FAQs for Loved Ones

family hugging

The following quote from Mitch Winehouse from the book Amy, My Daughter rings true for countless parents all over the world: “Perhaps the most difficult thing about loving and helping an addict, which most people who haven’t been through it don’t understand, is this: every day the cycle continues is your new worst day. When looked at from the outside it seems endless, the same thing over and over again; but when you’re living it, it’s like being a hamster on a wheel. Every day there’s the chronic anxiety of waiting for news, the horrible rush when it turns out to be bad, the overwhelming sense of déjà vu – and the knowledge that, despite your best efforts, you’ll probably be here again.” 1 Living with an addict may feel like an insurmountable situation, but know that help for families of addicts is available. We hope the following questions and answers will help everyone who feels like a hamster on a wheel due to a loved one’s addiction.

How Do Support Groups for Families of Addicts Help?

Loving a drug addict is exhausting and discouraging and can give rise to a broad range of feelings including anger, guilt, fear, loss, depression and denial. Many people feel alone in their struggle and don’t know where to turn. Support groups help parents or other family members deal with issues related to their loved one’s addiction through education and sharing. In a non-judgmental setting, people come together and talk about their struggles, share thoughts and help each other devise healthier coping mechanisms, typically with a trained facilitator. Talking to other people struggling with the same issues can be empowering, encouraging and life-affirming. Being in a supportive environment helps people realize they didn’t cause, can’t control or cure addiction, but they can find ways to help loved ones and themselves address addiction’s many challenges.2 Most rehab facilities offer family therapy and support groups. There are several family support groups available in communities across the U.S. including Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL), Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Gam-Anon, Co-Dependents Anonymous (CODA) and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA).3

How Much Does Rehab Cost?

The cost varies considerably by organization and facility. Many of Elements’ rehab facilities accept multiple insurance carriers, although this varies by treatment center. We believe the expense of recovery treatment should not prohibit you or your loved one from attending the very best rehab program available — which means individualized care and a multidisciplinary approach addressing all aspects of addiction. Our admissions advisors work directly with your insurance company to ensure you obtain the most coverage possible under your plan. We’ll help you find the optimal facility for you and take care of all the logistics so that you can focus on recovery. To begin your journey, call us today at 888-936-8796.

Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab?

Watching a child struggle and suffer from an addiction is among the most difficult things a parent can endure. As much as parents would like to insist a loved one checks into rehab, it is not a cut-and-dried situation. If family interventions and ultimatums don’t work, it is possible to get a loved one committed involuntarily to a rehab center via an emergency order through the courts in some states. Many additional states are pushing for such laws, although proposed legislation faces hurdles as proponents of this approach are discovering in Pennsylvania. If enacted, the law would let family members petition to involuntarily commit a relative to rehab. A separate bill is in the works allowing involuntary treatment of a drug user after an overdose. Opponents such as the ACLU say although drug and alcohol addiction are serious problems, “We have concerns about this approach undermining people’s fundamental rights to liberty.”4

The process is not as easy as simply dropping someone off at a facility. It requires a screening investigation conducted by mental health and addiction professionals as well a police officer. Your loved one will be taken into custody and evaluated to see if they qualify for emergency involuntary treatment. Although each state has different qualifications, basic requirements include a lack of control, using drugs on a daily basis, physical and mental health problems caused by addiction, and anything else threatening the safety and health of themselves and others. The addict will feel betrayed and the consequences are difficult to face, but doing nothing too often ends in tragedy.5

An addict can also be forced into mandatory rehabilitation for a drug or alcohol addiction ordered by a judge as part of a court ruling. It is usually in lieu of a prison term and is a common occurrence for law-breakers who were under the influence of a substance, whether illicit or legal, when they committed a crime. The rehab facility is chosen based on the type and severity of addiction, availability of beds and the crime committed.6

What to Say to Someone in Rehab?

Parents, friends and family members often struggle with what to say to loved ones in rehab. While it may be tempting to talk about the past and future plans, this is counterproductive and can be harmful. The recovering addict needs to stay focused on the present and treatment goals and not get distracted by what the future holds. Keep conversations light and say encouraging things, such as how proud you are of their commitment to get well. If the person starts complaining about something happening at the facility, encourage them to discuss it with their therapist. Asking questions about how treatment is going and what they are doing is fine as long as you maintain a positive tone. Doing so will demonstrate you are interested and supportive of their recovery.7

  1. Amy, My Daughter Quotes. Good Reads website. https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/18261781-amy-my-daughter Accessed March 7, 2017.
  2. The PAL Story. PAL website. https://palgroup.org/about/the-pal-story/ Accessed March 7, 2017.
  3. Help for Families with Addiction. Addictions and Recovery website. https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/families-and-addiction.htm Updated February 28, 2017. Accessed March 7, 2017.
  4. Karen Langley. Pa. weighs proposals to force drug addicts into treatment. The Inquirer. February 20, 2017. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/Should-Pa-considers-bills-that-would-let-families-commit-involuntary-treatment-for-addicts-.html Accessed March 7, 2017.
  5. Court Ordered Rehab: All You Need To Know. Addiction Resource website. https://addictionresource.com/drug-rehab/court-ordered/ Accessed March 7, 2017.
  6. How to Get Someone Court-Ordered Drug Treatment. Drug Rehab website. http://www.drugrehab.org/how-to-get-court-ordered-drug-treatment/ Published July 19, 2016. Accessed March 7, 2017.
  7. No More Enabling website. How to Support Someone in Drug Rehab. http://nomoreenabling.com/how-to-support-someone-in-drug-rehab/ Accessed March 7, 2017.


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