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What to do if an addict refuses treatment

Confronting the fact that a friend or a family member doesn’t really want to enter a recovery program in order to treat an addiction may leave you wondering what to do next. Just as treating an addiction is a process that needs to be very structured, it’s also important to take a structured approach to talk with anyone who might refuse treatment. More importantly, regardless of how an attempt to help them might turn out, you need to continue to be supportive to ensure that when the time comes for them to enter recovery, they’ll have people there to assist them.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Situation

When someone chooses to refuse treatment, it may raise some questions about whether they’re really an addict. People coping with drug or alcohol use disorders often can present very compelling arguments that they’re not in trouble. They may explain that they:

  • Only drink or get high to let off steam on the weekend
  • Insist that they’re highly functional
  • Are already cutting back their usage
  • Have fears they’ll lose their job if they are admitted to a treatment center
  • Need to be around to take care of their family
  • Will enter recovery after some big event, such as the holidays, a wedding, etc.
  • Won’t be able to afford rehab
  • Are worried about exposure to criminal charges

Rarely does a rational argument win out in these situations, so try to not dig in and make the discussion into a fight. The big thing is to recognize that you’re dealing with an addicted individual and you need to begin to take other steps to help them toward recovery. With the idea clearly framed, you’ll be able to confront other situations that might come up, such as if they beg you for money or need help making bail. This will ensure you don’t contribute more to the current problem.

Step 2: Learn More

Especially when dealing with an addict who refuses to seek help, it’s prudent to get educated about dealing with substance use disorders. You may also want to learn more about treating an overdose and obtain a supply of an antidote like Narcan if a loved one is using heroin or another opiate. It’s also wise to take a CPR course if you haven’t already been certified.

If you’re concerned that the person you care about is headed toward being charged with a crime, it’s also a good idea to talk with a drug law attorney. Conducting a consultation will give you a sense of how to address the situation if an addict is arrested. You can ask questions about things like the following:

  • Does your state offer any diversion programs?
  • Can someone charged with an offense still refuse treatment?

You’ll also want to get up to speed on the symptoms of different types of drugs, particularly if you’re not quite sure what the individual you’re dealing with is actually using. This is especially important to know if you’re worried that they’re engaged in mixed drug use, such as using cocaine to dial back the effects of heroin. Develop a written list of signs that your friend or family member is dealing with the misuse of specific drugs.

Step 3: Start Identifying What’s Going On

Having attained some degree of education about drugs and their symptoms, you should begin to figure out precisely what sort of situation your loved one is coping with. The first order of business is determining what drugs they’re actually using. Every drug has its own list of effects.

Someone who is using heroin, for example, might:

  • Seem out of it at times
  • Struggle to remember commitments
  • Withdraw from social life, especially interactions with non-users
  • Display medical issues, such as seizures or decreased breathing

On the flip side, a cocaine addict may be more likely to act:

  • Confrontational
  • Energetic
  • Twitchy
  • Violent
  • Panicky
  • Paranoid

You’ll also want to keep an eye for indicators that your loved one’s life is being disrupted by their misuse of alcohol or drugs. Regardless of the specific substance that might be abused, you may notice that they:

  • Aren’t grooming their hair as well as they used to
  • Haven’t bathed recently
  • Neglect to change their clothes
  • Try to hide their eyes by wearing sunglasses at inappropriate times
  • Disappear into the bathroom for unexplained reasons
  • Start forming friendships with people who use drugs

You may also begin to spot physical changes that are occurring, such as the phase that meth and cocaine users go through when they’re losing excess weight. As the addiction cycle continues, they’re likely to hit a point where they go from looking thin to downright scrawny.

By identifying the specific indications of a particular drug problem, you can start looking into treatment options tailored to the unique situation, such as dealing with someone who has a dual diagnosis. Even if they currently refuse treatment, it’s a good idea to have a recovery center in mind for when they come around. This will improve the chances they’ll get on board quickly during the period where they’re receptive to getting help.

Step 4: Get Them Medical Attention

Visiting a doctor and conducting a checkup may serve to give an addict a clearer picture of what they’re actually up against with a substance use disorder. This can frame the conversation in ways they might not have previously considered, such as learning about:

  • How much weight they’ve lost
  • Declines in motor skills
  • Diminished cognitive abilities
  • How their condition might continue to get worse
  • Toxicology reports
  • The effects of different drugs

It’s a good idea to give the doctor a heads-up about the situation before bringing an addict in for an exam. This will allow them to focus on a conversation that points your family member or friend toward recovery options. The experience may also provide better guidance regarding what specific drugs are being used.

Step 5: Stop Contributing to a Substance Use Problem

One of the more insidious aspects of addiction is that it compels people to seek money to fund their use. An addict may come straight out and ask for money, but they’ll often frame it as needing to cover rent or utility bills. Don’t assume that a presentation of bills is a legitimate reason for giving an addict money. It’s normal for a person with a substance use disorder to pay for drugs first, ask for money to cover bills and only then pay to keep the lights on. People with extreme addictions may be tempted to just buy more drugs.

An especially tricky aspect of this problem is that a user will often find ways around attempts to not contribute to their situation. You may try, for example, to directly buy something they need only to watch them turn around and sell it to convert into cash for drugs or alcohol. Friends and family often end up cutting addicts off completely in these situations.

It’s essential to make it known that you still care and that you’ll gladly help them if they need a ride to a recovery center. You don’t, however, want to put yourself in a situation where your finances are endangered because of their substance use disorder.

Step 6: Make a Clear Offer of Help

By this point, you should have collected a lot of information about the condition your loved one is in, what they’re using and which nearby treatment facilities are likely to offer suitable programs. At this stage, having acknowledged what the situation is and stopped contributing to it, you need to clearly state that you’re willing to help them get drug and alcohol counseling.

It’s normal for an addict to be emotional under such circumstances. You may be subjected to an outburst from them, or they might withdraw in the hope that non-engagement will kill the conversation. No matter what turn the discussion takes, you should:

  • Avoid being angry
  • Stay focused on the topic of recovery
  • Offer support
  • Refrain from being judgmental
  • Avoid escalating the situation with threats, such as saying you’ll call the police
  • Not use guilt
  • Remain encouraging

You should also try to avoid emotionally overcommitting to this moment. Many people with addiction issues don’t immediately jump in the car and go straight to rehab. With a little luck, they’ll understand, and you won’t eventually need to conduct a full-on intervention. You should, however, be prepared to provide steady friendship and support while they come to the conclusion themselves rather than being shocked if they refuse treatment. Knowing that you’ll be there to assist them in the process when the time comes will make it easier if they have a rock-bottom moment and decide to get help.

Step 7: Assess the Situation

Whether they refuse treatment or decide to go to rehab, you’ll need to assess where the situation stands. If they elect to go into recovery, you’ll need to make calls, set up an intake and provide transportation. Should they decide against entering rehab, you’ll need to start thinking about how to conduct an intervention.

Bear in mind that interventions don’t work the way they do on TV. A group of people don’t dramatically present an ultimatum and then watch as an addict emotionally caves. It’s often prudent to talk with a counselor at a treatment center, and it may be necessary to have a professional present to regulate the discussion during the intervention.

Step 8: Conducting an Intervention

Staging an intervention should take a couple weeks. You should be especially serious in thinking about who you invite to it. It’s critical that everyone who participates will be someone who can remain focused on the goal of directing the person to seek treatment. You don’t want to end up with people digging up old emotional wounds, screaming about unpaid debts and derailing the effort by providing anger or tears as conversational direction. If you have any doubts about the capacity of a potential participant to stay on point the entire time, do not include them.

Sort out everyone’s schedules to ensure they can be present. If possible, try to reserve a space that’s neutral, such as a conference room in a community center, in order to avoid reminders of emotional moments with the person you wish to help. You should also conduct a rehearsal in order to hear what everyone will say and place an emphasis on taking turns and staying on a defined script, even if your loved one tries to knock the intervention off course. Have contingencies in place in case the person decides to enter rehab right away, but be willing to accept that they may still refuse treatment.

Step 9: Following Through on Support

Helping someone get to a treatment center doesn’t mean your job is done. If they’re there on an outpatient basis, they may need rides back and forth. If they’re doing inpatient treatment, it will be helpful for visitors to come by regularly to check up on them. Someone should also be prepared to collect them when they’re done, and it’s important to have transportation for follow-up work, such as going to counseling sessions after completing treatment.

Recovery is a process, and it continues for years after the end of rehab. Don’t allow something that might feel like a major slip-up discourage you or your loved one, even if they’ve been clean for months. Remain supportive and keep a clear focus on what’s important: finding a path to a healthier and more stable life.

What is Inpatient Rehab

what is inpatient rehabInpatient rehab is one of the most comprehensive treatment options available if you’re struggling with addiction. One in 10 Americans has a drug abuse issue, and many of these people don’t get the help that they need to find their way out of their problems with substances. When you work with the right inpatient treatment center, you can get all-inclusive, 24/7 care that can help you get your life back on the right path.

What Is Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient rehab is a service that is offered by addiction treatment centers. This type of rehab program has a number of different components, but its main purpose is to change your relationship with addictive substances like alcohol, heroin, and prescription drugs. When you enroll in an inpatient treatment program, you will be guided through the process of removing toxic substances from your system, an endeavor that you should only pursue with the help of competent professionals.

After the drugs are removed from your system, the staff at inpatient treatment clinics will help you psychologically reorient yourself toward your addiction. Many therapy options are provided at these treatment clinics, and one of the best aspects of inpatient treatment is the fact that you get to be surrounded by like-minded people who are going through the same struggles that you are.

Once you no longer have drugs in your body and you’re armed with a new perspective toward life and happiness, you’ll be discharged from your inpatient treatment. However, most centers offer continuing treatment options to make sure that you reintegrate into the outside world effectively and safely.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

There are a number of differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab. The biggest difference between these types of treatment options is that when you choose to pursue inpatient rehab, you live at the facility where you are receiving treatment for the full duration of the treatment program. When you elect to pursue an outpatient treatment program, on the other hand, you simply report to the treatment facility throughout the week to get help with counseling and detox services.

Since this type of treatment separates you from the places where you obtain or use drugs, inpatient treatment is generally the best option when you’re struggling with serious addiction. In many cases, a user’s home or social environment contributes to their drug habits, and gaining a degree of separation from these environments helps ensure that the treatment process is successful. Outpatient treatment, however, may be the best option if your home or social environment isn’t toxic to your sobriety or you simply want to gain some tools to help you in your quest to remain clean and sober.

Inpatient vs. Residential Rehab

Inpatient rehab and residential rehab are basically the same things, but there are nuances between these two different kinds of rehabilitation services that you should understand before you pick a clinic to work with in your effort to gain sobriety. Residential rehab is a type of drug rehabilitation in which you stay at the rehab facility for a significant period of time. Some residential rehab services can last as long as 90 days while inpatient rehab usually only lasts a few weeks. The purpose of inpatient rehab is to detoxify from drugs and get used to the new chemical balances in your body.

Inpatient rehab still consists of elements such as individual and group therapy, but the whole process is less intensive than residential rehab. When you enroll in a residential rehab program, you should expect to be treated to a service that revolutionizes your perspective toward drugs from the inside out. Some forms of inpatient treatment, however, focus mainly on getting the drugs out of your system with supplementary aftercare services offered once you stop living at the treatment facility full time.

What Are the Components of Inpatient Rehab?

An effective inpatient rehab program will comprise a variety of different components. Each component of inpatient rehabilitation is designed to work together with other aspects of treatment. If one component is missing, your inpatient treatment efforts will most likely not yield the results you’re looking for. As you weigh the pros and cons of different treatment facilities, you should make sure that the facility that you end up working with offers all of the following components within their inpatient program:

24-hour nursing supervision

As you detoxify and change your perspective on drugs, having constant access to qualified and compassionate nursing services is a must. This is especially the case during the detox process because some drugs can cause seriously negative effects when you try to stop using them.

Opioids, in particular, can be especially dangerous to detox from, and the nursing staff at your treatment center may need to use special drugs to help you during the detoxification process. Even after the detox process has been completed, having access to 24-hour nursing ensures that you’ll have the help you need if you encounter a bout of depression or experience negative thoughts.

Medication management

A variety of medications may be used in the treatment of addiction, and it’s also possible that you’re already using medications that you’ll need to continue to use during the treatment process. When you enroll in an inpatient treatment program, your treatment providers will handle the administration of all of your medications in order to make it easier for you to focus on the task at hand.

Some of the medications used in the treatment of addiction may have interactions with the medications that you already use. Addiction treatment professionals will factor all of these variables into the equation to protect your health and well-being. If used inappropriately, some of the medications prescribed to treat opioid addiction can make your problem with addiction worse. Having qualified professionals monitor your medication intake is the best way to proceed.

Group therapy

Group therapy is one of the most important components of any inpatient treatment program. One of the best aspects of inpatient treatment is the opportunity that it provides you to communicate and commiserate with people who are going through the same issues that you are.
Group therapy takes this process to a whole new level by providing a structured environment in which you can share your stories and compare your aspirations with people in your peer group. These therapy sessions are often overseen by addiction treatment specialists, but facilitators generally step back and let the members of the group interact with each other freely.

Individual therapy

Individual therapy consists of one-on-one sessions between you and a treatment provider. As part of your individual therapy session, your treatment provider will ask you a number of questions to encourage you to talk about your substance use issues. Using this dialectic style, treatment specialists will coach you to develop a new framework for understanding your problem with addiction.

A variety of techniques may be used in individual therapy sessions, but one psychological technique that enjoys almost universal praise in this application is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy works at the level of cognition to change the way that you perceive the world. CBT digs deep to identify and eliminate or transform the exact mechanisms that are causing your addictive tendencies.

Aftercare treatment

At the end of your inpatient treatment experience, you may feel completely renewed and ready to take on life from a new perspective. As soon as you return to your old routines, though, things can change rapidly. When confronted by the places, people, and things that surrounded you while you were using drugs, it’s easy to feel yourself slipping back into bad habits. Understanding this, effective inpatient treatment facilities incorporate aftercare into their programs.

Aftercare treatment varies from program to program, but it usually consists of coming back into the treatment facility to enjoy continued group or individual therapy. Your treatment facility will also often help connect you to a local 12-step program, and they may even help you find a sober-living environment to stay in as you adjust to life in the outside world. Sober-living environments are shared homes where recovering addicts live together and help each other heal and face the challenges of sober living.

What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?

Group therapy helps prepare you for one of the most important components of recovery outside of the treatment center: 12-step programs. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, it’s important that you find an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group or another organization to help you in your recovery efforts. Those dealing with opioid addiction or an addiction to another drug should similarly find a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group to meet with. If you’re already experienced in sharing your stories with others during the inpatient treatment process, it becomes much easier to get into the swing of things with your relevant 12-step program.

Group therapy sessions also allow you to be heard by your peers. While individual therapy sessions can provide you with more guided insight, group therapy is more improvisational, and you may find yourself inspired to share things with your group that you wouldn’t have talked about in an individual session. You also shouldn’t overlook the edifying aspect of hearing the stories of others. Not only does listening to other people’s stories help them in their recovery process, but it also provides you with opportunities to recognize that you aren’t alone in your struggle.

Can Inpatient Rehab Help You?

There are a number of tough questions that you should consider before you can know for sure whether or not inpatient treatment is right for you. In some cases, you may think that you need inpatient treatment when other treatment options are actually better equipped to serve your needs.

When trying to decide whether inpatient care is right for them, however, the most common problem that people encounter is resistance to the idea of this type of treatment. After all, most people don’t like being lifted out of their daily routine even if their current choices are harming them. The prospect of entering into a medical facility in which your every move is monitored can be threatening.

If you’re finding that you have significant resistance to the idea of inpatient rehab, it can actually be a sign that this type of treatment is the best option for you. In many cases, resistance to the treatment process is caused by the psychological effects of addiction. Your reliance on drugs can cloud your judgment and make you opposed to the very thing that will help you the most. In general, if you feel that you are addicted to a substance and you’ve tried multiple times to get clean and sober to no avail, inpatient treatment might be right for you.

It’s even clearer that this type of treatment is the right option for you if people in your life are fueling your addiction. If your partners and friends are also users, the only way to get your life back on track is to separate yourself from them and enter into an environment that’s only populated by people attempting to remain sober. If you’re desperate and you don’t know where to turn for help with your addiction issues, inpatient rehab may be the shining ray of hope you’ve been looking for.

How Do You Find the Right Inpatient Rehab Clinic?

Every rehab clinic is unique. Before you decide which facility you’d like to work with to get sober, you should take a look at the guiding principles and methods of each clinic that you’re interested in. From there, you should call the staff and schedule an appointment so that you can talk to addiction specialists and determine the best possible course of action for your particular situation.

Blog Coming Soon!

Thank you for all the support over the last few months.

We are working on getting our writing team together, and will be releasing the blog in the near future. Please continue to help support us as we strive to provide the best information possible for those seeking inpatient treatment information.

– Inpatient.org Team