How to Help When a Loved One Refuses Treatment

When an addict refuses treatment it’s important to show some tough love.

If you’re watching a loved one suffer from addiction, please know you’re not alone. In fact, nearly half of all Americans have a friend or family member who’s an addict. Watching someone close to you deteriorate under the influence of their addiction can be emotionally hard, especially if they refuse help.

Gently offering support and encouragement may not have worked to get your loved one to seek treatment. However, there’s still several ways to support an addict, without encouraging their addiction. When an addict has refused treatment, you can still point them in the direction of recovery, even while giving them a dose of tough love. Look at our steps to recovery after refusal of treatment to learn more.

Get Out of Denial

To help your loved one, it’s important to understand what their addiction is and how serious it is. You may feel like living in denial is a safe place to protect yourself from worry and emotional pain. Unfortunately, it’s not going to help your loved one. What you need to do now is accept that your loved one is suffering from a serious disease and that they need help.

Educate Yourself

Take the time to educate yourself on your loved one’s drug of choice. Learn the signs to see if they’re under the influence of the drug (if you’re not already aware). Additionally, learn the health risks from prolonged use and the prevalence of the drug in your area. Make sure you’re using trusted sources for your information. This will also help take you out of denial and give you more motivation to encourage your loved one to get the help they need.

Find Out Reasons They’re Avoiding Treatment

According to Psychology Today, there are many reasons why your loved one is refusing treatment. Perhaps they’re worried about the cost of treatment. Are they worried that friends, family or coworkers will find out about their addiction? Are they scared to dive into deep emotional issues during therapy?

If so, take the time to talk them through their fears. Is there an addiction center that takes your insurance? Are there centers that charge for services based on a sliding scale?

While the person suffering with addiction may feel too embarrassed to seek help, it’s important to remind them that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Also, addressing deep emotional issues can help an addict find relief from emotional pain. In fact, a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine has found that psychosocial treatments for drug addiction can cause a behavior change.

While it can be hard work, it can also make it easier for the addict to stop relying on their addiction as an emotional crutch.

Follow Through with Consequences

When dealing with an addicted loved one it’s important to follow through with consequences. Many addicts may see your words as ‘empty threats’ especially when they know it may be scary for you to follow through. While taking this step is a risk, it’s also an important way to show your loved one that you’re serious about their recovery. So, whether you’re forced to now take away visitation, move out or stop all enabling behaviors, showing that you’re willing to step up can be a great wake up call.

Stop Funding the Addiction

How are you funding your loved one’s addiction? Are you allowing your child to live with you, allowing them to better afford their drug of choice? Are you covering for a spouse who’s using the family finances to fund their addiction? When you take action, it’s important that you make sure you’re non-confrontational. Confrontation with an addict can cause them to disappear for days as well as look for other ways to fund their addiction. If they ask for money, simply give them a practical reason why it’s not possible.

Consider a Medical Approach

Suggest a physical checkup for your loved one. Speak to your family doctor beforehand and let them know your loved one’s addiction issue. Hearing the physical impact of their addiction from a third party can help your loved one to hear the same information in a new light.

Get Help for Yourself

Loving an addict doesn’t come without an emotional impact. While you may be focused on how to help your loved one, it’s important to remember to practice self-care. Check out your local Al-Anon or Nar-Anon for support.


An intervention shouldn’t be entered lightly or without preparation. When it comes to an intervention, it’s likely to be a turning point in an addict’s life, if done properly.

Interventions allow friends and family members to express their emotional pain as well as deliver ultimatums to their loved one. Interventions are done to help give the addict a desire for recovery. While this method may not work for everyone, interventions have been proven as the most effective method to help addicts and prepare them for the road to recovery.

Learn More

Are you or your loved one suffering from an addiction? It’s important to remember that addiction is a serious disease, and no one is beyond help. There are treatment options available to help you through this difficult path. The road from addiction to recovery is possible and can bring you back to the person you want to be.

Most recovery centers are covered under your insurance, paid on a sliding scale or offer payment plans. Everyone deserves to get the treatment they need. Learn more about the recovery center options in your area here.