Can I Force Someone into Treatment?

One of the common questions that comes up at The River Source is whether families can force their loved one into rehab. It’s a good question considering that many addicts don’t want to seek treatment when confronted by their families. To make matters worse, it’s difficult to reason with an addict. Addiction is a disease of the body and mind that makes people do things they wouldn’t normally do. It’s not that the addict is choosing to stay addicted; the addiction has taken over.

As the family, you know what’s best for your loved one, and you want to see them get clean and sober. So, can you find them a drug and alcohol treatment center and force them to go? It depends.

Forcing Someone into Rehab

In some states, family members can legally force an addict into rehab. Florida’s Marchman Act, for instance, requires that either a spouse, relative or three people who have direct contact with the addict can petition for the person to be taken to rehab. They must be able to prove that the addict has lost control of their life and is at risk for harming themselves or others. Ohio and Kentucky have similar laws. New York State allows for involuntary drug rehab, which is based on the addict’s need for treatment rather than the possibility that they could hurt themselves or others.

Many other states are working on laws similar to what you read above. It’s important to research the state that you live in since the laws vary greatly. If your state does not have a law that allows families to force an addict into treatment, it is against the law to do so. Involuntary treatment is still considered a violation of civil liberties, and the only way for the addict to receive treatment is if they seek it themselves.

Is Forced Rehab the Answer?

Let’s say you live in a state that allows forced rehab. Now you must ask yourself the question of whether or not it’s right for your loved one. Experts have varying opinions as to whether forced rehab is effective. On one hand, some programs believe that in order for the addict to get the help they need, they must recognize and admit that there is a problem. An addict that is forced into treatment may be in denial, argumentative and against the process altogether.

On the other hand, getting an addict into treatment may be the steps that are needed to make them see the extensiveness of their problem. Once they get the drug out of their system, the addict can recognize the addiction and how it’s hurting themselves and others. Additionally, some experts believe that some treatment is better than no treatment. Studies that have explored this topic have found no significant differences between voluntary and involuntary treatment.

Can You Handle It?

Here are a few more things to think about when deciding whether you should force a loved one into treatment, providing involuntary rehab is allowed in your state.

  • Is the addict willing to talk about their problem or admit to it? If not, forcing them into rehab may not be the first step. You may be better off sitting down with the person and helping them see the extent of their problem.
  • Have you tried any other options? Interventions can be an effective way to demonstrate the severity of the addiction and get the addict to admit their problem and agree to treatment.
  • Are you willing to be the bad guy? It’s possible that your loved one may resent you for forcing them into treatment. They may be defiant when they return home. You must be prepared to stand your ground and stick to your consequences.
  • Are you prepared to offer the addict full support? Treatment is just the beginning. The addict will need continued support when they get home: a sober environment, help with their aftercare plan, a ride to AA, etc. You must be ready to offer this when they return.

Each individual case should be carefully evaluated. In most instances, involuntary treatment should be considered as a last resort, after all other avenues have been explored. It’s best to sit down and try to have a reasonable discussion with the addict, stage an intervention or reach out for help from a professional counselor. Even an outpatient program can prove beneficial. But, if your loved one is constantly putting themselves or others in danger, involuntary treatment may be the only way to save a life.