when your loved one is refusing treatment

Follow Through on Consequences
Many people with addictions see consequences as empty threats. When your loved one refuses treatment, set consequences. This can be something as light as taking away internet privileges or removing drugs or alcohol form the household. Sometimes more drastic consequences are needed such as: moving out, taking away visitation rights, and/or contacting authorities. Effective consequences vary by person and severity of the addiction. They should all matter enough that they motivate an addict who refuses treatment to reconsider and eventually agree to enter rehabilitation. Whatever boundaries you set, you must stick to them. The addict must understand that his or her substance abuse has wide ranging effects.

Quit Enabling the Addiction
Enabling is supporting an addiction, even if not directly. Are you financially supporting the addict? This can come in the form of cheap housing, which allows them to spend excess money on drugs or alcohol. It can be giving them a “loan” or providing groceries. Are you covering up the addiction? Perhaps you lie about why your loved one can’t make it to events. Maybe you do their school, house, or professional work for them. Most clearly, stop providing drugs or alcohol. When you stop enabling, an addict has the opportunity to not only see the consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, but forces them have to work harder to sustain their habit. Without your help, they can realize how much sway their addiction has on their actions and their life.

Prepare for a Fallout
Addiction is a powerful disease that affects the emotional part of the brain, and setting consequences and withdrawing support is not what the addict wants to hear. After he or she refuses treatment, most addicts will try to manipulate love ones into supporting them again. This may be through false promises (“I swear I have stopped using”), threats (“I will never talk to you again”), emotional appeals (“If you loved me you would understand”), false rationality (“I was never addicted, but I have stopped using”) and a variety of other tactics. These pleads are very hard to resist, but do not loosen your resolve. A person who is addicted cannot turn off their desire to use on their own- they must seek treatment. Unless violent threats are made, ignore this emotional battery and stick to the consequences. This is tough love.

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. You are not alone however. Al-Anon and Narc-Anon are 12 Step programs designed for those with loved ones are addicts. Teen support groups are often available in conjunction to these groups. A quick web search will help you find one near you. 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.

This will be a tough time for you. Know that you are not only freeing yourself from the destruction of addiction, but you are pushing your loved one towards recovery. Only the person with the addiction can commit to recovery. Even though he or she refuses treatment now, doesn’t mean they will in the future. In the meantime, don’t let addiction take over your life. Practice tough love and get help for yourself.