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Involuntary Rehab & Treatment Options

Many people who need substance use treatment don’t receive the care they need. In 2021, 15.6% (43.7 million) of people in the U.S. aged 12 and older needed treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).1 However, only 1.5% (4.1 million) received treatment.1

There are several reasons people don’t seek addiction treatment. According to the 2021 NSDUH, of people with SUD who didn’t receive treatment, 96.8% (39.5 million) felt that they didn’t need it.1 Meanwhile, 2.1% (837,000) felt they did need treatment for SUD but chose not to seek care.1

According to the NSDUH, other common reasons for not receiving treatment include:1

  • Not being ready to stop substance use.
  • Not having health insurance.
  • Not being able to pay for treatment.
  • Not being able to find an appropriate program.
  • Fear that treatment may negatively affect their job.

If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, you may be wondering if you can “force” them to go to rehab. In some states, there may be ways to get your loved one into care through involuntary commitment laws. This page will cover involuntary commitment and mandatory rehab.

Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab?

Some states have enacted involuntary commitment laws for substance use. Through these laws, your loved one may be ordered into treatment for substance use.2 Not all states have involuntary commitment laws for substance use, and the states that do may have different guidelines for:2

  • Who can petition for involuntary commitment.
  • Clinical assessments.
  • Judicial review.
  • Treatment length and type.

Despite different guidelines, many states with involuntary commitment laws include similar criteria regarding reasons for involuntary commitment. These include if your loved one:3

  • Is a danger to themself or others.
  • Has a serious disability.
  • Cannot make their own decisions.
  • Cannot take care of their basic needs and personal affairs.
  • Has lost control of their use.

States With Involuntary Commitment Laws for Substance Use

Currently, 35 states and the District of Columbia have involuntary commitment laws. These states include:3

  • Alaska.
  • Arkansas.
  • California.
  • Colorado.
  • Connecticut.
  • Delaware.
  • Florida.
  • Georgia.
  • Hawaii.
  • Indiana.
  • Iowa.
  • Kansas.
  • Kentucky.
  • Louisiana.
  • Maine.
  • Massachusetts.
  • Michigan.
  • Minnesota.
  • Mississippi.
  • Missouri.
  • Nebraska.
  • North Carolina.
  • North Dakota.
  • Ohio.
  • Oklahoma.
  • South Carolina.
  • South Dakota.
  • Tennessee.
  • Texas.
  • Vermont.
  • Virginia.
  • Washington.
  • West Virginia.
  • Wisconsin.

Keep in mind that laws are always being updated. It is important to research the laws in your state and county. If you live in a state with involuntary commitment laws and you are concerned about a loved one’s substance use, familiarize yourself with the requirements and processes in your area.

Laws can vary significantly from state to state. For example:

  • In Florida, the Marchman Act is an involuntary commitment law that allows a blood relative, spouse, or 3 unrelated people to file a petition to have a person assessed for substance use treatment.4 Once the assessment is complete, the same people can file to commit the person to treatment.4
  • In Kentucky, the involuntary commitment law is called Casey’s Law.5 A parent, relative, or friend can file a petition in court to have a loved one sent to treatment. Under Casey’s Law, if probable cause is established, they will be evaluated by 2 qualified professionals to determine the need for treatment.5
  • In Colorado, there is an involuntary commitment law through the Behavioral Health Administration.6 To petition for your loved one to be involuntarily committed to treatment, you have to have first-hand knowledge regarding your loved one’s addiction, not have any outstanding legal issues and have not participated in substance use with your loved one.6

The Process of Involuntary Commitment to Rehab

Each state has different criteria for who can petition for a loved one to be involuntarily committed to rehab. Additionally, states vary on the evaluation process and the petition process.3 As seen in the 3 laws mentioned above, petitions for involuntary commitment typically go through the civil court system. To learn more about the involuntary commitment processes in your state, research your state and local government websites.

Is Involuntary Rehab Effective?

Many addiction professionals believe that involuntary commitment can be beneficial for people with substance use disorder (SUD).3 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.7 Studies show that sanctions such as involuntary commitment can significantly increase treatment entry and retention rates as well as the overall success of treatment interventions.7

While treatment can help a person learn how to identify and modify their behaviors and thoughts related to substance use, treatment can vary widely. Per the NIDA, effective treatment is individualized and takes into consideration not only a patient’s substance use, but any related medical, psychological, social, and vocational problems they may have.7

It is natural for a loved one to feel anxious about treatment, especially if they do not know what to expect. Although recovery looks different for everyone, treatment often includes a combination of:8

How Else Can I Get Someone Into Treatment for Substance Use?

Seeing a loved one struggle with addiction is difficult, and you may not know what to do. Starting the conversation about treatment is often the first step in helping someone with an addiction. These tips can help you prepare for talking to a loved one:9, 10

  • Research addiction. This can help you better understand what your loved one is experiencing.
  • Make a plan to talk. Schedule a time to talk when you are both calm and in a private place.
  • Express your concern in a non-judgmental way. Avoid using stigmatizing language like “addict” or “junkie.”
  • Offer to help them get into treatment. This can include researching treatment options using our rehab directory. You can also offer to attend a doctor’s appointment with them to ask for a referral.

If you or someone you care about may be struggling with addiction, American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help. AAC is a leading provider of evidence-based addiction treatment throughout the U.S. You can contact AAC 24 hours a day for information, resources, and support. They can also help you figure out about the many ways to cover the costs of treatment and how the admissions and treatment process works.

If you are unsure about where to start, you can look at some of the facilities listed below to see if they provide the program you are looking for:

To find out if your insurance covers treatment for you or your loved one at an American Addiction Centers facility, click here, or fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential. You can also click here to find a rehab near me.

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