What to Do When an Addict Refuses Treatment?

As you watch the person you care about battle addiction, it’s understandable to believe you know what’s best. You may even feel strongly about getting them into treatment because you recognize the risks if they continue on their current path, and know they can take steps to interrupt their addiction and head toward recovery. What can you do when your loved one won’t get treatment? When an addict refuses treatment, there are specific steps you can take to help get them on track. 

Addict Refuses Treatment
Early intervention is the best way to ensure your loved ones get the proper, timely help they need.

Why Would an Addict Refuse Treatment? 

There are a number of reasons why an addict won’t get help for a drug problem, but they usually come down to one thing: fear. Given the threats that accompany a lifestyle of addiction, then, why do addicts refuse to consider addiction treatment as an alternative? Addicts and alcoholics are usually the last ones to recognize that their use is a problem, and when confronted, one of the biggest reasons why an addict won’t get help is because he or she insists that they don’t have one. As well, one of the reasons why an addict refuses treatment is because they feel like, given the right circumstances, they can “fix” their problems.

Another big reason why an addict refuses treatment is because they’re under the mistaken impression that detox is just that: withdrawal without any comfort or support. The reality is that’s the furthest thing from the truth when it comes to a drug and alcohol treatment facility. Safe medical detox programs use comfort medication and clinical protocols to manage withdrawal symptoms, keeping patients as comfortable as possible throughout the detox and recovery process.

If you’re a family member, loved one, or friend of someone who needs treatment yet refuses to get help, you may have heard one or all of these reasons. There are methods you can use, however, to talk to someone about alcoholism or addiction. 

If Your Loved One Refuses Treatment

The goal, of course, is to encourage the individual to get the help they need and to slowly overcome the reasons why an addict refuses treatment. 

It’s not an easy process, but then again, addiction is a complex disease that requires patience and understanding above all else. Unlike someone with a physical health condition, a person with an addiction might not recognize the true danger of their illness or understand the risks of not treating it.

Educate Yourself on Why an Addict Refuses Treatment

Find out what they’re going through on an educational level. While every single addiction is different, and potentially more harrowing than what you may find online, withdrawal symptoms and other synonymous aspects tend to go with their coupled addictions. It can help you prepare for the future and keep your eyes out for any signs of potential overdose.

More than that, it’s also a key component in validating your stance in an intervention down the road. If you know nothing about what your loved one is going through, it’s very difficult to understand the magnitude of the situation from a third-party perspective. Do the research, and understand the specific drug or alcohol issues that your loved one is going through in order to better understand their place in all of this.

Identify Where in the Situation You Are

There are different stages of addiction. It’s difficult to determine exactly where your loved one resides. It makes a difference between being able to talk one-on-one with them and realizing that they are too far gone. If you can determine where they are in their addiction, it’s going to be beneficial. By taking a step back and looking at the last few weeks or months of events, you’ll be able to better determine what the next steps to take. 

Start With The Medical Approach

When someone is in the grip of addiction, their clarity quickly withers away. Suggest or schedule a routine check-up appointment. Inform the doctor of the addiction prior to the visit, and do so for multiple reasons. They’ll be better able to identify the issues and see past the excuses of the individual.

Offer Support

Let the person know that you are there for them no matter what. It’s very easy to have a conversation with someone and keep the subject matter silent, while both of you know what’s going on. By avoiding bringing it up in direct words or unveiling anger, you’re showing them that you’re not being judgmental and that you just want to help. When an addict refuses treatment, starting small is always the best choice for a successful outcome. 


Set Limits and Avoid Enabling

Often, people struggling with a drug addiction want help but not recovery. They may ask for financial assistance, comfort, or a place to stay. While you may wish to assist them, setting limits is essential.

Enabling someone’s addiction can take many forms, almost all of them well-meaning. Some examples include:


  • Offering cash
  • Offering a place to stay
  • Offering to help hide the addiction from friends, family, or co-workers
  • Paying bills that they misplace, forget, or ignore
  • Picking up their slack if they are a co-worker
  • Giving them rides to or from locations that are clearly not related to school or work

This could be beneficial in the short term, but it will ultimately hinder their desire to seek true recovery and sobriety.

Get Help for Yourself

Just because your loved one refuses treatment, doesn’t mean you can’t get help yourself. It is not easy to live with addiction. Even if you’re not the one abusing drugs or alcohol. If you’re dealing with an addict who refuses treatment, you are not alone. however. 

Al-Anon and Narc-Anon are 12-step programs designed for those with loved ones who are addicts. In addition to group support, consider family or individual therapy. Learning about addiction and abuse will also help you understand what your loved one is going through, and how to help him or her better.

A Word from Harmony Ridge Recovery Center – What to Do When Your Loved One Won’t Get Treatment

We understand you are probably at your wit’s end and feel as though you have tried everything you can think of to make your loved one stop. But you can’t make an addict stop using. No amount of threats will change them. If you’re concerned about what to do when an addict refuses treatment, you can rely on trusted professionals as support. 

Harmony Ridge offers comprehensive and specialized substance abuse treatment to support individuals on their journey toward lasting recovery and improved well-being. Our recovery specialists are standing by 24/7 to help you or your loved one.

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