Can I Get A Court Order To Put My Loved One In Rehab?
Medically reviewed byJennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC
When someone you love is suffering from addiction and won’t seek help, it’s easy to feel helpless. In this situation, you have undoubtedly been tempted to find a legal way to force them into rehabilitation. However, this may not be the best choice. Understanding the pros and cons of court-ordered rehab may help you decide the best course of action.
Court-Ordered Substance Abuse Treatment
People who have committed a drug-related crime can often be court-ordered into rehabilitation. This option is commonly sought by people who wish to avoid serving time in jail or prison and is only possible with non-violent crimes. And while it isn’t exactly ideal, it can still serve as a useful way to get your loved one into rehab.
Utilizing this technique requires getting them to plead guilty or to make a deal with the prosecuting attorney. Sometimes, it requires appearing in a drug court rather than a criminal court: the qualifications will vary depending on the jurisdiction.
Typical qualifications include:
- Drug addiction diagnosis
- Willingness to comply with treatments
- No history of violent or sexual crimes
- No other instance of drug-related crime on their record
If your loved one completes this mandatory treatment, some states will wipe their record clean.
For young people suffering from addiction, this option is a way to get their life back on track without laboring under a criminal record.
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Involuntary Rehabilitation Is Available In Some States
Although nationwide involuntary rehabilitation is not yet a reality, 37 states have passed laws that provide some form of involuntary commitment to substance abuse treatment. For example, Massachusetts has Section 35, a law that creates a pathway for family members to check their loved ones into rehabilitation without their permission.
The only relatives that can file a Section 35 court order treatment are spouses, blood relatives, or legal guardians, though police officers, physicians, and legal representatives can also file.
- Filing for Section 35 requires:
- Filling out an order of commitment form.
- Waiting for the court to review the case.
- Attending court if it is decided the person needs rehabilitation. They can come to court of their own free will or they will be apprehended with an arrest warrant.
- Examination by a court psychiatrist and by any experts the individual wants to utilize.
- Ruling on whether or not the person meets involuntary commitment guidelines.
For the person to qualify, they need to meet a medical diagnosis of addiction and must present the likelihood of harming themselves or others. That harm must be as a direct result of addiction and not other underlying problems, such as mental instability. Other states, such as Florida, have passed laws that follow similar guidelines.
Minors Can Be Forced Into Rehabilitation
If your child is suffering from addiction and they are 17 years old or under, you can force them into drug rehabilitation at any time. You don’t have to seek their approval or file a petition. If you want to force a loved one who won’t admit they have a problem into rehabilitation, it might be a good idea to do it before they cross that threshold.
Problems With Involuntary Rehabilitation
While involuntary rehabilitation has the advantage of getting your loved one the help they need, it’s not without its drawbacks. For example, if your loved one is still in denial about their addiction or is unwilling to commit to the program, it’s likely going to be a waste of everyone’s time. In some cases, people who know they have a problem may still react negatively to involuntary rehabilitation simply because they had no choice in the matter.
Reactions like this are often caused by fear related to a loss of autonomy. People rarely want to be treated as if they have no control over their life or have somebody take it over. Most people associate a loss of autonomy with weakness, inadequacy, and feelings of being trapped or helpless.
As a result, drug rehabilitation is generally more successful if the person attending has even a minor level of control. Try to offer options to anyone going through involuntary rehabilitation, such as allowing them to choose the treatment centers or treatment options they’ll experience.
Alternatives To Involuntary Rehab
Concern surrounding the effectiveness of court-ordered involuntary rehabilitation are understandable, which is why it’s important to understand your options. Since the advent of the popular television show, Intervention, an increasing number of people are turning to that option to shock their loved ones into treatment.
Statistics have shown that 90 percent of all interventions are successful if the person seeks help immediately. Often, confrontation with concerned loved ones and the full weight of the damaged they’ve caused jolts their perception back to reality.
While no treatment option or rehabilitation method can be considered 100 percent effective, intervention is often a better start than involuntary rehabilitation. The latter should only be used when all other options have failed and your loved one resists making the changes they need.
Learn More About Involuntary Rehabilitation
Clearly, there are benefits and disadvantages to court-ordered rehabilitation that you need to consider before making this crucial decision. If you need more information about its availability in your state or other legal recourse you can take, please contact us. Our rehabilitation experts can offer you free information that will guide you through this difficult period. Contact us at RehabCenter.net for help for yourself or an addicted loved one.