Forcing someone into rehab for alcohol may seem like the ideal way to get them help. It is not always that easy, though. This process, known as involuntary rehab, may be an option in situations where you can prove that a person can’t make the right decisions for themselves.
However, there are many limitations to this. Ultimately, your state’s laws play a role in whether this is even an option.
One of the most common times when it may be possible to send someone to rehab against their will occurs when the individual is a minor. As such, a parent may be able to make their child attend rehab without their consent. This would allow a parent to find a treatment center, set up care, and require the child to attend it.
It is far more difficult to get a person into rehab against their will if they are an adult. At the age of 18, a person has the right to make their own decisions regarding their health and medical care. Unless you can prove that they are unable to make decisions for themselves, it is much more challenging to get a person into rehab like this.
However, 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow for involuntary commitment in cases related to substance use disorder. The laws within those states vary significantly, though. All require that a person meets their set requirements for having a diagnosable condition. Each state has various criteria that must be met before treatment for alcoholism can occur.
As noted, each state sets rules on how involuntary rehabilitation is allowable. However, several criteria are common across the board in most states with such laws.
The first is that the individual must pose a danger to other people, such as family members in the same household or to themselves. Have they threatened suicide or tried to hurt someone while intoxicated?
The second component is recognizing the condition as a disability. Substance use disorder is certainly a disease that can cause disability, but showing that a person is physically or mentally challenged as a result of their condition is harder to do. You may be able to do so by showing how they made decisions about themselves or about their healthcare.
Another common method for requiring rehabilitation in those who refuse it is to show that they are incapacitated. That means you need to prove that they cannot make good decisions for themselves any longer.
To do this, you may show that a person is engaging in reckless behavior, missing work, or putting their health on the line because of their continued poor behavior. Numerous hospital stays, for example, could help prove this.
In some situations, you can also show the court that your family member is neglecting themselves, their job, or their family as a result of their addiction. In this situation, you may have to show that they do not take medications, perhaps are not eating regularly, or are unable to pay their bills due to their actions.
If you believe any of these to be true, it may be possible to petition the court in the state where you live to require a person over the age of 18 to enter into rehab. The court may require the person to be diagnosed formally and have a mental health evaluation to determine if this type of care is warranted.
In Massachusetts, Section 35 of the General Laws allows for involuntary commitment for alcohol or substance abuse treatment. This legal measure is considered a last resort, used when voluntary treatment options have been exhausted or if the individual poses a serious risk to themselves or others.
The process begins when a qualified person, such as a family member, police officer, or doctor, files a petition in court. The court then examines the case, deciding whether to issue a summons or a warrant for the individual. A hearing follows to determine if the person meets the criteria for involuntary commitment, primarily focusing on the risk of harm associated with their substance use disorder.
If involuntarily committed, the individual is placed in a specialized treatment facility for up to 90 days, depending on their specific needs. This approach aims to provide urgent care and encourage the individual’s journey towards recovery. However, it’s important to recognize that recovery is a personal journey and can vary significantly from one individual to another.
There are many situations where involuntary rehabilitation is critical to saving a person’s life. As a disease, alcohol makes it nearly impossible for a person to make good decisions for themselves. They may find that the cravings from trying to stop make it impossible for them to do so, even if they want to.
It’s best to encourage a person to enter treatment on their own whenever possible. This can prove to be vitally important since a commitment to change is necessary for a person to recover from addiction. However, once put into treatment involuntarily, they may go through detox and start on the path to recovery. That mental clarity may give them the support and confidence they need to continue therapy.
There are many situations where forcing a family member into drug or alcohol rehab is beneficial and necessary. If you find yourself uncertain about how this applies to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to reach out to the Massachusetts Center for Addiction.
Our compassionate admissions counselors are here to provide you with valuable insights and guidance regarding your rights and responsibilities. Their expertise will help you support your family members through this situation and guide them on the path to recovery.
Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call today and begin your journey toward long-term recovery.