What If My Loved One Won’t Go to Treatment?

Understanding the difference between forcing your loved one to go to treatment and setting the appropriate bottom lines—adding pressure for them to find inherent motivation—can make or break an individual’s success in recovery. Many families face the struggle of attempting to convince their addicted loved ones to seek help for their substance abuse, ultimately seeking out an addiction intervention.

Perhaps your loved one doesn’t recognize the harm caused by their addiction or they simply don’t believe they can function without their substance of choice. Regardless of the reason your loved one won’t go to treatment, this desperate situation can be extremely difficult to navigate. We get it. Many of our families have been there too.

The first and most important step you can take when your loved one is suffering from addiction is to educate yourself about the disease. Addiction is classified as a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment and an individual’s life experiences. Despite negative consequences, someone struggling with addiction will compulsively seek and abuse substances. Your addicted loved one is likely to experience cravings, withdrawals and a host of other symptoms when attempting to stop using.

You can expect distorted thought patterns and erratic behaviors with anyone in active addiction. It can be baffling how destructive your loved one’s addiction is. If you can, try to remember that the delusions that go along with long-term substance abuse can make communication with your addicted loved one seemingly impossible. It’s not uncommon for someone in active addiction to be completely oblivious to the destruction left in the wake of their substance abuse.

It’s vital that you spend some time educating yourself on the disease of addiction. This will help you protect yourself and place you in the best position to be helpful to your loved one when they’re refusing addiction treatment. There is a ton of information online about how to help someone struggling with addiction, but the internet can sometimes be an overwhelming place to start.

So you might want to reach out to an addiction specialist or professional interventionist to discuss your unique situation and know how to help your loved one.

How To Stage a Drug and Alcohol Intervention

Couple in therapy during an intervention

If you’re considering an intervention, it’s likely you’ve exhausted all of the possible conversations about addiction treatment and recovery with your loved one. It may be time for a fresh perspective. An intervention is a great way to communicate the desperate desire for your loved one to get sober. Finding the best method for staging an intervention can be a daunting task. You may have even tried to do one on your own. But it’s tough to reach someone deep in addiction. It becomes even more complicated and challenging when our history and emotional attachment with someone get tangled up in our desire for them to change. Addiction is a cunning and baffling disease. In a lot of cases, a professional is needed to make progress.

Although proven to be extremely effective, interventions don’t always end with the person agreeing to go to rehab. Each situation is totally unique. Your loved one may not be ready at the time of their intervention. We know just how frustrating it is when you’re trying to discuss sobriety with someone still active in their addiction. But it’s important not to center the intervention around confrontation. Instead, you want to express your love and concern. This is where a professional interventionist can be so helpful. They’ll help everyone involved prepare to intervene on behalf of your addicted loved one. 

The best way to convey love and concern for your loved one is to seek help from a professional interventionist. Following the lead of a professional interventionist will help you to know when to apply pressure, when to back off and listen, when to show compassion, when to stick to firm boundaries, and ultimately how to effectively encourage your loved one to seek treatment for their addiction. An interventionist will take the time to talk to you and your family prior to the intervention and prepare the most appropriate treatment options to offer on the day of the drug and alcohol intervention. 

A successful intervention is not about force, but rather about compassion, patience, tolerance, understanding and empathy. The primary goal of an intervention is to convince your loved one that they need addiction treatment.

Intervention Services in Nashville, TN

Families may spend years trying to get help for a loved one struggling with addiction. But false starts, relapses, or a refusal to address their problem can start to make recovery feel like an impossible task. Trust us, our families have been in the same frustrating and terrifying place you may be in right now. So we want to introduce you to someone who might be able to help. 

The truth is, once someone is suffering from addiction, it becomes harder than ever to get through to them without professional help. That’s why an outside third-party, like a professional interventionist, can be a life-changing resource. An intervention is a structured space for the loved ones of an alcoholic or drug addict to share their love and concerns about someone’s drinking or drug use and offer them a plan for treatment.

More often than not, a professional interventionist will be more successful in getting your loved one to agree to treatment than you’ll be on your own. And here’s why: Professional interventionists want to see your loved one get well too. But unlike family or close friends, an interventionist doesn’t have all the history, pain, or attachment associated with the suffering alcoholic or addict in your life. What they do have is objective insight and training to get your loved one the help they need. They help create a space where your loved one may finally be able to hear the things you’ve been saying for years.

Here are a couple of professional interventionists Discovery Place trusts and recommends.

Meet Interventionist, Bruce Perkins

You don’t have to convince Bruce Perkins your loved one deserves another shot at life. He already believes it and wants to help you help your loved one make that a reality. And after 35 years and more than 2,250 professional interventions, Bruce’s passion and love for addicts and their families is as strong as it’s ever been.

Location: Muncie, Indiana. Primarily serving Indiana and surrounding areas, including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington and Lafayette, IN; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Eastern IL and Southern MI.

Years in practice: 35 years

How do you know if someone needs an intervention?

If a family has any concern about a loved one with a drug (heroin, cocaine or prescription pills) or alcohol problem—it may not even be that bad yet—I’ll give them a free half-hour over the phone. If you don’t need an intervention, I’ll tell you what to do. And if you do, I’ll tell you how to get started.

Tell us about your approach to conducting interventions

I do not do shame-based, beat-‘em-up, put-‘em-down interventions. I believe interventions should build people up, give them hope, and inspire them. are done with kindness, grace, dignity, and respect. The spirit of this thing is to give people hope. 

How do you prepare families to participate in an intervention?

I have write out a letter of why they love , why they care about them. More importantly, we get down to, “You’re really a good person underneath this illness. I want to talk to you about the good person that I know with the good heart and the good spirit.” We really highlight what a profound and caring person they are underneath this. It’s very nurturing. I have all family members do that, whether it’s four people or ten people. Every family member writes that letter.  

And then I have them write down, “Out of our love for you, because we care about you because we want the best for you, we have some worries and concerns we’d like to share.” It’s not a put-down. It’s not, “You’re a bad boy. Look what you did.” The concerns are presented in a non-judgmental manner. There’s no moralizing or preaching. It’s just: This is what I see, and this is how sad, or angry, or worried or disappointed I am about it. So, it’s just telling the truth, but it comes from a place of, “We’d be remiss if we didn’t share this with you because we love you so much. And we know you’re stuck.”

What do you do if someone doesn’t accept help?

We almost always get a yes. I don’t give up easily. But if it’s a no, then we tell them we accept their decision. And the family reminds their loved one that it also means accepting their decision. That might mean no tuition for school, no car, losing access to other family members. The family is not the enemy here. The illness is. Most of the time we don’t have to trot out the consequences. It’s rare that within 30 days of an Intervention I don’t get someone into treatment. 

Why do you recommend Discovery Place for drug and alcohol treatment?

I’ve worked with Discovery Place for decades. For the money, it’s the best program in the country, really. This is the ticket. When you walk in, it’s not an institution. It has more of a homey feel to it. are always treated with a welcoming spirit. 

gets down to the fundamentals. They haven’t gotten too cute with treatment. They really stick with the Steps, Traditions, and principles of recovery. And they practice that with love, care, and accountability. 

Meet Interventionist, Bob Beck

Bob Beck can’t imagine doing any other kind of work. But conducting interventions isn’t your regular 9-to-5 job. “It’s not easy work,” he says. “It’ll break your heart.” He’s convinced though that within every chemically dependent person, there is a part of them that wants to get sober. 

So by the time Bob enters the picture, most families are at their lowest point. Scared, angry, tired, disappointed—for many, he’s their last hope at reaching their loved one stuck in addiction. So he takes his work seriously. And while the families he meets may be running low on hope, Bob isn’t. With a decade of experience and a 90% success rate, he’s witnessed more than a miracle or two.

“The most at peace with God and the Universe I have ever felt in my entire life—period—is when I’m sharing with another sick and suffering person something hopeful,” says Bob. “A lot of people caught up in substance abuse can’t envision a future, but healing is possible.”

Location: Memphis, TN and will travel

Years in practice: 10 years

Tell us about your approach to conducting interventions

It’s a family systems-based style of intervention, and a non-invitational model. That means doesn’t know they’re being invited to an intervention.

One-on-one emotional appeals rarely, if ever, work. Sometimes they do, but not for very long. So the premise is we get everybody in the family to come together—one unit, one thought, using a non-shame-based, love-based approach to the intervention process.

People say all the time, “You gotta hit rock bottom. You gotta find your bottom before you can get well.” In my practice, the family raises the bottom for their loved one before they find it. That’s what intervention does. Using the letters , is able to find that part of their brain that wants to get well.

What can families expect before the intervention?

I’ll have the first call with the family member who’s been assigned to do some research. They’ll discuss what’s going on . We might talk anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. I’m not trying to sell you an intervention. I’m trying to get an idea of what’s going on.

Then typically we do a Zoom call or a conference call. And that’s with the main players. We go through family history, medical history, legal history—whatever people are willing to share. I don’t pry. We talk about their loved one’s current events. That’s usually what’s pushed the family to reach out. Then we discuss what the best treatment option might be for them and schedule the intervention. 

What’s helpful for the families to know about their loved one that they might not know?

Nobody wants to go to treatment. Even the people who check themselves into treatment aren’t 100% behind it. They’re going to be mad. But emotions have a beginning, middle and end. And they’ll get over it.

If your loved one knew what to do, they would have already done it. It’s not their fault. They wouldn’t have chosen . But they do have a responsibility for their actions.

Why do you recommend Discovery Place for drug and alcohol treatment?

Everyone seems to have an emotional and spiritual investment, as well as clinical investment, in what goes on there. I look at the culture. The consistencies of care, of approach, of attitude are very important to me. Discovery Place exhibits all of that. There is an air of confidence that I appreciate. They have boundaries set. They pay attention to who’s there. You have to feel like you’re being paid attention to.

Addiction Interventions in Nashville, TN

You don’t have to hit “rock bottom” before asking for help from meth, cocaine or alcohol abuse. It’s available now through our 30-Day Residential Program. If you or a loved one is ready for a different—and better—life, we’re here for you. Give us a call at 1.800.725.0922. Or send us a message here. Just like our buddy Bruce the interventionist says: No shame. Just hope.

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