How to Tell Loved Ones You’re Going to Rehab

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Telling your family and friends that you’re going to rehab can be difficult. Even if they support your decision to seek rehab, admitting that you need help is often an emotional process, and your loved ones will understandably worry about you. On the other hand, some loved ones may be unsupportive or try to make you feel ashamed for struggling with addiction.

Though it can be challenging, telling your loved ones you’re going to rehab is an important conversation. A heartfelt conversation can help you garner their support and include them in your recovery journey. Regardless of your specific situation or your loved ones’ initial reaction to your decision to get help, it is important to have people in your corner.

Drug Treatment Innovation Blooms in the Garden State

The good news is that the avenues towards treatment are expanding in New Jersey. The state has developed initiatives surrounding law enforcement officers linking people to substance abuse treatment centers. The Attorney General has also created opioid response teams to provide interventions around-the-clock. In Camden County, most municipal courts are partnering with Project SAVE, which links non-violent drug offenders to treatment. This program aims to get people the help they need instead of sending them to jail.

These efforts represent a trend in which drug addiction is being viewed as a medical condition that is deserving of treatment rather than a criminal act that requires punishment. In New Jersey, people talking to friends and family about going to drug and alcohol rehab have more support than they may think.

The First Step is a Giant Leap: Admitting You Need Help

Admitting that you need help can be challenging, but it is the first step in the rehab and recovery process. Admitting you have a problem isn’t something to be ashamed of; being honest with yourself and your loved ones requires strength and courage. It shows you are willing to be vulnerable, admit your mistakes and take the steps necessary to correct them. After you admit to having a problem, you can begin your journey toward recovery and a positive outcome.

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 may be worried about their reactions. Asking your parents for help getting into treatment shows maturity. Chances are your parents will be most concerned for your wellbeing and will want you to get better.

Pick a time when you have their full attention and have an honest conversation. While they may be shocked or upset, they are unlikely to be angry or punish you, especially if you are willing to get help. If you have a good relationship with your parents, they can help you find a drug rehab to get the treatment you need. If you don’t have a good relationship or they’re struggling with addiction themselves, talk with an adult you trust to get help.

Discussing Drug & Alcohol Treatment with Children

If you are an adult telling your own children about the need for rehab, the discussion will vary depending on your child’s age. With adult children, you may simply ask for support and understanding. Your children may be worried or upset, but if addiction has had serious negative consequences in your life, it often also affects them. Your children may be happy you’re taking this step and can act as your support system during your treatment journey.

If your children are not grown, it is still helpful to include them in the conversation. Teens can likely handle more details than preschoolers or those in elementary school. Regardless of age, you’ll want to cover four essential topics:

  • What can they expect: Children want to know who will be caring for them and what they can expect life to look like while you’re gone. They may be staying with a grandparent, for example.
  • You’re getting treatment: Help children understand you may be sick, but you are getting treatment from a doctor so you can get better.
  • Your addiction or illness is not their fault: internalizing is common, especially among younger children. Addressing this head-on is vital.
  • How will you stay in touch: Let your children know if you will call or video chat to keep in touch. Some drug and alcohol rehab centers may even have family visiting hours when children can come to see you. It can be a relief for children to know they will still see or hear you while you’re away from home.

What Are Reverse Interventions?

Hopefully, your loved ones will be supportive of your decision to seek treatment, but in some cases, they may be in denial or upset about your choice to go to rehab. In a reverse intervention, instead of sharing with your family that you would like to get help, you may have to do the work of talking them through their denial and convincing them that going to rehab is the best choice for you.

When family members are in denial, it is often because they do not want to admit that someone in the family is an addict. They may feel that addiction is embarrassing or will bring shame to the family. Conducting a reverse intervention can help you to overcome some of this resistance from your family.

Preparing for a Reverse Intervention

To prepare for a reverse intervention, you may want to rehearse what you will tell your family so you can be calm and honest. Your relatives may be deeply upset by the thought of having an addiction in the family, so you should be prepared for some unpleasant reactions or strong emotions.

It can help start the conversation by letting your loved ones know that you have put some thought into this, that you have researched your options, ultimately deciding that treatment is the best option for you. Be prepared to dispel some of the common myths about addiction and rehab. For example, experts have accepted that addiction is a brain disease that gets better with treatment, not a character flaw. Educating your family about the nature of addiction may ease some of your loved ones’ concerns.

Explain to your loved ones that they are some of the most important people in your life, and having their support through this journey may help you recover. Framing the situation this way may break through some of their defenses and garner their support.

When Your Decision To Get Sober Is Not Supported

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your friends and loved ones may not support your decision to go to rehab. In some cases, religion or cultural factors may have them worried about the damage that rehab will cause to your or the family’s reputation. In this scenario, you may have to set a boundary with your loved ones. While they are welcome to be upset and work through their emotions on their own, the best choice for your health and wellbeing is to seek treatment. Hopefully, when they see you recovered, they will recognize that you made the right choice.

In other scenarios, loved ones may be hesitant to accept your choice to get help because they, too, are struggling with addiction. Your brave choice to seek rehab may make them insecure about their own struggles with drugs and alcohol. If they accept that you need help, they may also have to admit to themselves that they have a problem. In this case, you may offer to link them to help if and when they are ready, but maintain your own commitment to going to rehab.

If you are living with an addiction and are ready to make the courageous choice to seek treatment, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper is here to help. Our representatives can discuss your treatment options and help you prepare your discussion with loved ones. Contact us today to begin your recovery journey.


Leshner, Alan. “Exploring Myths About Drug Abuse.”  National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed January 14, 2021.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “If I want to ask for help, where do I start?” October 2019. Accessed January 14, 2021.

Pugliese, Nicholas. “How Camden County municipal courts ar[…]ddiction stories.” October 31, 2019. Accessed January 13, 2021.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding Drug Use and Addiction Drugfacts.” June 2018. Accessed January 13, 2021.

Get your life back

Recovery is possible. Begin your journey today

Call Us Now Admissions Check Insurance

What To Expect

When you call our team, you will speak to a Recovery Advocate who will answer any questions and perform a pre-assessment to determine your eligibility for treatment. If eligible, we will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. If The Recovery Village is not the right fit for you or your loved one, we will help refer you to a facility that is. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

All calls are 100% free and confidential.