Can I Send My Loved One to Rehab Involuntarily?

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People experiencing addiction can have a hard time committing themselves to a change or even realizing they have a problem. If you have a loved one experiencing addiction, you’ve probably tried over and over to convince them to seek help or even to quit cold turkey. There are likely many techniques you have tried to help them get sober.

You may be wondering if it is possible to force your loved one into rehab. Depending on your circumstances, this may or may not be possible. Here are some things to consider before sending your loved one to rehab. 

How Laws for Involuntary Addiction Treatment Vary by State

In the majority of states, people can only be sent to rehab involuntarily if they have committed a crime. The judge is usually the one to sentence them to rehabilitation. 

Other states may allow involuntary commitment if the person is a danger to themselves or others. In general, however, people who are sent to treatment are typically ordered because of depression or other mental health conditions other than addiction.

In a few states, you may be able to get a court order to send your loved one to an addiction treatment center. California treats addiction the same way it treats mental illness. This means that the state allows involuntary commitment to inpatient rehabilitation for alcoholism or substance abuse disorder if they are considered a danger to themselves or others or if they cannot take care of basic needs like food, shelter or clothing. 

In California, people may also be ordered to outpatient treatment if they:

  • have a condition likely to substantially deteriorate;
  • are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision;
  • have a history of noncompliance that includes two hospitalizations in the past 36 months; or
  • act/threaten/attempt of violence to self/others in 48 months immediately preceding petition filing;
  • be likely to need treatment to prevent meeting inpatient standard; and
  • be likely to benefit from assisted treatment

A judge determines if a person meets these standards for involuntary treatment.

Getting Court-Ordered Rehab for A Loved One

In most cases, you must be a spouse, blood relative or legal guardian to apply for court-order rehab for a loved one. If you are a friend of someone with an addiction, you will need to get their family to help you apply for a court order. You may need three or more people to petition the court for involuntary commitment.

To start the process, you will fill out an order of commitment form and submit it to the court. This process may take weeks. They will then call you and your loved one to court. Your loved one will need to show up voluntarily or may be served an order of arrest to attend. It’s best to encourage your loved one to come to court on their own.

Your loved one may be examined by a court psychiatrist or an expert of their choosing to determine if they are experiencing addiction and if they are a danger to themselves or others as a result of the addiction. If they do receive an addiction diagnosis, the judge will determine if they should be committed to rehabilitation or not. 

It’s important to note that not everyone qualifies for court-ordered rehabilitation or you may not receive the outcome you desire. Whatever the case, it is vital that you continue to support your loved one as they battle addiction.

Staging an Intervention To Get A Loved One Into Rehab

If you cannot get a court order or don’t want to force your loved one into care, you may work on staging an intervention instead. You can work with a professional interventionist to have the most effective intervention possible and convince your loved one to seek help. An interventionist may be especially helpful if your loved one:

  • Has a history of violence
  • Has a history of suicidal talk or attempts
  • Experiences other mental illnesses

Your interventionist can help you choose who should attend the intervention, whether it is a few members of the family or friends and community members as well. They’ll help you understand what to expect during an intervention and how to properly react to the strong emotions that may result. 

It’s important to keep the intervention as loving and supportive as possible. You need to stay on task and not get caught up in rehashing old problems. Non-family members may be able to play the role of keeping the intervention going if family members are feeling too emotionally charged to stay focused.

When you do hold an intervention, be sure it is a location where your loved one feel safe. It should be at a time when they won’t be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which may make their behavior violent or unpredictable. 

At the end of your intervention, ask your loved one to commit to rehabilitation. You can immediately take action to enroll them in treatment so they can’t put it off or avoid it. You may even want to have a treatment center selected before your intervention begins. You should also be prepared to follow through on consequences if an intervention does not work, whether that is removing financial support or seeking court-ordered rehabilitation. 

At Harmony Place, we provide supportive, compassionate therapy for addiction and substance abuse disorder. We can help your loved one make positive, healthy changes in their life and offer long-term support for the whole family.

If your loved one is experiencing addiction, we can help. Contact us at 1-888-789-4330 at any time day or night for assistance.