Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab in California?

can you force someone to go to rehab

Millions of people in America live with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Prolonged substance abuse can wreak havoc on many aspects of a person’s life. Without treatment, people living with substance abuse or addiction are more likely to face severe harm to their mental and physical wellbeing, relationship strain, and legal or financial difficulties.

Watching someone you love as they live with addiction and its consequences can be painful. If you have a loved one who struggles with substance abuse, you likely understand the anger, guilt, sadness, or despair of seeing them move deeper into the addiction. It may feel as though the person is slipping through your fingers.

Comprehensive addiction treatment can give people the support and coping skills they need to overcome addiction and live healthy, fulfilling lives. Going through treatment can be life-changing–or life-saving.

But what if your loved one refuses to go to treatment? While it isn’t possible to force someone to go to rehab in California, there are steps you can take to help your loved one move past denial and refusal so they become willing to accept the help they need.

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction

The first step in seeking addiction treatment is recognizing that your loved one is struggling with substance abuse. Addiction has many physical and behavioral symptoms, including:

  • Using more of the substance than intended
  • Developing tolerance–needing more of the substance to get the same effects
  • Suffering injuries, accidents, or financial and legal difficulties related to substance abuse
  • Continuing to use substances despite negative consequences
  • Being unable to keep up at work, school, or responsibilities at home
  • Lying, hiding, or covering up substance use
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when substances are not being used

You may recognize the physical effects of addiction, like marks on the person’s body, weight gain or loss, or neglected hygiene. Or, you may find drug paraphernalia in the home or your loved one’s personal belongings.

Once you recognize your loved one needs help, you must take action to get them the help they need–even if they are refusing to go to rehab.

Convincing a Loved One to Go to Rehab

In some cases, simply having a conversation is enough to convince someone you love to go to rehab. Let your loved one know that you are worried about them by discussing how specific behaviors of theirs are troublesome or concerning. Make sure you don’t shame or berate your loved one, though, because they need your support now more than ever.

Unfortunately, many people who suffer from addiction also struggle with denial. They don’t believe their substance abuse has become problematic or they think their actions are only affecting themselves. These beliefs can make a person refuse to seek treatment.

Setting Boundaries

If your loved one refuses to go to rehab, you must set and enforce boundaries right away. The best way to do this is to put an end to all enabling behaviors. Enabling a person’s addiction describes actions taken that allow a person to continue engaging in addictive or harmful behaviors. For example, you are enabling if you loan your loved one money that is used on drugs or alcohol or make excuses for them when they are behaving badly.

Let your loved ones know that you will not enable their addictive behaviors, but that you will help them find treatment when they are ready to do so.


An intervention may be successful in convincing your loved one to seek treatment, especially if they are in denial. An addiction intervention is a carefully planned event where friends and family of the addicted person gather together to share their concerns and offer to help the person start treatment immediately.

During an intervention, group members take turns rehearsing impact statements which inform the addicted individual of the ways in which their addiction is impacting others. These impact statements are meant to strike an emotional chord with the person struggling with addiction so that they become more open to the idea of going to rehab.

While drug and alcohol interventions are often highly successful, there are cases where the addicted person refuses to seek treatment. In these cases, concerned loved ones may wonder if they can force someone to go to rehab.

Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab in California?

No one chooses their addiction. Addiction is a complex condition that can cloud a person’s judgment and cause them to act in ways that cause harm to themselves and others. In some cases, concerned friends and family must step in and do everything in their power to force their loved ones into treatment.

Unfortunately, you can’t force your loved one to make a decision that they don’t want to make. Addiction treatment centers will only treat individuals who have consented to receiving care unless they are mandated to the facility by the court system.

Forcing someone to go to rehab against their will can make them angry, defiant, and distrustful. Instead, it’s best to focus on lending your support so your loved one knows where to turn when they are finally willing to get help.

Get a Professional Involved

While you can’t physically force someone into a rehab center, you can encourage them to schedule a doctor’s appointment or speak with an addiction specialist on the phone for a consultation.

If you schedule a doctor’s appointment, try to speak with the doctor beforehand to inform him or her of your concerns. This way, your doctor can speak with your loved one individually about his or her substance abuse, how it is affecting their health, and what the best treatment route is.

Another option is to get your loved one on the phone with an addiction specialist. Even though your loved one may not take what you are saying to heart, they may be more open when speaking with a stranger who is trained in dealing with people who struggle with addiction. An addiction specialist can help your loved one break past the barriers that are stopping them from accepting help or debunk the myths your loved one may believe about treatment or recovery.

In many cases, putting your loved one’s health in the hands of an addiction professional is the best thing you can do.

Get Help Now

Oftentimes, all you need to do to convince your loved one to go to rehab is to get them on the phone with an addiction professional. Here at Sheer Recovery, our admissions coordinators are experts at convincing people to understand the need for treatment. We truly excel in convincing even the most defiant individuals to go to rehab.

If you are seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to the staff at Sheer Recovery today. We’re available 24/7 to take your call and facilitate a risk-free consultation.


Still have questions? Give us a call today.

  • No Obligation When You Call
  • All Contact Is Completely Confidential
  • Expert and Caring Staff Ready For You

Call Today: (888) 743-3751

"*" indicates required fields

Call Now Button