How to Help a Loved One Overcome the Fear of Rehab

helping a loved one overcome fear of rehab

The idea of doing something new can make many people feel apprehensive. Going to rehab is no exception. People may have ideas and fears about rehab that prevent them from getting the help they need. This can keep people stuck in a loop of addiction for years–in fact, people wait about 11 years before seeking treatment, on average.[1]

Watching someone you love struggle with substance abuse or addiction can make you feel anxious, frustrated, guilty, or have other complex emotions. Understanding available treatment options and what happens during rehab can help you support a loved one on their journey.

If your loved one needs treatment but has a fear of rehab, you may be able to provide them with information that helps them feel confident about going to rehab. The Moving Mountains team is dedicated to making your loved one feel safe and comfortable throughout their time in treatment. Contact us with questions or to learn about the programs we offer.

What Causes a Fear of Rehab?

Anxiety can come from people’s experiences, complex hidden emotions, or not knowing what to expect in a new situation. Some people may feel anxious at the idea of life after rehab. Understanding your loved one’s fear can help you answer their questions and support them in their recovery journey.

Some common reasons why some people have a fear of rehab include the following.

Not knowing what to expect

Movies, books and TV often portray rehab as a dark, hopeless place. This can set people’s expectations for what rehab will be like–and scare some from getting the treatment they need. Your loved one may also resist change or feel anxious about something unfamiliar. People beginning an inpatient or residential program may have even more anxiety because they will be required to live in the facility during treatment.

Meeting new people, relocating, trusting the staff, and following a new schedule may contribute to your loved one’s fear of rehab.

They fear sobriety

People living with addiction may worry about what a sober lifestyle will be like. Familiarity can sometimes be difficult to leave behind, even when it leads to consequences you don’t like. Beliefs, behaviors, and relationships become part of your life, and giving them up for an unknown future may seem scary.

They fear judgment

People often hide their addiction from friends, family members, and employers for as long as possible out of fear of being judged or rejected. Admitting you have lost control over your substance abuse and need help can feel very vulnerable. Many worry about losing their job, custody of their children, or meaningful relationships. Their fear of rehab stems from the stigma surrounding substance abuse and addiction.

Understanding your loved one’s fears can guide you as you help them get the treatment they need.

How to Help Your Loved One Overcome the Fear of Rehab

It’s normal to worry about a significant life change. Going to rehab can be life-changing, and for some, it will be life-saving. You must find ways to support your loved one so they can overcome their fear of rehab and get the help they need.

Here are some steps to help your loved one overcome their fear of rehab.

Remind them of their “big reason”

Most people have at least one “big reason” they want to put addiction in the past. A person’s big reasons may help them stay motivated and committed, even when they are anxious, or rehab is challenging. These might include:

  • To be a better parent
  • To live a longer, healthier life
  • To advance in school or their career
  • To regain control of their decisions
  • To accomplish something meaningful to them

Discover your loved one’s reasons for going to rehab and remind them of it frequently.

Help them understand their rights

Knowing their employment is protected while they seek treatment can help people feel less anxious about going to rehab. Two federal laws protect people’s employment while they are in rehab.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects a person’s job for up to 12 weeks while in rehab if they meet specific criteria, including the company’s size and length of employment.[2]

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA protects people who need to take a leave of absence to participate in treatment for mental illness or addiction and prevents employers from firing or discriminating against employees with addiction.[3]

Learn about what rehab will be like

Help your loved one gather as much information about their treatment program as possible before starting treatment. Learn the facility’s rules about personal items and visitors. Take a tour of the facility and ask the staff questions. Find out what a typical day in treatment might be like. If your loved one knows what to expect, they may be able to move past their fear of rehab.

Get Help Now

Contact the Moving Mountains Recovery specialists today to learn more about starting one of our holistic substance abuse treatment programs.


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