When talking about the misuse of drugs and alcohol, particularly when it comes to a loved one, we can’t deny the destructive nature of substance use disorders and how they affect the individual along with all those that are close to them. 

It’s clear as day that they’re suffering, and we know that by getting the help they need, they could be on their way of freeing themselves. But somehow, they aren’t able to see it for themselves. Admitting they need help can be incredibly scary as it forces them to make a commitment they may not be ready for. 

Deciding to enter an addiction and treatment facility is life-changing, making it a frightening experience. Yet, it’s a critical step for the friend or family member who struggles with substance abuse to get better and beat this illness once and for all. But waiting for them to make the first move or constantly pushing them to go to rehab will rarely work. 

Our first instincts will almost always be to reach out to them and make them see things our way. Unfortunately, this approach tends to have the opposite effect to what we intended. It can even go so far as to push people further apart, sparking heated arguments, and resulting in our loved ones isolating themselves from us and refusing treatment altogether. So, what is there to do? How can you motivate a loved one to enter alcohol rehab or alcohol detox to overcome their addiction or alcoholism finally? 

Show Empathy

Having an addict in the family can be incredibly exhausting and frustrating. The more we try and reach out, the more stubborn our loved ones seem to become about accepting help from treatment centers. However, this is human nature. People will almost always want to make their own decisions. And when hooked to addictive substances that alter reasonable thinking, resistance to recovery programs can be even stronger. 

Sure, you may feel like you’re being pushed to your limits when a loved one is in this condition, and empathy may be the last thing you would want to offer. Yet, if someone feels forced into something, they are more likely to resist. This is why empathy is important. 

Showing empathy in these sorts of situations means that you should avoid disagreements and arguments as much as possible. It also means that you should avoid criticizing them and, instead, show concern. You should also ask more open-ended questions instead of making statements, and try to keep conversations generalized. In other words, you’re not looking to justify your point but rather, have the addicted person accept the fact that they have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse. 

Rehab Needs to Be Their Decision

The whole purpose of using empathy in your communication with an addict is for them to come to realize the benefits of going to rehab on their own. If they feel forced, they will offer more resistance, but by asking open-ended questions, you help them realize where they are at the moment and where they want to be in the future. Are they happy with their current life? How would they feel about going to an addiction center? What life changes do they think they need to make in order to get to where they want to go? 

While all of their answers should be considered, this is not the main purpose of these questions. What you are actually looking to achieve here is to have them answer them out loud so your loved ones can start thinking about these issues on their own. Offer them plenty of time and support by not pressing the subject constantly. Instead, check in from time to time and see how they feel about the idea of alcohol or drug rehab and whether they believe it would benefit them at that particular moment. 

Always Be Honest

While most addicts are fully aware of how much they are hurting themselves, they are rarely aware of how much it affects those around them. So, be honest and upfront about how their actions are affecting you. IF you don’t communicate with your loved one, you will be both living in denial, and nothing will change. In fact, the longer things remain the same, the harder it will be over the long-term. 

Ask For Help

While all of the examples pretested above will help you get your foot through the door and start the conversation about rehab centers and treatment programs, they may not always be enough. Do, however, keep in mind that you are not solely responsible for motivating your loved one to seek substance abuse treatment therapies. You can always enlist the help of others in your family or friends to help you out. 

There are also several other things you can do to motivate an addicted loved one to go to rehab. Among these, we can include things like:

  • Ask another friend or family member to help you. You deserve support and motivation too. 
  • Join groups such as Al-Anon, Nar-Amon, or SMART Recovery, as these are specifically dedicated to people whose loved ones struggle from substance addiction or are in recovery. 
  • Speak with a therapist or a counselor. Ask questions about rehab, holistic treatment, alcohol withdrawal, treatment process, treatment medications, levels of care, and the admission process. 
  • Attend Alcoholics Anonymous to gain a better understanding of the struggles of your loved one’s addiction. 
  • Ask someone that was in your situation and who knows what you are going through. They can answer your questions about treatment and also guide you through recovery and relapse prevention, not just getting your loved ones to agree to treatment. 
  • Speak with an addiction treatment specialist even before your loved one is ready to get help for their illness. This way, you will already have the right information and relevant background once they are ready. 
  • Consider holding an intervention. We do, however, suggest you work with a professional interventionist if you decide to go with this route. It’s not uncommon for emotions to run high during these events. Having a family therapy expert and professional interventionist there will serve as an unbiased third-party that can mediate the intervention and help diffuse and conflicts. 


Families and friends of people who abuse drugs and alcohol may not recognize it at first, but motivating their loved one who is a drug addict or alcoholic may be the key to helping them commit to rehab and recovery. Always keep in mind that by allowing your loved ones to feel comfortable around you, in a judgment-free environment, they will be more inclined to listen to your advice. They do need someone to help them come out of their comfort zone and take the necessary steps to get better. But whatever you choose to do, always keep in mind that you are not alone. If you’re hoping to encourage your loved one to seek help and go to rehab, you don’t need to sacrifice your own health to do so.