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How to Get Someone to Go to Rehab

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When the late singer Amy Winehouse rocketed to superstardom with her brassy, anti-temperance anthem “Rehab,” she and her devil-may-care attitude toward alcohol and excess were celebrated. The song and its refrain — “They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said, ‘no, no, no…’” — gained ubiquity. In nightclubs, elevators, shopping malls, and drugstores the world over the tune played endlessly. 

Yet, with all its swagger and defiance, the song, especially that refrain, would presage Winehouse’s decline and untimely death, which was caused by alcohol toxicity. As a result, a smirking, freewheeling anthem served as a grim commentary that highlights the necessity of addiction treatment. Her fate also begs this question: What if she had indeed gone to rehab and achieved sobriety? 

The best way to get you or a loved one to go to rehab is by staging an intervention. Staging an effective intervention can indeed be life-saving. Read on to find out how to conduct one.  

Signs Someone Needs to Go to Rehab

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.” 

People in the throes of addiction typically exhibit physical signs and compulsive behaviors around their use. The signs can be quite obvious, and at other times they can be subtle. In an article published three years before Winehouse’s death, a Rolling Stone writer suggested that the singer’s surroundings resembled the life of someone in the throes of addiction:  

All around her, Winehouse’s home is in disastrous disarray: Discarded bags of potato chips, crumpled nuggets of tinfoil, beer bottles, lingerie boxes, and scattered old credit cards tell of a long night that hasn’t ended in weeks, maybe months. 

In any event, the following examples can serve as proof of a growing addiction:  

  • Changes in appearance; the person looks disheveled, tired, rundown or haggard; bloodshot eyes
  • Increased tolerance to alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances
  • Isolation or avoiding interaction with others
  • Displaying forgetfulness or a fuzzy recollection of events that have occurred (Sometimes, these episodes are referred to as blackouts or brownouts.)
  • Risky handling of finances
  • Being negligent when it comes to responsibilities like work or school
  • Participating in risky behaviors that endanger themselves or others
  • Mood swings and/or irrational behavior
  • Decline in mental and/or physical health
  • Sudden health challenges and complications

If you recognize any of these signs in you or a loved one, it might be time to consider rehab. 

The Characteristics of Addiction

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which serves as the principal authority for psychiatric diagnoses. 

The DSM-5 outlines verified and evidenced criteria concerning addiction. According to the manual, if someone displays two of the following symptoms over 12 months, then they may have an addiction:

  • Taking more of the drug than intended and for a longer time than intended
  • A persistent desire to stop taking drugs or repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit taking drugs
  • A lot of time spent trying to get drugs, abuse them, and/or recover from their effects
  • Intense cravings or urges for specific drugs
  • Failing to go to work or school, or to meet obligations to friends and family because of drug abuse
  • Ongoing drug abuse despite physical, mental, emotional, or social problems associated with the abuse
  • Giving up hobbies or activities to abuse drugs
  • Ongoing abuse of drugs in inappropriate situations, such as using them in the morning before work, driving while intoxicated, or abusing drugs around children
  • Experiencing physical or psychological problems due to substance abuse but continuing to abuse drugs anyway
  • Physical tolerance, meaning the body needs more of the drug to experience the original level of intoxication
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when trying to quit the drug

How to Get Someone to Go to Rehab

An intervention is one of the most effective tools for getting someone to go to rehab. An intervention occurs when people of value to the person struggling with an addiction gather to encourage him or her to seek treatment.

The Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) suggests that up to 90 percent of interventions succeed at getting the subject to go into treatment. The more effective the intervention, the better its chances of achieving its goal: getting that person to go to rehab.

All effective interventions, whether it is for alcohol or drugs, share key features that make them successful. 

If you are intent on getting your loved one the help they need, you should consider and incorporate the following suggestions to maximize your chances at staging an effective intervention: 

  • Seek the help of a professional — from an interventionist, therapist, or other licensed mental health professional to facilitate the meeting: A certified addiction interventionist, therapist, or mental health professional will know the ins and outs of creating the best atmosphere for effective intervention. They will help your family prepare for and stage the intervention. Additionally, a professional will help you understand what to do and what to avoid when your loved one leaves for treatment. This certified intervention specialist will also help you arrange treatment options, including where to send your loved one for therapy. This person will be equipped to set this all up before the actual intervention takes place.
  • Establish a strong, actionable plan before the intervention. Careful planning is essential to orchestrating an effective intervention. This planning includes a rehearsal period where everyone involved practices what they will say beforehand. Family members and friends can rehearse the written letters they plan on reading to the subject. Such measures will help the intervention stay on course. Also, all persons involved should have a clear understanding of how the meeting should play out. 
  • Consider the timing of intervention. The person who is the subject of the intervention has to be in the right frame of mind. You do not invite the person to an intervention if he or she is drunk, high, or going through withdrawal. When a subject is at their most physically and mentally balanced, it increases the chances of an effective gathering. What’s more, it is important that you allow for enough time to hold the meeting and that it proceeds with minimal to zero distractions. It’s worth noting that if the subject is experiencing painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms while in an intervention, they will be less likely to engage in the meeting.  
  • Never go off script. There is too much at stake, namely the life, health, and well-being of your loved one, to “freestyle” an intervention. Interventions that go off the rails because they’re unorganized only increases the risk of failure. A failed intervention happens when your loved one finds an opportunity to divert the focus of the gathering or argues that they do not need rehab. Ultimately, bad planning can sabotage your desired result: getting your loved one to get treatment.
  • Be honest with the person who needs the intervention. The best thing you can do for the person who needs the intervention is to be honest. Any misleading, lying or equivocating won’t help them. If that person picks up on any dishonesty, he or she might resent being there and refuse to participate, which destroys the whole purpose of the intervention. The best thing everyone can do is be honest about how your loved one’s behaviors have impacted their lives. This will give the subject an accurate view of their addiction and how it affects others. This understanding can compel your loved one to want to change and be willing to accept help. 
  • Anticipate possible objections and roadblocks. The person at the center of the intervention could get defensive. They could throw out objections such as, “I don’t have a problem. I can stop at any time.” or “This is my problem, and I can handle it on my own. I don’t need help.” In this instance, it is critical to remind your loved one of the damage their substance abuse has caused, particularly if it resulted in health or legal complications. You can also objectively point out documented incidents of substance abuse. By ensuring that your evidence is ironclad, you protect yourself from any excuses or objections the person might use to invalidate your points. 
  • Keep the intervention on track. Never allow the intervention to stray from its intended purpose: to get your loved one to go to rehab. When you go off topic or allow the meeting to spin out of control, it prevents the issue at hand — your loved one’s addiction — from getting the attention it needs so that he or she can seek help. It can also result in a profoundly negative experience for all involved, where arguments and personal attacks mar the whole meeting. 

It’s important to understand that, even with the best intentions, interventions do not always go as planned. The important thing to remember is that an organized, efficient, well-planned, and objective intervention has a strong chance of convincing your loved one that they need treatment.  

What Rehab or Addiction Treatment Offers

A professional recovery program for a substance addiction starts with acute treatment, where you or your loved one receives a medically supervised detox. A staff of doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel oversee the detox, and the addictive substance and other toxins are removed from the body. Also, any withdrawal symptoms that arise are medically treated. 

Depending on the severity and nature of the addiction, the next treatment step is typically clinical stabilization services, where you will receive therapy and counseling to help you get to the root of your addiction.  

Clinical stabilization services can offer a range of treatment options, including:

Holistic treatments

  • Acupuncture/acupressure
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional assessments
  • Reiki
  • Yoga

Group therapy

  • Emotional regulation
  • Medical education
  • Motivational enhancement
  • Relapse prevention
  • The 12 steps of recovery
  • Wellness skills

Individual therapy

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills
  • Genetic testing
  • Family-focused therapy
  • Trauma-informed sessions

You can receive additional counseling and therapy on a part-time basis in outpatient care, which can come after acute treatment or clinical stabilization. 

After treatment, case managers help connect clients to recovery communities like 12-step, which provide long-term support and help prevent relapse.  

These steps comprise the continuum of care, which offers clients holistic and multidimensional levels of treatment.This is the process for addictions to alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, or stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine.

Sources

Addiction Intervention. (2015, January 21). Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/content/addiction-intervention

Amy Winehouse inquest: Singer drank herself to death. (2013, January 08). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-20944431

Delphi Behavioral Health Group. (2019, January 08). Families Guide to Drug Addiction and Treatment Centers. Retrieved from https://delphihealthgroup.com/treatment-guide/

Hoffman, C., & Hoffman, C. (2018, June 25). Up All Night With Amy Winehouse. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/up-all-night-with-amy-winehouse-192275/

Medina, J. (2018, November 19). Revised Alcohol/Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/addictions/substance-use-disorder-symptoms/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/science-drug-use-addiction-basics

What is an Intervention? Learn About Intervention. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.associationofinterventionspecialists.org/learn-about-intervention/

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