From involuntary commitment to an intervention, learn more about what your options are for convincing an addict to go to rehab.

Your loved one is lost in their addiction. Nothing seems to be working. They’ve refused to go to rehab, they’re in denial, and you just desperately want them to see how bad things actually are.

At this point, it’s only natural to wonder: Can you force someone to go to rehab? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2009 some 23.5 million people needed treatment for substance abuse. Only 2.6 million, or roughly 11%, actually got the help they needed. You might be scared to put to much pressure on your loved one, but the reality is that the right kind of pressure can get them into treatment. Here’s everything you need to know.

Does Forced Rehab Work?

There’s a common saying that’s passed around to the family members of addicts: “In order to get better, they have to want it.” But actually, the success rates between those went to rehab voluntarily and those who were forced to go are very similar. Addiction is a disease that affects the brain. And like any other disease, treatment will have a similar result regardless of whether or not the patient actually desires it.

How to Get an Addict to Go to Rehab

If someone is in denial about their addiction and refuses to get help on their own, there are several options available to you:

Involuntary Commitment

Involuntary commitment, or court-ordered rehab, is an option when the addict is a danger to themselves or others. As of 2011, some form of court-ordered substance abuse treatment is possible in 38 states. The criteria for this ruling vary widely, and we’ll be honest—the process of attaining a court order like this can be long and difficult. This article is not intended as legal advice. If you want to pursue involuntary commitment, you can find more information here, and we highly suggest seeking the advice of a lawyer.

Holding an Intervention

Although interventions do not “force” the individual to go to rehab, the social pressure can be extremely effective and should be your main focus whenever possible. There are many different types of intervention, but they’re all focused on the same thing: showing how the addiction is having a negative impact on the individual’s life, and providing a way out through rehab. As a voluntary rehab center, we definitely recommend interventions and have seen huge success with them.

How to Get Someone Into Rehab Using an Intervention

Holding an intervention can be a time-consuming process due to the amount of preparation needed. But if it gets your loved one into treatment, it is certainly time well spent. To hold a successful intervention, there are two key elements you should focus on:

Professional Assistance

Professional intervention specialists have helped plenty of people wake up the seriousness of their condition, and they’ll be able to guide the conversation and make sure it’s effective as possible. There are a lot of things that can go wrong during an intervention, and their presence can help minimize mistakes.


Being ready for the intervention is key. This is not an event to take lightly, and winging it is not an option. Be prepared for objections like “It’s too expensive,” “I’ll lose my job,” or “It won’t work.” How will you handle these responses? Prepare exactly what you’re going to say. An interventionist will be able to help you identify any weaknesses in your approach and plan for all situations.

What if the Intervention Fails?

Even if you do everything right, the intervention might fail. Don’t plan on this, but be ready for it. If the intervention fails, take some time to analyze what happened and brainstorm ways to improve it the next time around. Again, a professional can be invaluable for this. Then, follow through with any consequences that you laid out in the intervention. For example, if you said you’d stop paying for their apartment, do so. Did you say they couldn’t see their grandchildren if they didn’t get treatment? Approach the subject with empathy and love, but stick to what you said. This kind of tough love can be a real turning point as the individual realizes that their lifestyle is soon going to be unsustainable. And even if it doesn’t work now, your words will have more sway in the next intervention. Finally, prepare for another try. Sometimes it takes several interventions for someone to accept help. Improve your intervention plan however you can, then try again.

The Recovery Village Can Help Get Your Loved One Into Treatment

Convincing a loved one that they need treatment can feel impossible. If you’re struggling to make an impact, we want to help. The Recovery Village is a voluntary rehab center, and we would love to get you in touch with an interventionist who can make your next intervention far more effective. Learn more by giving us a call at 888-419-4035.


“DrugFacts: Treatment Statistics.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Mar 2011. Web. 6 Jul 2016.[…]treatment-statistics.

“Laws About Involuntary Commitment for Substance Abuse Vary Widely Among States.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 20 May 2011. Web. 6 Jul 2016.[…]widely-among-states/.

Testa, Megan, MD, Sara G. West, MD. “Civil Commitment in the United States.” Pyychiatry (Edgmont). NCBI, 2010. Web. 6 Jul 2016.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.