Ways to Address a Loved One Avoiding Getting Help For Their Addiction

Young couple problem

When it comes to addiction, one of the scariest ideas a person can face is the prospect of getting sober. I am not saying that people struggling with addiction do not want to get sober or realize that it will benefit them, because most people do understand this, at least on some level. However, the idea of getting sober is scary to someone with an addiction because it is a complex process. If getting sober were easy, then the person probably wouldn’t have an addiction in the first place. But, unfortunately, the first barrier to living a life of recovery is getting sober, and for many people the fear of this keeps them trapped in the cycle of addiction.

Someone with an addiction will often come up with every excuse imaginable to get out of going to rehab. Things can get rather frustrating for family members trying to help. If you are currently dealing with a loved one trying to get out of rehab for their addiction, know that this is very common. But just because it is a common occurrence, doesn’t mean that you should stop trying. Any excuse a person comes up with to get out of going to treatment has a variety of solutions that you can suggest to help solve the problem.

Below are some common excuses a person may give to get out of rehab and suggestions for responding.

I can’t go to treatment because I have kids.

Many people will often use their kids for the reason that the kids are unable to go to treatment. While this certainly makes things more complicated, having children is even more of a reason why a person should get help for their addiction than it is a reason not to get help. While it may be difficult figuring out who will care for the children while their parent is in rehab, this will be much easier to figure out than if the parent were going to prison or passed away due to their addiction. In this situation, the best thing to do is decide on a trusted friend or relative who can take care of the children while their parent is in rehab. This situation may seem less than ideal, but it is better than having the children continue living with a parent stuck in active addiction.

I can’t leave my job for that long.

Most employees can use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which provides up to twelve weeks of unpaid job-protected leave per year. However, it is essential to look into the requirements in your area, and for your loved one’s particular employment situation before deepening on this. If a person has been at a particular job for some time, most employers will support them in getting help for their addiction. A person in recovery is usually a much more reliable employee than someone in active addiction.

I can try to get sober at home on my own.

If your loved ones were able to get sober on their own at home, then they would have already done it. By the time a person’s family asks them to get help for their addiction, things have usually gotten pretty bad. There is nothing wrong with asking for or accepting help. If your loved one tries to say this to you, then it is important not to invalidate their feelings but to focus on the benefits of treatment and how it will help make things easier for them in the long run.

I don’t want to miss out on (insert special event here).

While it is understandable that your loved one wouldn’t want to miss out on a special family event, this isn’t a good enough reason to skip out on treatment. The best time for a person to get help for their addiction is right away. Let them know that there will always be next year and that you will do what you can to include them as much as possible while they are in treatment, whether it be with a visit or phone call.

Talking to a loved one

I can’t leave my house, plants, and pets for that long.

If a person starts listing things they can’t leave alone for an extended period, then begin enlisting the help of family and friends. For example, someone can check on their house and water their plants while they are in rehab. Also, see if there is another person who can help take care of the pets. Home responsibilities may make things more complicated at first but are usually easily handled with teamwork.

Who will take care of my financial obligations?

If your loved one tries to bring up financial obligations as a reason for not going to treatment, help them set up autopay for their bills. If there is someone who can help spot some money to cover bills while your loved one is in treatment, this can be of great help, too. If needed, they can also take out a loan to help cover expenses during this time. You can even help them make a list of all costs and cut out all non-essentials while your loved one is in treatment.

I don’t want to miss out on school.

The school will still be there when your loved one finishes treatment. If anything, your loved one will probably perform better in school once they have entirely handled their addiction. While education is undoubtedly important, it is not a valid excuse for getting out of going to addiction treatment. Education doesn’t mean much if a person has passed away from an overdose.

It didn’t work last time, so why bother trying again?

Sometimes a person will go to treatment and relapse later on. A relapse may be due to a variety of reasons. If a relapse occurs after treatment, it doesn’t mean that trying to go to treatment again won’t be successful. If anything, relapse after treatment usually indicates that something may have been missing or not fully addressed the first time, and another try at it may be just what your loved one needs to get things right.

I need to hit “rock-bottom” for rehab to work.

A person does not need to hit rock-bottom for treatment to be effective. It is never a good idea to wait for someone to hit rock-bottom before going to rehab; for far too many people, rock-bottom is death. The sooner a person can address their addiction, the better.

If you are having a hard time dealing with a loved one displaying these behaviors, you may find it helpful to speak with someone who has experience dealing with these sorts of situations. It’s important to remember that this is not something you have to face alone; several addiction specialists and professional interventionists have plenty of experience dealing with situations very similar to yours. If you feel overwhelmed, it may be a good idea to reach out for some professional help and guidance.



Reviewed by Matt Hawk, BS, CADC-II, ICADC



After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.