What To Do If An Alcoholic Refuses Addiction Treatment
Alcohol addiction can be a painful and confusing situation for everyone involved. If someone close to you is refusing to get help, you may be feeling frustrated and concerned for their safety. When a loved one refuses addiction treatment, it’s important to understand your options and connect to a support system.
Currently in the U.S., approximately 17 million adults have an alcohol use disorder. This means that one in 10 children live in a home with a parent who drinks too much. It can be challenging to address active alcoholism, especially with someone that you love.
Constantly worrying about someone’s drinking can also take a toll on family members. If an alcoholic you love is refusing treatment, you have options that will benefit both you and the person suffering from addiction.
One of the most important things you can do is to educate yourself on the disease of alcoholism. You may gain insight into the signs of addiction, and get a deeper understanding of why alcoholics act certain ways. While familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of alcoholism is key, you also may want to share different treatment options with your loved one.
If they have refused to attend inpatient treatment in the past, consider researching outpatient treatment options available to you. For extra support, many families also work with an intervention specialist. Addiction Campuses offer these treatment services throughout the U.S.
Is My Loved One Really An Alcoholic?
Alcohol addiction can manifest in many different ways. For some people, what begins as an occasional social drink can morph into daily drinking. Some people become dependent on the substance before they even realize what’s happening. When a person is dependent on alcohol, they require the substance in order to function normally.
Other people may feel that as long as their job and home is intact, they must not “be that bad.” That said, if alcohol has caused a person to experience emotional difficulties or problems at work, home, or school — they are likely struggling with alcohol abuse.
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People who are not yet physically dependent are still at risk for alcohol-related health concerns. Additionally, just one instance of alcohol abuse can cause a person to put themselves in a dangerous or illegal situation.
Alcoholism is a disease that can result from alcohol abuse. Alcoholism often leads people to consume large, frequent amounts of alcohol. This can lead to cravings, physical dependence, and an inability to control how much alcohol a person drinks.
People who suffer from alcoholism may hide drinks or lie about the amount they consume. These types of behaviors are “red flag” indications that a person is struggling with alcoholism.
Additional signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism include:
- memory loss while drinking, or “blacking out”
- drinking alone
- disinterest in events that do not involve alcohol
- financial problems
- relational issues at home or work
- inability to focus
- anxiety or depression
- unsuccessful attempts to reduce the amount they drink
- alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including shaky hands, sweating, or pounding heart
What Does Addiction Treatment Mean?
At Addiction Campuses’ rehab programs, addiction treatment refers to a spectrum of therapies aimed at helping a person recover from alcohol abuse. It can be difficult to realize that someone you love is battling alcoholism. Fortunately, there are rehab centers that offer addiction treatment services to help the alcoholic as well as their family.
Addiction treatment programs can be inpatient (residential) or outpatient. While no one type of treatment is best for everyone, experts agree that treatment lasting at least 90 days is associated with better health outcomes.
Many people who suffer from alcoholism need to detox from the substance before they begin treatment. People who are alcohol-dependent should not just stop drinking suddenly, as this can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Medically supervised detox programs are the safest way to detox from alcohol. Addiction Campuses’ rehab programs offer on-site detoxification.
In an inpatient treatment program, patients temporarily live in the rehab center’s structured, stable environment. During the day, patients engage in treatment therapies like group counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Addiction Campuses also provide alternative treatment approaches, including mindfulness and wilderness therapy.
Outpatient treatment programs often utilize similar therapies, and are offered on a more flexible schedule. These programs are a helpful alternative for those who cannot attend inpatient treatment due to personal or professional commitments.
How To Approach Your Loved One About Alcoholism Treatment
Researchers state that addiction treatment does not have to be voluntary, in order to be successful. As challenging as it may be, your loved one needs to hear about your concerns from you. If you are afraid that someone close to you is suffering from alcoholism, tell them how you feel and what behaviors are causing you concern.
If your friend or family member is unwilling to listen to the treatment options you share, it may be time to utilize an intervention technique. Interventions are supportive confrontations, in which people ask their loved one to seek professional help. There are several types of interventions, including:
Friend And Family Interventions
In this type of intervention, a group of friends or family members sit down with the person struggling with alcoholism. They may begin by voicing their love for the person, and the concerns they have about their drinking.
A family member may share specific situations that have been scary, or discuss how the person’s drinking has impacted the family. These conversations can be emotionally difficult, so try to keep the discussion as straight-forward as possible. Let the person know that you love them, that you are worried about their substance abuse, and that you have treatment options available.
If your loved one refuses addiction treatment, simply reiterate what you’ve already stated. While your love and support will not be withdrawn, there may be new financial boundaries or living situation requirements. Be clear, stick to your plan, and let the person know that the intervention comes from a place of love.
Because interventions can be difficult to navigate, many families find it helpful to have a professional therapist present. These are trained counselors who specialize in bringing families together for recovery purposes.
A professional interventionist helps to keep the conversation solutions-based. Because the interventionist is not intimately connected to the person, they are able to be an objective guide throughout the conversation.
Finding Help And Support For Your Family
After an intervention, your loved one may still refuse to enter treatment. This can feel devastating for the family. As difficult as it may be, the best thing you can do is remain patient and hopeful. Unfortunately, sometimes people suffering from alcoholism delay treatment until they have a social or legal consequence (like an arrest).
While you are waiting for your loved one to consider getting help, there are things you can do to take care of yourself. Alcoholism is a disease that impacts the entire family, and finding support is a key part of recovering from alcohol addiction. Twelve step support groups like Al-Anon can be extremely helpful for family members of alcoholics.
At Addiction Campuses, we acknowledge the deep pain that families feel for loved ones suffering from alcoholism. Our compassionate treatment teams regularly work with friends, spouses, and family members to ensure they get the help they need as well.
You do not have to carry the burden of family alcoholism alone. To learn more about what to do if an alcoholic refuses addiction treatment, reach out to one of our specialists today.Article Sources
MedlinePlus - https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholismandalcoholabuse.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants
National Institute on Drug Abuse - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/treatment-alcohol-problems-finding-and-getting-help