Can You Force an Addict Into Rehab?

Addiction has a way of clouding one’s mind to the extent that they’re often the last to realise how badly they need help. When it’s obvious that a close friend or family member needs rehab, is there any way to force them to go? We explore this question in depth here.

Can You Force an Addict Into Rehab


  • When it’s obvious that someone you love needs rehab, is there any way to force them to go?
  • When it’s obvious that someone you love needs rehab, is there any way to force them to go?

Watching your loved one succumb to the clutches of addiction is terribly distressing. You may even find yourself considering the possibility of forcing them into addiction treatment. As much as that sounds like wishful thinking, the team at The Cabin understands exactly where you’re coming from. Here’s our insight into what you can do when someone you care about doesn’t see the value in seeking the help they so desperately need.

Situations in Which an Addict Could go to Rehab Involuntarily

In cases where an adult is threatening to inflict harm on themselves or someone else, they can be forcibly hospitalised. This amounts to compulsory detox, rather than rehab, as they won’t receive any addiction treatment counselling or group therapy. With that in mind, the person isn’t going to receive the support needed to overcome their addiction, and they’ll most likely return to compulsory use once they get out.

Some criminal justice systems may apply legal pressure on someone with a drug-related conviction to enrol in a drug rehabilitation programme. This might be included in the conditions of parole or mandated in the wake of a drug-related conviction. Your local court system has this authority, but it takes more than the concern of loved ones to invoke it.

Even If You Could Force Them into Rehab, It Wouldn’t Necessarily Help

When you can see a person so visibly suffering with an addiction, it’s natural to want to help them. The fact that you can’t compel them to seek help can be frustrating – even downright discouraging. But forcing a person into addiction treatment may not be as effective as hoped.

There have been several studies exploring the efficacy of forced rehab, the majority of which look at those who were compelled to attend by the court system. Findings are mixed, but it’s clear from these studies that the active ingredient in a successful recovery is a genuine desire to get clean. Compulsory rehab can’t guarantee this.

Finding ways to legally force a person into drug or alcohol rehab – or even trying to compel them to enlist through guilt, shame or family responsibility – may not have the desired effect. In order for treatment to work, the person has to want to receive it. At minimum, they must acknowledge that they have a problem.

In life, the only person whose behaviour we can truly affect is our own. On that note, let’s explore a few steps you can take to help a loved one who’s struggling with addiction.

If I Can’t Force Them into Rehab, How Can I Help an Addict I Care About?

Even if you can’t force a person to enter rehab, it’s still possible to help them. Here are a few tips on how to accomplish that:

Learn about Addiction

Addiction is a brain-based disease, and it fundamentally changes the way a person thinks. It’s impossible to help an addict you care about without understanding the way their brain works. There are plenty of resources that can help you with this, beginning with the downloads on our resources page.

Schedule an Intervention

Staging a formal intervention is tricky business, and it’s liable to backfire. But if the person you care about is at least vaguely aware that they have a problem – and if it’s clear to them that you’re only trying to help them out of genuine love and concern – then a gentle intervention may help nudge them in the right direction. Feel free to contact us first for advice on how to do this effectively.

Stop Enabling Your Addicted Loved One

It’s all too common for loved ones of addicts to inadvertently enable their behaviour. You may find yourself cleaning up after them, making excuses for them and even filling in on their behalf. It’s important to understand that your enabling behaviour reduces the consequences of their bad decisions. Always be there to help them, but resist the urge to enable.

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Let Them Know You Support Them

Those who struggle with addiction often feel painfully alone. They need to believe that others care about them and are genuinely concerned with their wellbeing. You can be that person. Even when they let you down, it’s important that they know you’re still there to offer emotional support and unconditional love. This understanding could very well serve as an impetus to enter rehab.

The Cabin Chiang Mai Can Help You Help Your Loved One

Watching a person destroy themselves with drugs, alcohol or compulsive behaviour is beyond disheartening. It’s even more difficult when that person you care about doesn’t seem to care about their own wellbeing. But even if they’re resisting treatment, there’s always hope.

The addiction treatment specialists at The Cabin Chiang Mai work to help willing clients overcome addiction. We also advise concerned friends and family members on how to persuade those who need help to seek it. If you need guidance, our admissions team can call you to offer advice.