Is Forcing Someone to Go to Rehab Possible?

Watching a family member or friend suffer from the disease of addiction is tough. Especially when they do not show any interest in receiving help. As a result of this, you may find yourself wondering if you can force someone into rehab. Forcing someone to go to rehab is possible depending on the state and situation. 

When to Consider Forcing Someone to Go to Rehab 

Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and devastating illness. The effects of this condition range from lost careers, broken families, health issues, and much more. 

Oftentimes, going to a professional addiction treatment center is the difference between life and death for people struggling with substance abuse. Taking this into consideration, it’s easy to see why families and friends of addicted individuals desperately try to convince their loved ones to attend treatment.

Should You Force Someone to Go to Rehab? 

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to attend addiction treatment. It is common for those with a drug and alcohol addiction to be in total denial that they have a problem. This causes them to reject the idea of rehab. On the other hand, some people may not believe they are ready to give up substances. 

Either way, it is always devastating when your loved one refuses to get help for their addiction. Circumstances such as these often lead families to question whether they can force their loved one into treatment. Let’s take a look at the facts surrounding forced rehab. 

Forcing Someone to Go to Rehab Who is a Minor

While this issue is less discussed, many adolescents suffer from addiction and substance abuse issues. Even though it is more common for young and older adults to deal with a substance use disorder, children and teens suffer from this illness as well. When someone of adolescent age is dealing with addiction, it’s better to find them treatment sooner rather than later. When you address issues of substance abuse at an early age, you may prevent it from becoming worse over time.

Fortunately, if you are a parent of a child under the age of 18, you can force them to attend a drug and alcohol rehab center. However, your child’s success relies on their personal dedication to their treatment. With that being said, if they do not want to get sober, rehab may not be effective. While forcing a child to go to rehab is easy, it becomes much more difficult after they turn 18. 

Which States Can Force Someone to Go to Rehab?

If you are hoping to force someone to go to rehab who is an adult, it is possible. However, the process may be difficult. In other words, just being concerned about someone’s substance abuse is not enough to involuntarily commit them to addiction treatment. 

Most of the time, you will have to go to court to have a judge rule for involuntary commitment to rehab. However, this is only permitted in some states. 

The states that have involuntary commitment laws include:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Delaware
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Hawaii
  11. Indiana
  12. Iowa
  13. Kansas
  14. Kentucky
  15. Louisiana
  16. Maine
  17. Massachusetts
  18. Michigan
  19. Minnesota
  20. Mississippi
  21. Missouri
  22. Nebraska
  23. North Carolina
  24. North Dakota
  25. Ohio
  26. Oklahoma
  27. Pennsylvania
  28. South Carolina
  29. South Dakota
  30. Tennessee
  31. Texas
  32. Virginia
  33. Washington
  34. West Virginia
  35. Wisconsin

If you live in one of the previously mentioned states, it is possible to force someone into rehab. It is important to note that involuntary commitment laws may be different in each state.

How Does Forcing Someone to Go to Rehab Work?

If you are hoping to force your loved one into rehab against their will, it’s important to be aware of the process of obtaining involuntary rehab. If the individual that you are worried about is not a minor, it will be more difficult to get a court to grant such an order. In most states, with these laws, you will have to go to court and prove several things associated with the individual’s substance abuse. 

Proof of Addiction 

First, there must be some proof that the individual in question has a substance use disorder. Some states will allow involuntary commitment for drugs and alcohol, while other states limit involuntary commitment for one or the other.

They Are at Risk of Hurting Themselves or Others

In typical cases, you will also need to show either that the person has inflicted harm on themselves. Or, it should be proved that, if not committed to rehab, there is a substantial risk that the individual will harm themselves or someone else. 

Additionally, if the individual has become unable to perform usual hygiene maintenance or is completely incapacitated due to their substance abuse, it is more likely that a judge will grant involuntary rehab.

The Final Step 

When seeking involuntary rehab for a loved one, it is considered a true court hearing. Because of this, the person that you seek to have committed has the right to attorney representation. Of course, if the person cannot afford an attorney, the court, or some other participating agency will appoint one for them.

Motivating vs. Forcing Someone to Go to Rehab

Of course, the best way to get your loved one help is to convince them to willingly attend addiction treatment. When a person voluntarily attends rehab, it is more likely that they will take their recovery seriously versus when you force someone to go. 

However, this is not to say that involuntary treatment never works. Sometimes, individuals find the motivation they need to recover while in treatment. 

Either way, let’s take a look at the best ways to convince your loved one to attend treatment, so you can avoid having to force someone into rehab. 

Mentioning the Risk of Harm

Sometimes, it is helpful to explain to your loved one about the risks they are facing as a result of their addiction. This may include the risk of health issues, overdose, and even the risk of developing mental health conditions. Mental health conditions are especially common in those with a drug abuse problem. 

However, it is important to note that this may not work until the risks become imminent. It’s better to force someone to go to a substance abuse treatment facility than watch them spiral. 

What Happens to the Brain of an Alcoholic? 

It’s important to force someone to go to rehab if they are an alcoholic. Those with this type of chronic relapse disorder can suffer from permanent brain damage characterized by memory loss and overall cognitive dysfunction. 

Additionally, those suffering from alcoholism won’t be able to function without drinking. Their brains become used to the chemical imbalance from excessive, constant alcohol abuse. The brain tries to adapt by producing fewer chemicals that help regulate normal functions and mood. So, when an alcoholic stops drinking, they will suffer from a myriad of physical and mental symptoms. 

Threatening Deprivation

Instead of forcing someone into rehab, you might try threatening some form of deprivation first. While this sounds harsh, the threat of no-contact with family members and loved ones may be the motivation your loved one needs to attend treatment. This is often the most effective when done in an intervention setting. Telling them that you will not see them until they get help might allow them to realize they have a serious problem.

Forced Rehab vs. AA: What is the Success Rate of Recovery in AA? 

It might be a good idea to start with a support group as a baby step to rehab. The success rate of recovery in AA, or Alcoholics Anonymous, is 5-15%. That said, this statistic doesn’t include the number of people who relapse, return to AA, and then achieve long-term sobriety. 

Legal Consequences

If your loved one is in serious danger due to their addiction, it may be wise to utilize legal consequences, such as court-mandated rehab. While this could prevent them from suffering from an overdose, involuntary rehab is not always effective. Always keep in mind that individuals must be motivated to change and recover. Otherwise, treatment becomes ineffective. 

Having a True Desire to Recover

With patience and unconditional compassion, an individual can connect with the desire to recover from addiction. By being patient, supportive, and setting healthy boundaries, your loved one may eventually seek rehab on their own. The only downside to this is that it may be challenging to reach this perspective through the fog of substances and addiction.

Voluntary and Involuntary Addiction Treatment 

If you or a loved one are struggling with the effects of addiction, it may be time to attend rehab. Whether you are forcing someone into rehab or voluntarily committing yourself, Addiction Intervention can help. Contact us today for more information about addiction treatment.

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