Medically Reviewed

5 Reasons Your Addicted Loved One is Refusing to Go to Treatment

- 7 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Watching someone struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol might make you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. It can be hard to understand why someone facing severe harm to their health, safety, and relationships might continue to abuse substances–and why they’d refuse to seek treatment.

Addiction isn’t a choice. It is a condition that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Addiction often has many complex roots in a person’s biology, environment, and life experiences. It is sometimes complicated for addicts to imagine life being different than it is, even when things are going wrong.

There are many reasons people refuse to go to rehab and several barriers preventing them from getting the help they need quickly. Knowing some of the most common reasons people don’t seek rehab may help you better understand an addicted loved one. It may also help you effectively encourage them to seek desperately needed treatment.

For more information about starting addiction treatment or support during recovery, reach out to the PAX Memphis staff today.

5 Reasons People Refuse to Go to Rehab

Sometimes, people are quick to think of addiction as a choice. When addicts refuse treatment, it can be incredibly frustrating. You might wonder if the person really wants to get better or assume they have nothing to gain from accepting sobriety.

The truth is that no one chooses addiction. There are often reasons people refuse to go to rehab. Here are five of the most common reasons people don’t seek rehab.

1. Denial

Denial is a powerful coping mechanism that prevents people from taking in the severity of their problems. Mental health specialists believe that, in some cases, denial can protect our minds from the reality of an overwhelming situation and allows people to cope with immensely stressful events.

When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, denial can keep them from seeing that their substance abuse has become a problem. People with addiction may lose jobs and relationships, face legal or financial trouble, or develop severe medical conditions and not realize they need help.

Even when others can see the severe, negative impact of addiction, the addict may continue to refuse treatment.

2. Fear of Rehab

Many people have anxiety about something new. Starting a new job, enrolling at a new school, moving to a new city–all of these can make people feel a little afraid. Going to rehab is a significant new experience that may trigger that fear. They may fear rehab will be like what they see on TV or in movies. It may be hard to imagine feeling safe or comfortable in a new place.

One of the most significant reasons addicts refuse treatment is because they fear going through detox. Most people require a period of medically-supervised detox before beginning a treatment program. Detoxification is a natural process, but it is often very uncomfortable.

As the body rids itself of toxins and adjusts to the absence of drugs and alcohol, people may experience various withdrawal symptoms. Common withdrawal symptoms include sweating, tremors, insomnia, nausea, and body aches. People may understandably fear long periods of discomfort as they go through withdrawal. This may prevent them from seeking treatment altogether.

3. Fear of Failure

Some people with addiction may have an intense fear of failure that prevents them from seeking treatment. They may worry that they’ll let themself down by relapsing after treatment, or they may think their friends and family will be disappointed.

The hard truth is that most people in recovery do experience at least one relapse. It’s essential to think about addiction recovery as a journey rather than a final destination. There are likely to be twists and turns and setbacks along the way. These are not signs that a person isn’t capable of succeeding.

4. Embarrassment

The stigma surrounding substance abuse and addiction can make people feel too vulnerable or embarrassed to seek treatment. In many cases, people may need to take time away from their daily lives to attend treatment. They may need to stop working or going to school and leave their families for some time.

An addicted loved one may feel embarrassed at the idea of their children, employer, friends, or coworkers knowing they are in treatment for addiction. The idea of admitting they have a problem and seeking treatment may seem worse than continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol.

5. Fear of Change

Most people have a fear of making big changes. In some cases, even when many parts of a person’s life are unhealthy or damaging, the idea of change is scary. People with addiction may hesitate to give up what is familiar–even when their substance abuse is wreaking havoc on their lives.

People may wonder what their life will be like in recovery. A second chance at life may feel less like an exciting opportunity and more like a heavy burden.

One of the most significant reasons addicts refuse treatment is because they don’t want to face the consequences of their addiction. They may fear that the reality of their broken relationships, health problems, missed opportunities, and lost memories may be overwhelming.

No one has to carry the weight of addiction alone. Comprehensive, compassionate treatment and support it available.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment or support during recovery, reach out today to the caring PAX Memphis specialists today. We can help you find treatment for yourself or a loved one, no matter your circumstances. Our talented admissions team is available 24 hours a day to take your call, verify your insurance, and help you begin your recovery. Call now to get started.