Getting an Addict to Rehab

Part of an interventionist's job is to safely deliver your addicted family member to treatment without any major incidents. Traveling with a person in active addiction can typically yield unexpected challenges along the way. The addicted person may need to drink during transportation to keep from shaking or may demand to stop so they can use one last time. If you're not prepared to handle these potential challenges, it's a good idea to leave this step to a professional interventionist or experienced sober escort.

If you hired an interventionist and didn't contract for transportation, adding this service will be an additional charge, but it’s worth the extra money knowing your son is in good hands. Sometimes, interventionists are hired to provide services other than interventions, like recovery coaching, and during recovery coaching sessions, it becomes necessary to send him back to treatment because he's using or engaging in unsafe behaviors. Paying for the interventionist to transport him is a good idea [Office3] [m4] and worth the additional cost.
I have worked with families who believe their addicted son or daughter is committed to getting sober and can safely travel alone. This is sometimes true, but taking this chance to save money is a risky proposition.
It's not hard to imagine an addict getting off the plane in Ft. Lauderdale or Long Beach and suddenly being overcome with buyers' remorse [Office5] [m6] about their decision to go to rehab. Even though a representative from the rehab facility is meeting your son at the baggage claim, a lot can go wrong between the pilot switching off the seatbelt sign and him reaching the carousel.

If you haven't worked with addicts and alcoholics or haven’t been an addict yourself, you might ask what could go wrong during this small window of unsupervised time.
Imagine this: your son gets off the plane after waiting anxiously for 20 minutes for the passengers ahead of him to gather their bags and get out of his way. Sitting there, your son's anxiety starts building to the point where he says to himself, "what the hell am I doing? I have to get out of here. I need to get high." He gets off the plane and quickly surveys the terminal and realizes he's anonymous in a strange city.

Back home, you experience a moment of relief knowing his plane landed safely and he's going to get his stuff at the baggage claim, where he'll meet the rehab driver as planned.
Thirty minutes later, you receive a telephone call from the treatment center saying the driver can't find your son—that they've tried calling his mobile number a few times and it goes right to voicemail, and he hasn't returned their texts either. The moment of peace you just experienced is gone.

When the addict described here decides he's going to use, there's no chance of him going to baggage claim. The mindset of an addict is obsessive and compulsive. Once he's committed to a drink or a drug, nothing else matters; all good reasoning goes out the window.

Several hours or even days later, the truth is revealed. After getting off the plane, your son quickly exited the airport and took an Uber to a trap house in the warehouse district to buy heroin, which he easily found using his iPhone.
I'm not saying the above scenario is what will happen if your son or daughter travels alone; I am saying something like this could happen, and it's not worth the risk.

Charging a friend or family member with escorting him to rehab can also be a dangerous misstep. When his fear of entering treatment peaks, the untrained individual will not know how to handle the situation. The untrained escort will not know what to do if your son runs off or demands a drink or drug.

Sometimes, escorting an addict yourself is okay, but it depends on your relationship. If you have a good report with him and open communication, you'll most likely be fine. If your son or daughter is young, such as under 15, then having mom and/or dad travel with them is a good idea. I would be reluctant to have my sixteen-year-old daughter travel alone with a male interventionist I don’t know well. [Office7] In this case, it may be beneficial to have a female interventionist or ask your male interventionist to use an experienced female to handle transportation.

The process of getting someone into treatment is expensive, and like many parents, you have had a lot of heartaches already. The goal is to deliver your child to rehab without them going missing, having an overdose, or getting arrested, so the additional cost to have the interventionist maintain continuity throughout the process and deliver him without incident is worth it.

South Florida Intervention offers solutions for families struggling with the devastating effects of drug addiction and alcoholism. Marc Kantor is an interventionist and recovery coach based in Boca Raton, Florida. If someone you know is struggling with addiction, we can help. For additional information, please visit or e-mail us at