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Forcing Someone to go to Rehab

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Getting into Rehab

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as 23.9 million people need addiction treatment and substance abuse services.

Can You Get Someone Committed to Rehab Against Their Will?, Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab?, What States Can You Force Someone into Rehab?, How Does Court-Ordered Addiction Treatment Work?, Can Rehab Still Be Effective If It Is Not Voluntary?, What is Emergency Hospitalization?, Convincing Someone to Go Into Rehab, What is Intervention for?, What to do if Your Child Refuses Rehab


When you have a loved one who is dealing with addiction, it’s hard to watch them struggle with their condition every single day. It can be both difficult and disheartening to see them go through all of addiction’s effects. In fact, it will even affect you and your whole family. Addiction impacts not only the person who is addicted but also those around them.

It’s no secret that addiction is an overwhelming illness. It affects every aspect of a person’s life: their physical health, their mental health, their career, their finances, their relationships, etc. It’s also no secret that rehab is the best option for those who want to get on the journey to recovery. Although addiction treatment is a difficult process, staying addicted is still far worse. Getting professional treatment may even spell the difference between life and death for some individuals.

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to go to rehab. There are many reasons why people may hesitate to receive treatment. They may be afraid of dealing with their problem, or they are unwilling to acknowledge that there is even a problem in the first place. Denial is a huge obstacle that’s keeping addicted individuals from receiving the help that they need. Some are worried about being judged by other people, worrying about their reputation.

Because of this unwillingness to seek treatment, families sometimes wonder whether or not they can force someone to go to rehab. Ultimately, it depends on a number of factors, which we will talk about today.


Can You Get Someone Committed to Rehab Against Their Will?

It’s hard to know what to do when you have a loved one who is dealing with addiction but won’t voluntarily go into rehab. They may reject your pleas even if you are already suffering from their condition. It may be hurting you and your family.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as 23.9 million people need addiction treatment and substance abuse services. However, only around 2.6 million actually receive the treatment they need.

The answer to the question of “can you get someone committed to rehab against their will?” actually depends on the person’s age and the laws in your particular state. Some regulators find it necessary to go for these desperate measures in an attempt to keep people safe from fatal overdose and other serious effects of addiction. This is why a majority of US states have involuntary commitment laws. It is another tool in the battle against addiction.

But one thing to keep in mind is that while it is possible to “force” someone to go into rehab, it is not a simple process. Simply being concerned for someone’s health is not enough.



Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab?

If you have a child who is under 18 years old, you may take them to rehab involuntarily. As a parent, you may have more rights to commit a minor child to substance abuse treatment—but only if it is allowed in your state. However, if your child is over 18 years old, it is more difficult to do so.

In order to force an adult into rehab, there are a few factors that need to be in place. First, you need to prove that the person is addicted to drugs or alcohol. There also needs to be evidence that the addicted individual has attempted, threatened, or inflicted harm upon others or themselves.

Another factor is the severity of addiction. It needs to be proven that the addiction is so severe that the person cannot provide basic needs for themselves, including food, shelter, and clothing—and that there is no other adult who is willing to do so.

If these requirements are met, you may be able to pursue a court-ordered rehab. Just keep in mind that different states may have different qualifications. Seek legal counsel before going these routes.


What States Can You Force Someone into Rehab?

Right now most states do allow a court-ordered rehab. There are 37 states that allow individuals to be forced into rehab if they meet the requirements. In some states, the person can even be detained for 48 hours to 15 days before a hearing takes place.

In a lot of states, a person who is committed involuntarily will go through a two-week rehab program. Afterwards, if they are proven capable of caring for themselves outside the facility, they will be moved to an outpatient program, which is much less strict. An outpatient program does not require them to stay in a treatment facility but it involves multiple visits to a treatment center. If they do not follow the rules of outpatient treatment, they may be reinstated in an inpatient program.

Here are the 37 states that currently allow for involuntary commitment to rehab: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Montana and Rhode Island are included in this list, but they limit involuntary commitment for alcoholism only. On the other hand, Vermont only allows involuntary commitment for substance use disorder.

It is worth noting that New Jersey has a proposed legislation that will allow these types of civil commitments, but it is yet to be approved.

For adults to be committed involuntarily, the process needs to go through court. It needs to be proven that the person has a substance use disorder and that they have inflicted harm on others or themselves. In some cases, it needs to be proven that the person has become addicted to the point where they are unable to take care of themselves. Even if those requirements are met, the case still needs to go through hearings.


How Does Court-Ordered Addiction Treatment Work?

Although it is not easy to take this approach, a court-ordered rehab is an option. It is important to seek legal counsel if you want to take this path. The case will be reviewed by a judge and a hearing will be issued, wherein you need to plead your case. Of course, your loved one will also have the opportunity to plead their case. From here, a decision will be made and your loved one may be committed into rehab.

This course of action is difficult because it can affect the relationship between you and the addicted individual. They may feel betrayed or angry because of your decision to pursue a court-ordered treatment. They may not immediately understand your position and how important it is for them to receive professional help from medical experts.

This opens up another common concern for those who want to commit someone else into rehab involuntarily: is it effective?


Can Rehab Still Be Effective If It Is Not Voluntary?

In some cases, even if the person is not willing to go into rehab at first, getting forced into rehab gives them proper perspective into their situation and they come around to accept the help. Sometimes another person’s intervention can get them on the right path. It may be difficult at first, but their receptiveness may improve over time.

It is a common misconception that the resentment and anger caused by involuntary commitment will hinder any progress towards sobriety. But rehab works just as well for those who were forced into the program by their family members as those who entered voluntarily.

Personal motivation is a huge factor when it comes to maintaining long term sobriety. But getting them in the door and on the path to recovery is just as important. In the process of getting better, their mental health may improve and they may be able to assess their situation with a clearer mind. They may gain personal motivation later on, seeing the progress they have already made.

Ordering someone to enter rehab may actually motivate them to complete it. A lot of people who were coerced into rehab actually decide to remain substance-free afterwards.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse: “most studies suggest that outcomes for those who are legally pressured to enter treatment are as good or better than outcomes for those who entered treatment without legal pressure.”


What is Emergency Hospitalization?

Emergency hospitalization is used on a person who experiences severe physical and/or mental health problems because of substance abuse. This may be an option if your loved one requires immediate medical care due to their addiction.

During emergency hospitalization, the person can immediately get the help that they need through hospitalization before they are moved into a rehab facility. But before they can be committed, it follows the same process as court-ordered rehab.


Convincing Someone to Go Into Rehab

Rehab and addiction treatment play an important role in a person’s safe recovery. The keyword here is “safe” because rehab facilities are designed to make the recovery process as safe and comfortable as possible. Dealing with addiction is tough, and the person will no doubt go through a difficult withdrawal period full of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. But in rehab, they can go through this process in a healthy environment with round the clock care from medical professionals. Their symptoms and cravings may be managed with medications while their drug and alcohol intake are gradually lowered.

Despite the benefits, it’s not always easy to convince someone to go into rehab. Professional intervention may go a long way. This often has positive results. Do keep in mind that it does not guarantee the person will willingly go into rehab if you do an intervention, but it may help them make the right decision.


What is Intervention for?

An intervention is important if the person does not even realize that there is a problem, or if they are rejecting treatment. There’s a proper way to do this, and you may want the input of a professional interventionist. This is a healthy discussion about how the addiction is affecting the family and why the person needs to go into rehab. Boundaries must be set and ultimatums may be put in place to help the addicted person realize the gravity of the situation.

Holding an intervention is a good option if the other options listed above sound like too much. Done properly, it may lead to a healthy and positive conversation about addiction and its impact.

It is possible to hold an intervention by yourself, but having an interventionist can help everyone process and express their feelings properly. An intervention is great because it may allow the person to realize that they need help, rather than having to be forced into it.

The ultimatum is an essential part of the intervention. It means that if treatment is refused, there will be consequences. As much as you may want to support your family member through their journey, it is not a good idea to enable their addictive behavior. The ultimatum may mean you will no longer support them financially or allow them to live with you. It is a difficult process, but it emphasizes the importance of addiction treatment.


What to do if Your Child Refuses Rehab

For parents with a child who refuses addiction treatment, you may have to force them into rehab if that is an option. A lot of addicted individuals will refuse treatment initially but accept it later on.

Forcing someone into rehab will not necessarily make treatment less effective. But since the long term effectiveness of rehab will ultimately depend on the person’s participation, they may have to develop the motivation to get sober on their own. This is something that can happen along the way.

Sometimes desperate situations call for desperate measures. By forcing someone into rehab, you may be setting them up for a successful and healthy future that is free from harmful substances. When in doubt, call an addiction treatment center and ask about your options so they can help you understand what to do.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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