Can You Be Forced to Go to Rehab?

Can You Be Forced to Go to Rehab?

Can You Be Forced to Go to Rehab?

Addiction is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. It is a disease that affects the body and the mind and causes people to do things they thought they never would do. Some people neglect their family members and friends, drop out of school, lose their hard-earned careers, abandon their hobbies, and let their physical and mental health decline. Others violate ethical and moral codes by lying, cheating, and stealing to get and use the substance that their body has come to rely on. Addiction can destroy lives, and the end result of addiction for some people who struggle with it can even be deadly.

Watching a loved one struggle with and succumb to a drug or alcohol addiction is painful. You know that the consequences of addiction are dire and you want to do everything possible to help your loved one overcome the disease of addiction. You know that your loved one needs professional treatment in a drug and alcohol treatment program, and you wonder how to get them the help that they so desperately need to recover from addiction and reclaim their life.

Many people who have a loved one who struggles with an addiction have staged an intervention for their friend or family member to make them realize the extent of their substance abuse problem and the need to go to a rehab program. Although an intervention can be an effective tool to convince someone to go to rehab, it might not work for some individuals. This might leave you feeling discouraged and wondering if you can do anything else to help them. You might be wondering if you can force someone to go to rehab and if it is even a good idea to compel someone to attend treatment for addiction.

Before you call a treatment center for a loved one, the drug and alcohol treatment professionals at HARP have some information to share about whether it is legal to force someone to go to rehab and whether forcing a person to go to rehab actually helps them recover from their addiction. You can also find information about other options to encourage your loved one to get treatment in a drug and alcohol treatment center.

What Does the Law Say?

People often say that you can’t help a person until they realize and accept that they have a problem. However, the American Psychiatric Association conducted a study about how many people voluntarily seek treatment for addiction. The study found that less than 10% of patients with a substance abuse disorder seek treatment.

Furthermore, most of the people who do seek treatment only do so due to external, coercive influences. In other words, most people who seek treatment for addiction do it because someone influenced them to do so. However, the study did not specify whether the person was forced to go to rehab or was simply encouraged to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program to overcome their addiction.

While most people start out by encouraging their loved ones to recognize their addiction as a problem and attend a rehab program, this is not always effective. When conversations and interventions fail to encourage your loved one to go to rehab, you might be ready to consider forcing your loved one into rehab.

The law generally prevents a person from being physically restrained and transported somewhere against their will. As with every rule, there are exceptions in certain situations. For example, some states allow family members to force adult loved ones into rehab in certain circumstances. However, it’s more involved than calling a rehab center and dropping your loved one off at the front door of the facility.

The Marchman Act in Florida is one of the most progressive laws in the United States regarding drug and alcohol treatment. The law applies to a spouse, family member, or three people who have direct contact with the person and understand their addiction.

According to the law, these individuals can petition the court for a mandatory assessment of their loved one’s condition. If the petitioners can prove that the person has lost control and is likely a danger to himself or others, the court can require the individual to attend up to 60 days of mandatory rehabilitation. Many other states are pushing to pass similar laws.

Other situations where an adult can be forced to go to a rehab center involve criminal fault or civil liability that compels them to attend therapy and/or a drug and alcohol treatment program.

If your minor child is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is easier for parents and guardians to intervene and compel them to go to a drug and alcohol treatment program. The law views individuals under the age of 18 as incapable of making legally binding decisions. As such, a parent or guardian must make such decisions on their behalf, including admitting them to drug and alcohol rehab.

What Other Options Do I Have?

If your state’s laws are not as progressive about involuntary drug and alcohol treatment, you might be wondering if there is anything else you can do to help your loved one. Luckily, you still have several options to help your family member or friend realize that they have an addiction that requires professional treatment.

Before you do anything, you need to educate yourself about addiction. You can attend a local addiction support group for loved ones of people struggling with addiction. If you thought that support groups were only for people working to overcome addiction, you thought wrong. Family members and friends also need support and resources because addiction takes a toll on everyone. At these groups, you can learn about local addiction resources, benefit from the members’ firsthand knowledge of addiction, and feel supported in your fight to get your loved one help.

After you’re armed with knowledge, you should plan an intervention. An intervention is a meeting that invites concerned family members and friends to come together to address the loved one who is struggling with addiction. During this time, the attendees discuss how the addiction has affected their lives to give the person a clear view of how their alcohol or drug use affects the people around them. This tool isn’t designed to force a person to go to rehab, but it is designed to encourage them to go.

For a successful intervention, you should keep in mind the following tips:

  • Make a plan for success. Avoid the temptation to have an impromptu intervention. All of the necessary elements need to be in place to make the intervention a success. Be sure to invite all of the concerned family members and friends, have transportation ready to take your loved one directly to a drug and alcohol treatment center, and outline the consequences of your loved one refusing to get help for their addiction.
  • Consider hiring a professional interventionist. During an intervention, you will be trying to reason with someone who may no longer be reasonable due to the effects of drugs and alcohol. A trained interventionist will have the experience and skills to successfully plan and manage the intervention. This mental health professional is also unbiased, serving as a mediator in a sometimes tense situation.
  • Use “I” statements. You don’t want to make your loved one feel like you’re judging or blaming them. To avoid making them feel like they’re being attacked, use “I” statements that focus on exactly what you’re concerned about with regard to your loved one’s substance abuse. For example, you could say: “I worry every day that you’re going to die of a drug overdose.”
  • Explain the consequences. While you shouldn’t make empty threats, you do need to let your loved one know the consequences if they decide not to enter a treatment program. For example, you can tell your loved one that you won’t financially support them anymore unless they go to rehab. Just be sure that you are willing and able to follow through on the tough love so that your loved one knows you’re serious.
  • Be prepared to take them directly to treatment. If the intervention convinces them to go to a drug and alcohol treatment program, have transportation ready to take them there immediately. You don’t want them to change their mind and refuse to go the next day. Also, be prepared to support them on the path to recovery. Follow the treatment program’s rules and support your loved one during and after rehab.

Is Forced Rehab Effective?

Assuming that you can legally force a loved one to go to rehab, you might be wondering if it will even be effective. You might assume that treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol will only work if the person has admitted that they have a problem and willingly checked themselves into a rehab center. However, studies have found very little difference in success rates between voluntary and involuntary treatment for addiction. You might find that the process of court-ordered rehabilitation even convinces your loved one that they have a problem with drugs and alcohol that needs treatment from a professional.

It is important to note that some individuals may not respond to involuntary addiction treatment. This is especially true if the person does not attend a high-quality rehab program or if they do not stay in the program for long enough. Drug and alcohol treatment programs are designed to first help people cleanse their bodies and minds of the substances they have become addicted to before moving onto the intense therapeutic work of identifying and overcoming the destructive thoughts, behaviors, and triggers that caused and maintained the addiction in the person’s life.

Just as an addiction does not appear overnight, getting clean and sober does not happen immediately. If a person is involuntarily committed to a rehab center and they stay for less than a month, the odds of them recovering from the addiction are minimal.

We realize that there is nothing worse than watching a loved one struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and feeling powerless to help them. However, you don’t have to slowly watch your loved one fall apart. Depending on your state’s laws, you have the option to seek involuntary drug and alcohol treatment for your loved one. You can also plan and stage an intervention to convince your loved one to voluntarily seek treatment for their addiction.

The difference in success rates between voluntary and involuntary drug and alcohol treatment is minimal. What truly matters is the quality and length of the treatment program that your loved one attends and the aftercare and support they receive when they return home.

You can research rehab programs to find the best fit for your loved one, be the catalyst for your loved one attending the program by staging an intervention or seeking involuntary treatment and providing support throughout their treatment and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. When you know all of this information, you realize how much you can actually do to help your loved one. It’s empowering and encouraging.

If you have questions about HARP and our proven approach to treating addiction, you can contact our knowledgeable and compassionate addiction treatment professionals to get the answers you need to help select the right treatment program for your loved one. If someone you love needs help, the experts at HARP are here to offer treatment and support.

HARP specializes in the treatment of addiction. Our experienced team of medical professionals and addiction treatment specialists provides detox, support, counseling, alternative therapies, and relapse prevention resources to ensure that your loved one has a comfortable and productive stay at our drug rehab center before they come home – clean and sober. With help and support, recovery from addiction is possible. HARP can help your loved one live an addiction-free life.

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