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How to Handle an Addict Who Isn’t Ready to Quit

In an ideal world, every person with addiction will arrive in rehab cognizant of the disorder and ready to get well. In reality, that is not how addiction (or people) work. It is a long process oftentimes to get a person with addiction to admit the need for help. Learn some ways to handle a loved one with addiction who is not ready to quit.

Understanding Addiction

The nature of addiction is both physical and psychological. When a person becomes addicted, the brain chemistry shifts and is hijacked by drugs which leave the person with addiction powerless to make changes and rational decisions. Since the person has come to depend on drugs to function, he or she will make excuses, justify the indefensible and put off treatment as long as possible.

Pushing for Rehab

There may be many ways for a person with addiction to get forced into treatment which can include:

  • Court order
  • Divorce
  • Loss of child custody
  • Hospitalization

While some people may flounder along the way, many go on to achieve long term sobriety regardless of entering treatment involuntarily. Sometimes it is for the best an individual is forced to see the error of one’s own ways through forced treatment which opens one’s eyes to the reality of addiction for the first (and hopefully last) time.


Most people with addiction develop a motivation to sustain recovery after being helped into treatment where the individual learns for the first time about the true nature of addiction. Techniques may be used to get people with addiction into treatment that work over time, even if it seems like right away it is not working. It is not possible to motivate a person who does not want to be motivated but often he or she just needs a little nudge to get moving in order to start the ball rolling.

How to Help

Loved ones can help by providing the following support for individuals living with addiction in a healthy manner:

  • Become educated on the nature of addiction as a chronic, progressive brain disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior even in the face of consequences
  • Practice good self-care to encourage and persuade but not try to control a loved one with addiction’s behavior (which can lead to enabling)
  • Set limits and boundaries which force the loved one to resume control over life, practice healthy detachment and safeguard health and well-being
  • Stage an intervention which can be highly effective in breaking up denial around the need for treatment

Know that it may not happen with one attempt, several may be required to ensure treatment happens and the person remains sober for life. The loved one with addiction may be angry and resentful but it necessary for the loved one to remain hopeful the individual with addiction can change. It helps to know a person did all that was possible to help, even if it doesn’t happen right away.


The Villa provides information and resources for loved ones with addiction. If you are struggling to cope with a loved one’s addictive behavior, call us. We can help guide you on the journey of healing.