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Ask Horizon: Can I force someone to go to rehab?

It’s extremely painful to watch a family member or other loved one struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. And it’s understandable that most people want to help that spouse, relative or friend quit the dangerous behaviors that are wreaking havoc on their lives. While conventional wisdom says that you can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves, is that really true? Can you force someone to go into rehab for help kicking their addiction?

From A Legal Perspective

In some states, family members can legally force addicts into rehab, and many more states are trying to enact such laws.  Florida’s Marchman Act, for example, requires that either a spouse or a relative, or three people who have direct contact with the addict and understanding of his condition, can petition for the addict to be taken to rehab. They must be able to prove that the addict has lost control and that he is likely to harm himself or someone else. Kentucky and Ohio both have similar laws. New York State allows both inpatient and outpatient involuntary drug treatment, and the treatment standard is based on a person’s need for treatment rather the addict’s likelihood of being dangerous to themselves or others.

Up to 38 states have some type of law that allows an addict to be committed to rehab, but the laws and what they allow vary tremendously. Be sure to research the state where you live in order to understand the steps available to you and your family.

From Another Perspective – Will It Work?

Experts have varying opinions as to whether “forced rehab” is effective. The administrators of many programs state that to fully recover from drug or alcohol abuse, the user must admit they have a problem. If an addict is involuntarily committed to rehab, he/she may be in denial or even combative, and therefore not receptive to the process.

On the other hand, just receiving detox treatment and going through withdrawal might alert him/her to the reality of their problem. Also, consider the idea that some help, whether it is requested by the addict or not, is better than no help at all. Finally, studies have found that the difference in success rates between voluntary and involuntary treatment is negligible.

If you have more questions or would like to discuss the consequences of involuntary, or forced, rehab, please call or contact the team at Horizon Health Services at 716-831-1800 any time. We’re here to help.

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