When Your Loved One Resists Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance Abuse Treatment | Lakehouse Recovery CenterNot everyone is going to participate in substance abuse treatment simply because its available to them. Yet, the only time treatment is effective is if the client is ready. This applies to individuals, regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. There must be willingness and a readiness to change old patterns, old behaviors, and old choices.

Despite this, when an addiction of someone you love has spun out of control and if his or her functioning at home, school, or work has been impaired, then it’s time to seek treatment. Also, if you see a change in your loved one’s emotions, behavior, sleeping or eating habits, or a combination of these, and especially if that change is sudden, then taking your friend or family member to a professional is called for. Yet, the process to getting their won’t be easy if he or she isn’t ready.

Ambivalence is holding two opposing views or opinions at the same time. Yet, with an addiction the opposing forces and inner struggle is strong. On the one hand, someone addicted to drugs and alcohol might recognize the damages that the addiction creates, and for this reason, may want to stop drinking or drug use. Yet, at the same time, the alcohol or drugs might bring an ease to challenging feelings, tumultuous thinking, and or a way to manage anxiety or depression. Knowing the pros and cons to the addiction creates the strong ambivalence.

When someone resists treatment, often ambivalence is getting in the way. The following are tips to use when your family or friend refuses to seek the treatment you’re hoping for him or her:


  • Avoid Accusations or Expressing Your Authority When Discussing Treatment.

Instead, lovingly and openly express your concern. Communicate that by participating in substance abuse treatment – or whatever recovery program you are considering – there is a likelihood for change, leading to a happier and healthier experience.

  • Find A Treatment Program That Meets the Uniqueness of Your Loved One

One of the key ways that a therapist facilitates change in their clients is through the therapeutic relationship. In the same way, helping your loved one have a relationship with the substance abuse treatment program itself can help him or her agree to it. For instance, if your loved one is gay, there are treatment programs that focus on the LGBTQ community. Or if your loved one is wealthy, there are plenty of luxurious treatment facilities that cater to meeting needs with style.

  • Show Respect for Your Loved One.

Despite the fact that your friend or family member might push your limits and perhaps stimulate anger, when it comes to matters of mental health, treating him or her with respect and maturity can facilitate a willingness to participate. Communicating your concerns with patience and appreciation for what your loved one is going through might also ease his or her choice.

  • Become An Active Participant.

Let your friend or family member know that you will be actively involved. This can ease his or her feeling of having to go through this alone. The thought of treatment itself might provoke anxiety. Communicate that you will accompany him or her each step of the way.

  • Put A Limit on Substance Abuse Treatment.

If your loved one continues to refuse treatment, see if he or she is willing to participate in at least 3 weeks of treatment or one week of rehabilitative services. By highlighting the short-term nature of treatment, he or she might be more willing to agree. If your friend or family member can see the end to the experience, it might be easier to accept.


It’s not uncommon for individuals to resist treatment. There is a high level of stigma that accompanies addiction. However, with your support he or she might accept it and participate in the change that you’re suggesting.



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