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Telling Your Family You’re Going to Rehab

Written by Melissa Carmona

& Medically Reviewed by Jenni Jacobsen, LSW

Medically Reviewed

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This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 02/06/21

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling 888-648-0738 now.

Having your family’s support during your recovery journey is important. These tips can help you have a meaningful conversation with them about rehab treatment.

Even if your friends and family support your decision to seek help, admitting you need professional intervention for a drug or alcohol addiction can be challenging. Your loved ones will understandably be worried about you and upset to learn that you have been struggling with substance abuse. Complicating matters, some loved ones may be unsupportive or try to make you feel ashamed for being in substance abuse recovery.

Though difficult, an honest conversation can help you gain their support so they can be included in your recovery journey. You will find that most loved ones support your decision to get help for a drug or alcohol problem, but even if they’re unsure, there are ways to convince them that this is the best choice for you.

Admitting You Need Help For Drug or Alcohol Abuse

Admitting that you need help is the first step toward recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. You may worry that needing help for drug and alcohol addiction is something to be ashamed of. The reality: being honest with yourself and your loved ones requires courage. Being vulnerable and admitting to your mistakes conveys strength rather than weakness.

Discussing Drug & Alcohol Treatment with Parents

If you are a teen or young adult looking to tell your family you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, you are probably worried about their reaction. You may fear their anger or punishment, but chances are they will be concerned for your health and well-being and want to do whatever is necessary to help you recover. While they may be shocked or upset by the news, they are unlikely to punish you, especially if you have an honest discussion and are willing to accept help.

Pick a time when you know you will have their full attention and can have an open conversation. Explain that you have been struggling with addiction, and you would like their help with getting into treatment so you can get better. You may even talk with them about some resources or treatment options you have explored, so they will know you are serious about getting help with substance abuse. An important distinction to note: if your relationship with your parents is harmful or they’re struggling with substances themselves, you may want to reach out to another adult you trust to get help.

Discussing Drug & Alcohol Treatment with Children

If you are preparing to tell your children that you want to go to rehab, the specifics of the conversation will vary depending on their age. If they are already adults, you may simply ask for their support and understanding. Though they may be worried or upset, your addiction may have had negative impacts on their lives as well, so they’ll want you to get the help you need. They may want to be a part of your support network, or they may not. If addiction has damaged the relationship with your children, additional work may be required to repair it first.

If your children are not adults, discussing your rehab stay can still help them know what to expect. Older children and teens can likely handle more details than younger children can.

Regardless of age, you’ll want to cover some important topics:

  • You’re getting help: Help them understand that you may be sick, but you are getting help from a doctor so you can get better.
  • What they can expect: Children will want to know who will be taking care of them and how their lives will look while you are gone.
  • Your addiction is not their fault: Children are more likely to internalize their parent’s addiction as something they did wrong. Clearing this up near the beginning and reinforcing it throughout the recovery process is important.
  • You’ll keep in touch: Whether through regular phone calls or video chats, explain how you will stay in contact. Some drug and alcohol rehab centers offer family visiting hours when children can come to see you. It can be a relief for them to know that they will still be able to visit with you from time to time.

What Are Reverse Interventions?

Hopefully, your loved ones will be supportive of your decision to get help for your substance abuse, but in some situations, they may be in denial or upset about your choice to go to rehab. In this case, you may have to perform a reverse intervention. During a reverse intervention, instead of simply sharing with your family that you would like to get help, you may have to talk them through their denial and strong emotions to convince them that you need treatment.

Preparing for a Reverse Intervention

To prepare for a reverse intervention, you should be ready to have a calm but honest discussion. Writing down what you would like to say can help you stay calm and on-topic if you think the conversation may get particularly heated. Be prepared to listen to reactions from your loved ones, even if they are negative. Your relatives may be deeply upset by the thought of having an addiction in the family, so be ready for strong emotions during the discussion. Listening to your loved ones’ perspectives may bring some of their defenses down.

Start the conversation by telling your family that you have spent a lot of time thinking about your options and looking into rehab facilities in your area, ultimately deciding that treatment is the best option for you. It can help to dispel some of the common myths about addiction and rehab; for instance, experts have accepted that addiction is a brain disease that can be treated, not a character flaw as some would believe. Educating your family about the nature of addiction may ease some of their negative feelings.

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If this approach is not effective, explain to your loved ones that they are the most influential people in your life, and having their support through this journey might be what helps you recover. Framing the situation that way can help them view your choice in a more positive light.

When Your Decision To Get Sober Is Not Supported

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your family may not agree with your choice to go to rehab. In this scenario, set boundaries with them. They are welcome to be upset and work through their own emotions about your addiction, but the best choice for your health and wellbeing is to seek treatment. Hopefully, seeing your recovery later on, they will come to support your decision.

In other situations, loved ones may be hesitant to accept your choice to get help because they are struggling with an addiction themselves. Your choice to seek rehab may make them more aware of their own struggles with substance abuse. If they accept that you need help, they may feel forced to admit their own problem. You may offer to link them to treatment if and when they are ready, but continue to maintain your commitment to rehab treatment

If you live with a drug or alcohol addiction and are ready to make the courageous decision to seek treatment, The Recovery Village at Baptist Health is here to help. Contact us today to begin your journey toward a life that is free from drugs and alcohol.

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