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How to Convince an Alcoholic to Go to Rehab


Dealing with an alcoholic loved one is never easy and, oftentimes, convincing them to go to alcohol rehab is the hardest part. When someone refuses the treatment being offered to them, it is devastating to the entire family who just wants to see their loved one get healthy. In many cases, people don’t believe that they have a problem or that their drinking is affecting anyone but themselves. Even in the case of a worsening physical, mental, or social problem, many chronic drinkers live in a state of denial where they don’t see how bad their drinking has become.

As a result, it usually takes a pretty big event or wake-up call for a person to admit they need help themselves. However, there are certain steps you can take to convince an alcoholic to go to rehab.

Educate Yourself on the Disease of Alcoholism

Before you can help someone with a drinking problem, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself on the disease of alcoholism. It can be easy to think of alcoholism as a choice and become resentful that your loved one won’t just stop. However, according to the American Psychiatric Association and several other renowned medical institutions, addiction and alcoholism are complex brain diseases characterized by compulsive substance use.[1] It is caused by a variety of biological, social, and environmental factors and requires long-term treatment. For this reason, your loved one may not be able to just stop drinking. They may experience intense physiological cravings for alcohol that drive them back to the bottle time and time again. If you truly want to help someone suffering from alcoholism, you must understand that they are sick and require professional treatment.

In addition to educating yourself about the disease of alcoholism, it’s important to educate yourself on the recovery process, as well. If you’re looking for a place to start, our alcohol rehab in Fort Lauderdale provides immense recovery resources to people in the area and their families. By educating yourself on addiction as well as what it takes to stay sober, you can be ready to support your loved one when you finally convince them to get help.

Set and Enforce Healthy Boundaries

When trying to convince an alcoholic to go to rehab, perhaps one of the most important things you can do is to set and enforce healthy boundaries. This involves identifying and understanding your needs, communicating clearly, and standing up for yourself. When you set boundaries with an addicted loved one, you begin to enforce a level of control and stability in the relationship. At the same time, you stop acting out on enabling or codependent behaviors that may otherwise contribute to your loved one’s drinking.[2]

When you set boundaries with an alcoholic, you are letting them know what behaviors will no longer be tolerated and what changes you expect to see. You should also outline clear consequences that will occur if your loved one does not respect a boundary. Some examples of boundaries that one may set with an alcoholic include:

  • Not allowing the alcoholic to come into the home while intoxicated
  • Refusing to bail the person out of jail or solve legal problems for him/her
  • Not providing financial support or doing things for the person that they are capable of doing themselves
  • Requiring the alcoholic to seek treatment

In addition to setting these boundaries, it is even more important to enforce them. When you enforce boundaries, you are actually helping convince an alcoholic to go to rehab because they will begin to see that people are no longer standing by their destructive behaviors. Examples of enforcing boundaries include:

  • Kicking the alcoholic out of the home if they overstep a boundary
  • Refusing to provide financial assistance if they get in trouble
  • Changing the locks on the home if the home is not respected

Although taking these measures may seem harsh, enforcing the consequences that come with boundaries is essential. If you don’t enforce your boundaries, the alcoholic will likely take advantage of you and continue drinking. However, once an alcoholic realizes there is nobody left to enable their drinking, they will be more inclined to seek professional help.

Stage an Intervention to Get an Alcoholic to Go to Rehab

If you have already confronted your loved one, set boundaries, and enforced your boundaries, yet they still won’t accept help, staging an intervention may be the next step in convincing an alcoholic to seek rehab. Interventions are conducted under the supervision and guidance of an intervention specialist and involve groups of people who confront alcoholics about their drinking. During an intervention, members of the group will express their concerns to their loved ones and explain why they want their loved ones to get help.

The ultimate goal of an intervention is to make an alcoholic see how their drinking affects others and convince them to go to an alcohol rehab near them. Working together with a trusted treatment provider will help keep the discussion peaceful and productive while also offering the alcoholic a form of help. If your loved one has been unwilling to seek alcohol treatment for some time, it may be time to consider staging an intervention.

Practice Empathy With your Loved One

As you convince an alcoholic to go to rehab, you need to apply empathy. This means doing your best to understand how the alcoholic feels, so you can help him or her. For example, alcoholics struggle to stop drinking since they form an addiction to it. 

Instead of getting upset with your loved one, you should focus on understanding his or her perspective. That way, your loved one becomes more receptive to your words and advice.

Take Care of Yourself Too

Even though you want to help an alcoholic, you need to take care of yourself. This means making sure you maintain your physical and mental health, so you can avoid problems. Otherwise, you run the risk of making life more difficult for yourself, so you can’t provide as much help in the future.

In short, by taking care of yourself physically and mentally, you can prepare yourself to take care of an alcoholic you care about.

Avoid Shame, Guilt, and Pleading

As you work with an alcoholic, you must never make him or her feel shame or guilt. If your loved one relapses, you need to show support and help him or her rather than getting upset. Otherwise, you run the risk of causing your loved one to fall back into alcoholism if you react negatively.

You also need to avoid pleading with an alcoholic since doing so may cause him or her to overlook the addiction.

Find Help for an Alcoholic Loved One Today

Convincing an alcoholic to go to rehab is no easy task. In fact, many of our Fort Lauderdale addiction experts have been there themselves and know how difficult it is to either agree to get help or help someone who is suffering see the truth. However, we have also seen people who were once unwilling to get help blossom into successful people in recovery. If you have a loved one who can’t stop drinking, don’t lose hope. Contact us today to see how our family program can help you and your loved one get help for alcoholism.


  1. What Is a Substance Use Disorder?
  2. What Is an Enabler

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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