Why Go To Rehab? - From Substance Abuse to Addiction Treatment
The realization that you, a loved one, or a friend need to go to a rehab center for addiction can be sudden or gradual. An accident, a brush with the law, or an overdose can convince someone to reach out for professional help. Or, a progressive escalation of their alcohol or drug use crosses a line, and it becomes obvious they need to seek treatment.
Regardless of how addiction treatment appears on your radar, a person's journey to a treatment facility usually follows a fairly predictable course. First, they experiment with drugs or alcohol. Then, they go back for more. Soon, they are drinking or using regularly, and their substance use requires quantities that are neither harmless nor manageable. Putting their physical and mental health at risk, they enter active substance abuse.
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Drug abuse left unchecked often leads to drug addiction. At this stage, a person knows (though they may not yet admit it, either to themselves or others) that they can't solve their drug abuse problem alone. Addiction treatment is usually the only way forward, whether in the form of a stay in a treatment center or through outpatient treatment.
Taking the First Step Toward Treatment
Most people will have to hit rock bottom, and personally experience a sense of absolute loss of control and hopelessness, before they resign themselves to a treatment program. Many will try - sometimes with a degree of success - to find a support group to help get their lives back on track. Here they can speak openly to neutral people, who are not a family member or loved one. Even when this is ultimately not enough, at least it shows a willingness on the person's part to face, and talk about, their substance addiction.
Some people may be teetering on the edge of committing to the help they need to quit their substance use. Sometimes, more knowledge of their condition may convince them going to a treatment center is, in fact, a blessing, a doorway to freedom and recovery. The support of family and loved ones may give them the courage to abandon a lifestyle that, if left unchanged, would lead them down a darker and darker path. For others, the pull of the substance addiction and deeply entrenched drug abuse habits, mean they are unable, or unwilling, to seek treatment of their own volition.
In extreme cases, it is the hand of the law that pushes someone through the doors of a treatment facility. It is an unfortunate fact that substance abuse and addiction frequently lead a person to commit misdemeanors, either through desperate measures to obtain their substance, or because they are heavily under the influence of something. Estimates suggest that 80% of all crimes leading to jail in the US involve alcohol or drug abuse. A court-ordered rehab is an alternative sentence to spare a person jail time, and ideally, help them overcome addiction thanks to appropriate addiction treatment.
How to Have a Productive Conversation with a Loved One about Rehab
As mentioned above, not everyone who would benefit greatly from rehab ever makes it to a treatment center unaided. Sometimes they need a helpful push. In some cases, the closest relative, or a number of family members, need to rally around to initiate a dialogue around the person's use of drugs and their need for treatment.
It is best to set aside a time to confront a loved one with the reality of their addiction and make a structured plan for this difficult but necessary conversation. Fixing a time and having a plan is known by addiction specialists as staging an intervention. For some individuals, a fairly low-key, family intervention will be enough. For others, an intervention specialist may need to assist, and perhaps even conduct, the intervention.
In all cases, the advice of a professional interventionist is valuable input. This person will evaluate the situation, and may not even necessarily suggest they play a leading role - they may offer just to assist. Whichever way you choose to proceed, any concerned family member will need to do a little homework. Below are a few suggestions on possible ways to convince someone to go to rehab.
Anyone participating in the intervention might do some research on substance addiction, the nature of the condition, and how it affects people's lives. This includes any mental illness that may be linked to the substance abuse of the loved one, such as major depressive disorder.
It's important not to overlook lesser signs of mental health issues either, such as a tendency towards addictive behavior. The aim is not to judge the person, but to gain more knowledge of any possible contributing factors to substance use, in order to understand them better. A productive conversation will be easier if you are informed, and an attentive listener.
Make sure you have researched any treatment options you wish to suggest to them. There may be an addiction treatment center near you, inquire what kind of treatment plan they would recommend. Also, don't forget to check what your insurance carrier would cover.
Choose an Appropriate Time
If you don't want to plan an official intervention, and would rather just find a suitable occasion, make sure the person is not remotely under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If they ever start talking about quitting without prompting, you might seize the opportunity to voice your concerns.
If you decide to go the route of a formal intervention, ask an intervention specialist to help you plan. Remember, an interventionist has certified credentials, and generally also a background in counseling or therapy. You will then set a date and time for the intervention. The way the process unfolds remains much the same.
Make a Clear Assessment of the Facts
It helps if your loved one genuinely feels everyone is 'on their side' and wants only to support them in their recovery. Try and make them understand undergoing treatment and starting the recovery process is first and foremost for their own benefit. Look at the facts of their substance use, be as objective as you can, but don't sugarcoat anything - point out, gently but firmly, how their addiction is affecting their life and is neither manageable nor sustainable. If your loved one has had brushes with the law, you can also point out, in as gentle a way as possible, that a court-ordered rehab or a criminal conviction are things that genuinely could happen in real life.
Also, in as non-judgmental way as you can, reveal to them the full extent to which their alcohol or drug abuse is causing you and other family members anguish, and negatively impacting the lives of many. Be honest and let them know your true feelings - if you can't take any more, let them know you also are struggling.
Strong emotions often arise when a person is put face-to-face with their alcohol or drug abuse problem, and even more so its consequences. When this happens, if an interventionist is present, they can act as a moderator. Otherwise, try to stay calm and compassionate, including towards yourself.
Talk About Professional Treatment Options
If the person seems open to at least hearing about treatment options, start by repeating that professional treatment is first and foremost going to benefit them, and allow them to regain control of their life. Bear in mind that they might find the thought of inpatient care in rehab very daunting, in particular, if they feel they are being pressured into an involuntary commitment. Let them know that outpatient treatment could also be a place to start.
Take Practical Steps to Get The Person into Rehab
If your conversation with your loved one, or the intervention, has been well-received, take action at once to set the ball rolling. Set a date for the person to enter rehab. If there will be a short wait, connect them at once with a support group. Ensure they communicate regularly with staff running the treatment program they will attend, so they don't lose their nerve.
Don't forget to support yourself during what may be a tense time, until your loved one is actually in the care of a professional treatment center. Support groups like Al-Anon are there to help, by connecting the family of the sufferer with others also dealing with an addicted loved one, and providing a safe place to talk.
Does my Loved One Really Need an Addiction Treatment Center?
Even if an intervention or conversation goes well, it can be an intense experience. If the loved one appears agitated and reluctant to get professional help, some family members may begin to doubt whether rehab is really the best course of action.
Let's not forget, people don't generally go to rehab out of the blue. They form a substance use habit that at some point becomes compulsive, unmanageable, and with a negative impact on all areas of their lives and the people close to them. For some, getting into a treatment center is an involuntary commitment. There is also a minority of people who are lucky enough to realize they are on a slippery slope - they go to rehab and manage to nip their alcohol or drug abuse in the bud before it degenerates into full-blown drug addiction.
According to a 2020 national survey on drug use and health, 40.3 million people aged 12 or older had a past year substance use disorder. The cost to society is so great that the mental health services administration (SAMHSA) exists specifically to help reduce this cost and to support the treatment and recovery of people suffering from substance addiction and mental illness.
At Cornerstone, our goal is the same - we are here so that when someone reaches out, we can put all the skills and expertise of our mental health and addiction professionals, and forty years of experience, at their service. We know how harrowing it is to see a loved one's addiction develop, and we can relieve you of the burden of coping alone. Recovery and a new life are possible - get in touch and let us show you how.