help the support team understand what is behind the refusal of help.

Denial of addiction is another reason your loved one refuses treatment. Usually, a person with a substance use disorder experiences many unresolved feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, and failure. Taking a chance to enter treatment can feel like an opportunity that only offers another possibility of intensifying these feelings. Making validating statements when a loved one refuses treatment can be a foundation of trust. 

Lastly, co-occurring mental health disorders could be a hindrance when a loved one refuses treatment. The symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions can get in the way of positive choices. In addition, there are stigmas surrounding mental disorders that can interfere with treatment acceptance of any kind. Understanding these factors in refusing treatment can help the support system with objections and let go of their negative suppositions.  

Forming a Plan of Action 

Recognizing your role as a support system when a loved one refuses treatment is the first step in forming a plan of action. Assessing the situation will depend on the length and seriousness of the risk of self-harm. Next, each family member must assess their role in the continuing substance use disorder. Accountability is paramount in this step for everyone in the support system. 

The following questions are essential when recognizing individual connections with the loved one’s substance use disorder. 

  • Are you responsible for allowing your loved one to live in your house while using drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you provide your loved one with money to purchase drugs or alcohol?
  • Are you covering up or standing by in denial of your loved one’s behaviors, lack of responsibility and accountability, or compounding negative consequences?

Remove Your Enabling Habits

After taking a self-assessment within the support system, it’s time to take action when a loved one refuses treatment. Leading by example and being accountable for your actions will set the environment for future progress. After answering questions that may prove your behavior has enabled the substance use disorder, it’s time to set some boundaries. Ending enabling behaviors may seem harsh, but it doesn’t mean you don’t love your family member with an addiction. 

Removing enabling habits can be done through the following actions:

  • Do not make any excuses for their substance abuse
  • Do not provide money or pay for anything they are responsible for, like rent, bills, or groceries
  • Do not provide alcohol or drugs
  • Do not hide the substance use disorder from anyone
  • Do not participate in working for your loved one

Once the boundaries have been set, the support team must adhere to their decision and follow up with the guidelines and consequences. For example, the following consequences will occur when your loved one refuses treatment. This step is painful and challenging, but there must be a change, or your words will be empty. A support change will make your loved one realize you will no longer support the substance use and will now be held accountable for their decisions to continue using or accept treatment. 

Following through with the examples must occur, or everything will stay the same. Examples of setting boundaries and consequences can be any of the following:

  • Refuse to allow driving privileges with your car
  • Remove all drugs and alcohol from the home and disallow use in the home
  • If you see drug or alcohol use, you will contact the authorities
  • If your loved one refuses treatment, then you will no longer allow them to live in your home

Consider an Intervention

The support team can consider the intervention option when your loved one refuses treatment if nothing else seems to work. The family or support team can consult a professional treatment interventionist to make this event happen. It is challenging to love someone who does not accept help with treatment.

Steps involved in performing an intervention can include the following:

  • Find a qualified professional interventionist, social worker, or doctor for guidance. 
  • Put together the intervention team with members of the support team, family, and friends
  • Design a plan and set a specific date, time, and place.
  • Become educated about substance use disorders, addiction, mental health disorders, and treatment. Learn about detox and rehab.
  • Ask all participants in the intervention to write out an impact statement. People should state how their loved one’s substance use disorder affects them. The statement should be an emotionally honest plea to accept help.
  • Offer treatment to your loved one.
  • Set boundaries and consequences. Also, be clear about what will happen if treatment is not accepted.
  • Hold a rehearsal to be sure everyone is clear on how the intervention will proceed and discuss having too many expectations. 
  • Follow up and maintain behaviors to support the consequences of breaking boundaries.
  • Manage expectations. While television nearly always shows the person at the center of the intervention accepting help, this is only sometimes the case in real life. Even with a well-planned intervention and special offers of help, the individual may only accept help for some reasons. If they do not, then follow through on the outlined consequences.
  • Follow up. Whether the person accepts help or not, it is vital to uphold statements made during the intervention. Otherwise, the person may experience excessive stress, which could slow their rehabilitation process, lead to relapse, or deepen substance abuse problems.

Find Help When Your Loved One Refuses Treatment

Watching a loved one struggle with a substance use disorder is a challenging situation to be in. When a loved one refuses treatment, it can be discouraging and frustrating and cause significant emotional distress. Tennessee Valley Recovery near Konxville provides a professional and stable environment for your loved one to receive treatment.

Contact us today to receive support and help during this difficult time.