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9 Things to Do When Your Loved One Refuses Help

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When our loved ones are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is normal to want to help, or “save” them. We can offer our loved one help, but they don’t always take it, which often puts us in uncomfortable or upsetting situations. Check out these 9 things you can do when a loved one is refusing treatment for their substance abuse!

1. Follow through on any consequences or boundaries you set

When your loved one is given the option to get help, you should have boundaries and consequences in place for if/when they decline any treatment options you provided them. The most important thing to do when your loved one declines help, is to stick to any consequences or boundaries you set. If you told them they could not live with you unless they accepted help, it is important that you hold the line and ask them to leave. If you allow them to stay, without repercussion, they will not take your word seriously and continue to cross any lines or boundaries you draw out. Holding your ground could change the trajectory of their life, and catapult them into recovery.

Offering our loved one's support and treatment is the only way we can really help them through their addiction, but what if they say no?

2. Recognize your role

What role have you played, if any, in their addiction? Have you given them money? Bailed them out? Lied for them? Whatever role you may have played, whether enabler or savior, it is important to stop. Realize that you didn’t cause this, but you may have helped in perpetuating it. You can’t fix this, but you can fix your side of the street.

3. Stop enabling

Enabling is when you allow/validate/permit/authorize someone’s behavior through your own behavior, actions or inactions. Enabling someone’s addiction could mean giving them money, a place to live, or even ignoring that their using is a problem. This behavior must stop if you want to actually help your loved one.

Enabling someone’s addiction could mean giving them money, a place to live, or even ignoring that their using is a problem. This behavior must stop if you want to actually help your loved one.

4. Prepare for their reaction

Your loved one may be angry when you set clear boundaries and do not change them to appease their addiction. This is totally normal and totally okay. Their anger has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. Allow them to feel however they may feel, say what they need (as long as it is not harmful towards you or themselves) and accept where they are at. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

5. Educate yourself

Learning more about addiction, alcoholism and recovery can help you be more compassionate and understanding, as well as teach you about the different side effects and withdrawal symptoms you need to be on the lookout for. Learning about recovery can also help you understand the process your loved one is going through.

6. Be patient

Recovery is a process, for your loved one and for yourself. Being patient can help your loved one feel understood and safe. It is equally important to be patient with yourself as you move through the process with them, whatever that may be.

7. Encourage them

Encouraging your loved one to get help is important, it can bring both of you closer together and can remind them that you are on their side.

8. Plan an intervention

If you have already staged an intervention, make sure that you are following through on any boundaries and consequences you had made, they may see now more clearly that treatment is the only option if they want you to be a part of their life. If you have not already planned an intervention, it is important to contact a professional and begin the process. Staging an intervention could be what saves your loved one’s life and puts them onto the path of recovery.

9. Make sure you are taking care of yourself

Attending Nar-Anon or Al-Anon meetings, seeing a therapist regularly or taking time to do things you enjoy throughout the day, are all great ways to take care of yourself in this difficult time. Addiction doesn’t only hurt the addict or alcoholic, but anyone close to the addict or alcoholic as well.

If you or a loved one have decided that it’s time to enter treatment, call 833-216-3079 or chat now to learn about your options.