Can You Force Someone to Get Addiction Treatment?
The devastating effects of substance use disorder are well known to anyone with an addicted loved one. But due to the cognitive and personality distortions that can be caused or exacerbated by drug and alcohol abuse, some people who struggle with drug addiction may be too incapacitated by their condition to seek treatment at an appropriate drug rehab even if that treatment is clearly necessary to ensure their well-being.
Because this phenomenon has been widely attested to by many mental illness professionals, it is possible for family members to attempt to legally compel such a person to participate in a court ordered treatment program.
Having to force someone to go to rehab is far less than ideal and should only be used as a last resort after voluntary treatment has been refused and lesser measures like family counseling have failed. But in extreme circumstances, forcing an addicted person into court ordered rehab involuntarily could be your best shot at saving their life.
In the case of adolescent substance abuse, you may be able to exert your parental rights to compel an addicted teenager to attend drug rehab even without a court order. But in the case of someone over 18, you will likely need to compel them to enroll in a drug rehab using involuntary commitment laws. Though the specific process for involuntary commitment varies from state to state, 46 states do have some type of involuntary commitment laws on the books.
These statutes allow for family members or others who are familiar with the addicted individual to request that they be involuntarily committed to an inpatient treatment center or outpatient rehab. For example, in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, involuntary commitment statutes fall under Casey’s law, which is named after a 23 year old man whose family was unable to force him to go to rehab and who thus ultimately died of an overdose.
Tragic stories like these illustrate the need that many families have to force someone to go to rehab, as involuntary commitment could be the difference between death and a chance to find recovery for someone who is in danger do to their severe substance use disorder.
According to the the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction treatment doesn’t necessarily have to be voluntary to be effective, and the fact that such treatment can play a critical role in catalyzing a person’s recovery is attested to by the many success stories that Casey’s law and legacy went on to play a part in.
States vary when it comes to the criteria that must be met to force someone into rehab, so you will have to research the specific state laws that apply in your area. But under Florida law, sending an addicted person to involuntary rehab will likely fall under the purview of the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, also known simply as the Marchman Act. The rest of this article will focus on how to use this law to force someone into involuntary treatment.
Using The Marchman Act To Force Someone Into Substance Abuse Treatment
To obtain a court order to force a family member to go to rehab, you will first have to file a Marchman Act petition. If they are seeking professional help, a family unit can choose to seek legal counsel to guide them through this sometimes fraught process, though a skilled intervention counselor may be a more affordable and equally effective option.
Any close family members of the person in question and a mental health practitioners have the option of filing a Marchman Act petition on their own, but three unrelated individuals who are concerned about someone can also file such a petition on their behalf.
After this, your case may progress to a hearing, where you will have to prove that the person is currently a danger to themselves or others because of their drug and alcohol addiction. To do this, you may put forth evidence that the person is incapable of meeting their basic needs due to their substance abuse, or that they have previously inflicted harm on others due to their addiction.
If your petition is successful, you will be responsible for paying for the person’s addiction treatment and finding them an available bed in a treatment facility, though professional help could also aid you in finding your loved one appropriate treatment options.
Alcohol addiction can result in severe withdrawal symptoms that may necessitate medical detox, so a short stay at a specialized alcohol rehab may be necessary at the beginning of an alcoholic’s recovery process, but, aside from that, a court ordered treatment program can involve outpatient substance abuse services rather than a 24/7 stay in a treatment facility.
Individuals who are at high risk of relapse may also require substance abuse treatment in a residential rehab center. However, especially if you plan on being able to serve as a strong support system for your addicted loved one, outpatient treatment may just as effective. It also comes with the benefit of being more affordable and of encouraging the person learn how to live without drugs or alcohol in the real world rather than the artificially controlled environment offered my most treatment facilities.
A reputable addiction treatment center will be able to teach your loved one how to cope with life’s stressors without resorting to using drugs to cope. It will also be able to address any underlying mental health problems that may have played a part in your loved one’s addiction, and ensure that these mental health issues are given adequate treatment as well. Though it can be hard to see from within the terrifying darkness of acute addiction, with the right treatment, your addiction loved one will have every chance at achieving a full and lasting recovery.
Contact Us For Professional Help With A Loved One’s Drug Abuse
If you are currently in the process of convincing a loved one to seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, we encourage you to contact our helpline. We will be able to connect you to a professional interventionist, who can aid you in attempting to get the person to agree to commit to drug rehab.
If these efforts are unsuccessful, they will also be able to help you through the process of filing a Marchman Act petition. To learn more, feel free to call us at 833-497-3808, or to contact us online anytime here.