Can I Force a Loved One Into Treatment?

While laws prevent someone from being physically restrained against their will and transported to rehab, this does not mean that families and friends are powerless to help an addict get into treatment. The way this is typically accomplished is through a process called intervention. In an intervention, the family and friends of someone in crisis, usually an addict or alcoholic, work with a professional interventionist to confront the individual with the reality of their circumstances and the consequences of their behavior.

The goal of the intervention is to lead the individual to recognize the severity of their situation, let them know that there is help, and convince them to accept that help. If the is intervention is successful, the individual acknowledges their problem, accepts help and is usually taken right at that moment to a treatment facility where they can begin the process of recovery. While there is no guarantee that an intervention will be successful, it is often the turning point in an addict's life and can prevent them from losing even more than they already have. Many recovered addicts will state that an intervention is what saved their life. Because the relationship between a person in crisis and their loved ones is often very complex it is very important that an intervention not be tried alone and only be undertaken with the guidance of a professional interventionist. To find out more about interventions and whether an intervention would be appropriate for your loved one, please call us now at the number above to speak with an intervention and addiction specialist. They can answer any questions you have and help you help your loved one begin the process of recovery.

When someone you love is struggling, you want to do anything in your power to help that person. There is little worse than the feeling of powerlessness that comes with watching someone you love slowly fall apart when there are so many available options to help. In many cases, you know that he or she will never agree to be helped or may not even admit there is a problem in the first place. Where do you go from here? Clearly you can’t force someone to take personal responsibility, but are there other options?

Can I legally compel someone I love to seek out treatment for an addiction?

As much as a desperate situation may appear to require direct intervention, the law must balance the Constitutional rights of the individual who is dealing with the addiction against anyone else’s right to intervene, whether it be a loved one, a potential victim, or the State. In general this means that the law defaults to a hands-off approach to your loved one, even if that means allowing him or her to sink deeper into a dangerous addiction.

Are there any exceptions to the general rule?

The short answer is that the laws differ from state to state. However, almost without exception, parents and legal guardians are allowed to intervene and seek out treatment options on behalf of minors. Under the law, a minor is considered incapable of making many kinds of legally binding decisions, and a parent or guardian is often required to make them on their behalf. The only other scenarios where an individual may be compelled into therapy generally involve some criminal fault or civil liability and the addict is dangerous or threatening illegal activity.

Often state laws have carved out systematic processes for obtaining involuntary psychiatric evaluation. For example, in California, patients who pose an immediate danger to themselves or to others may be subject to a “5150,” which is the legal code for an involuntary hospital admission for up to 72 hours. Although families may request that someone be evaluated, only police officers, psychiatrists, certain social workers, administrative law judges, and other certified personnel can place an individual on an involuntary hold, and only psychiatrists can discontinue it. After 72 hours, voluntary admission is offered but, if refused yet deemed necessary by the physician, another involuntary hold for up to 14 days may be applied and may be followed with an additional 30 days. Again, there is little the government can do to force an individual into treatment unless they are dangerous, engaged in certain illegal behavior, or determined to be “gravely disabled” by certified personnel. A formal trial may be necessary in order to preserve his or her Constitutional rights. Because of this, a 5150 is very difficult to obtain and requires a showing of probable cause, which includes danger to self, danger to others, and some indication of a mental disorder or grave disability.

Regardless of the legal ramifications, will forced rehab even work?

At one point or another, an individual struggling with an addiction must choose for themselves to commit to a life of sobriety. The complete psychological transformation required to break an addiction cannot be forced. Some addicts do respond positively to being forced into treatment or persuaded through an intervention whereas others continue their behaviors after they leave.

Is there anything else I can do?

If someone you love is struggling with an addiction, most often the hardest part is taking the first step. Admitting there is a problem can be difficult. We encourage you to call eDrugRehab; our specialists can help determine the next best step for the specific situation. We have helped many people arrange interventions and choose rehab facilities. Visit the contact us page to learn more.

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