Get help today 888-341-7785 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

3 Ways to Help a Loved One Who Doesn’t Want Help

When you first realize that a loved one has a drug or alcohol problem, you might assume he’ll want to seek treatment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the reality.

When confronted about substance abuse, his initial reaction is likely denial. For family members and friends, this can be extremely frustrating. You can see he’s destroying his life and you want to help him. You just don’t know how.

Dealing with chemical dependency is difficult, but there are steps you can take to be better prepared for the fight ahead. One of your first actions needs to be learning about the disease of addiction. Hopefully, this will help you understand his thought patterns, behaviors, and actions. To put it simply, drugs and alcohol basically hijack your loved one’s brain. The substances alter his brain chemistry and he’ll continue using despite the negative consequences.

Many parents and relatives blame themselves for a loved one’s substance abuse. This might be a natural response, but it’s not true. Although the exact cause of chemical dependency is unknown, it’s a diagnosable disease according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Ways to Help Your Loved One

So, how can you help him realize it’s time to seek help for his addiction? Consider the following three tips:

  • #1 – Establish BoundariesThree ways to help your loved to quit addictionThis might be one of the hardest things to do, but it’s extremely important. More often than not, you enable his substance abuse by helping him. If you have no limits, the resulting downward spiral of enabling quickly allows his substance abuse to take over your life. In order to protect yourself – and help your loved one – boundaries must be set. Without your enabling behavior as a safety net, he might seek help sooner rather than later.
  • #2 – Think About Staging an InterventionAn intervention is a formal gathering of family and close friends designed to confront your loved one with the reality of his substance abuse. It’s a way to help him break free from denial. A certified interventionist can help orchestrate the planning, facilitate the actual intervention, and explain different treatment options.

    You can also check out Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), which offers information on varied topics like how to communicate with your addicted loved one, how to get your loved one into treatment, and how to keep your loved one motivated on their recovery journey.

  • #3 – Practice Self-CareAnother difficult aspect of substance abuse is that you have no control over whether or not he seeks help. Luckily there are support groups out there designed specifically to support loved ones like yourself. Some of those groups include Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, CODA, or Adult Children of Alcoholics. They can be a source of insight and comfort.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

If and when he does agree to seek treatment, make sure to do some research to find a facility that fits his needs and will best help him on his path to sobriety. But it’s important to remember: recovery is a lifelong process. Even after he’s completed treatment, he’ll need continued motivation and support to avoid relapse.

Additional Reading:   When They Just Don’t Want Your Help…

Image Source: iStock

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.