Getting a Family Member into Rehab

One startling fact about drug rehab is that few people, substance abusers and their loved ones included, have an understanding of what actually takes place inside rehab walls. While the American public seems to accept that rehab is the most appropriate response for substance abuse treatment, little is known about treatment.

If you’re just getting started, keep these points of information in mind:

  • The numbers matter. In 2015, according to the National Survey on Substance Abuse Treatment Services, there were at least 17,669 rehabs in operation for alcohol and other drug treatment.1
  • The 12-Step model is very popular. Most rehabs base the psychotherapy component of their programs on the 12-Step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Finances typically determine the length of stay. Thirty days is not a scientific number for recovery.2 Some substance abusers and addicts require treatment for months and years. Unfortunately, insurance coverage and finances often determine the length of intensive treatment.

Rehab programs are almost as varied as the people who enter them. Since recovery services are not standardized, it is critical that anyone seeking treatment — whether for yourself or for a loved one —get as much information as you can before choosing a treatment program. The reality is that many people ask more questions when shopping for a phone than they do when selecting a drug treatment program. Ask a lot of questions. No question is off-limits. Treatment professionals want to help.

But first things first: When you have a loved one who needs addiction treatment, it is crucial to consider strategies to get the substance abuser to enroll in a program. And to know what the options are, should your loved one refuse to get help.

Rehab by Legal Force

Currently, more than 20 states allow family members to involuntary commit a substance abuser to rehab.3

Forced admission to an addiction treatment center comes down to balancing your addicted loved one’s liberties against his or her and the public’s safety. The process of involuntary commitment involves petitioning a court for permission, the procedure for which varies from state to state. In general, this safeguards adults against being confined in a state or medical facility.

In criminal cases, the courts usually have the power to involuntarily commit a substance abuser to rehab. When family members or loved ones assume that role, the onus is on them to make sure the rehab experience is successful.

The good news is, as strained or difficult as the process may seem, research shows that substance abusers forced into treatment do not experience worse outcomes than those who enter voluntarily.

Family members are often encouraged to be confrontational and lay down ultimatums about rehab, but those approaches may not work as well as others. Brute force, shame, and humiliation tactics do more harm than good. Current research suggests that substance abusers respond better to empathy, respect, support and kindness, and that these tactics leave them more open to getting the help they need.

For more information on involuntary commitment, contact a local private attorney, the local civil court, legal aid, or other legal advocacy groups. For more information on confronting a substance abuser, talk to an addiction specialist, or an intervention specialist.

Working with an Intervention Specialist

The Association of Intervention Specialists provides the public with a searchable professional network of intervention service providers. Full members are Certified Intervention Specialists. An interventionist works directly with loved ones to stage and moderate an intervention meeting with the substance abuser. Interventions often come as a surprise to the substance abuser. A newer approach is to give notice of the meeting to avoid any perception of hostility or ambush.4

A noted benefit of an intervention is that it sends a message to the substance abuser that her loved ones recognize the drug problem and are ready, willing and able to help take action to treat it. The goal is to get the person struggling with addiction to agree to the treatment program the family has already arranged.

Financing Rehab

The cost of attending rehab, which varies by program type and from program to program, may be an initial barrier to entry. However, the first step for a loved one is to determine which facilities are within range financially. If the substance abuser has insurance and is willing to go to rehab, the carrier should be contacted to learn the details of coverage. Where coverage is not available, it will be necessary to take an inventory of available financial resources.

If funds are not available to cover the cost of rehab, the following steps can be taken to help make drug treatment a possibility:

  • Research the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Visit or call our helpline to see if any low-cost insurance programs or government-subsidized care is available.
  • Work with the rehab facility. Some centers offer sliding scale fees that take into account income level and resources when determining the cost of care.
  • Try employer help. In some cases, an employer may be willing to cover the rehab costs for personal and/or business reasons.
  • Seek out a payment plan. Contact the rehab center to learn if a payment installment plan is available (there may be an initial down payment of 20 percent or more). Interest-free (up to a year or more) credit cards may be an option as well.
  • Liquidate assets. It is most advisable to consult with a financial planner or tax professional about the implications, but after assets are sold, funding options include private loans, borrowing from a retirement plan, and/or using credit cards.

Once the financial means to cover rehab are secured, most individuals and/or their loved ones find the admissions process welcoming. Some centers offer 24/7 admission and pickup services. Addiction professionals understand that the decision to start rehab does not always happen during business working hours, and for this reason, they make their services available day and night. Contact those rehab centers you’re most interested in to learn their availability and admissions policies upfront.

Role of Family in Rehab

Family members and loved ones will find that the rehab process welcomes their presence (after a certain period of time), input, and feedback. Rehab does maintain the privacy and confidentiality of clients, but it is not a closed process. Substance abusers also benefit from family involvement; the majority of those struggling with addiction seek rehab treatment because of their loved ones’ support and encourage them to do so.

Although substance abusers are physically separated from loved ones during a residential treatment program, loved ones can continue to play a supportive role in recovery. The distance can help bring clarity to the recovery process both for the substance abuser and loved ones. Loved ones are often more inclined to reflect on what role they might have played in the drug abuse.

Despite the distance, periodic visits, family therapy sessions, and on-site educational programs and workshops often help develop healthier relationship dynamics.

Family involvement is not limited to the treatment center experience. Family members are strongly encouraged to attend local Al-Anon and Nar-Anon support group meetings to better understand addiction and its impact on their lives.

Al Anon and Nar-Anon for Us

Al-Anon is a national network of support groups that are open to anyone who has been negatively affected by alcohol. To find a program, call 1-888-4AL-ANON. Similarly, Nar-Anon is dedicated to providing community to those impacted by a loved one’s drug abuse. Each support group offers free group meetings modeled on the 12-Step program, which promotes a spiritually conscious and healthy way of life. These groups are as helpful for family members as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are helpful to people in addiction recovery.

After Rehab

Just as loved ones help substance abusers with recovery, support services exist to help loved ones to also help themselves.

Substance abuse and addiction often catapult family members into a state of emotional chaos. As a result, considerable energy and resources are often dedicated to guiding a loved one into rehab. Though a family member with a loved one in rehab may have won the battle, the reality is that the war is likely not over.

After rehab, the individual needs to follow a good aftercare treatment plan. This could include going to AA or NA meetings. He should also carve out a new life path that does not include old people, places, and things that once stimulated drug use. Part of this process requires the recovering person to be accountable for himself. It is important for family members to learn the vital difference between being supportive and being an enabler.

Family members can benefit from both formal and informal guidance through the post-rehab process.They can find such assistance through group meetings, speaking with a counselor, or reading relevant self-help literature. Helping a loved one through recovery is a marathon, not a short race. Dedicating time and energy to staying physically and mentally healthy is not only one of the best things loved ones can do for themselves, but also for the recovering substance abuser as well.

Make the choice to get help by calling our helpline at 760-548-4032 today. We have professional admissions coordinators who will gladly answer your questions regarding treatment. We can even tell you what specific forms of treatment are covered by your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, that is not a problem either—we can provide you with affordable treatment options to help you or your loved one get the care they need. Don’t delay—start moving forward without drug abuse today.

Start the Journey Today!



1National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS-2015).” Substance Abuse & Mental Health Data Archive. Accessed 5 December 2017.

2 Allen, Ben. “How We Got Here: Treating Addiction In 28 Days.” NPR. 1 October 2016.

3 Moraff, Christopher. “New Laws Force Drug Users Into Rehab Against Their Will.” The Daily Beast.19 May 2017.

4Learn About Intervention.” Association of Intervention Specialists. Accessed 5 December 2017.