Can you send a person to Drug Rehab Against Their Will?

Do you know how to get someone into rehab against their will?

If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, you know that you must quit. You are fully aware that nothing good will ever come from using more.

Yet, stopping is not easy. You don’t want to feel the horrible sickness of withdrawal. Furthermore, the compulsion to continue using is overwhelming.

Your loved ones do not understand how you feel. But, they do want to help and see you get better. In your current state, your focus is on getting high.

It may not make sense to people on the outside, but addiction has reprogrammed your brain. You are trapped helplessly inside, watching as your addicted brain proceeds to tear apart your life before your eyes.

How would you feel if your family forced you into rehab? Your thoughts on this may be conflicted. On the one hand, you may be secretly grateful that they are saving you from yourself.

Or, you may feel angry and betrayed. Interpreting your feelings may be difficult because the addiction gets involved in clouding your thoughts and feelings.

Is it possible for your family members to commit you to rehab involuntarily?

If you are an adult, over the age of 18, you may believe that your family cannot force you to go to rehab or mental health facility. You may be surprised to learn that they can force you into rehab. In some cases, forced drug rehab can last as long as six months. How is this possible?

In at least 37 states in the United States, involuntary commitment laws exist for families, with the help of a judge and a court order, to force their loved ones into drug treatment. In the remaining states, there may be similar laws specific to either drugs or alcohol. Can they get away with this? If you don’t want to go, can you fight forced rehab?

When your family confronts you with legal threats to send you to involuntary treatment for substance abuse, you may be terrified. Suddenly, they are forcibly taking away your freedom to do what you want. You may worry about what people will think. Could you lose your job or your children?

After your initial response to the news, you may think about getting a lawyer to defend yourself. If you do this, you may have a chance to prevent being forced into rehab. In many cases, the laws that allow for forced rehab are on shaky ground. A good lawyer can prevent your forced admission, or they can get you out afterward.

However, the lawyer you want to hire may see that you are intoxicated. Or, they may learn that you have legal issues already due to drug abuse. An ethical lawyer will likely refuse to handle your case to save you from forced rehab.

What alternatives are there to avoid getting committed to rehab against your will?

After some careful thought, you may conclude that your family is trying to help you. They love you and want the best for you.

Your family wants you to have a good future. Rehab for a month or a few months is temporary. They hope that you will come out of rehab changed and ready to start a new life without the need for drugs or alcohol.

One option that you have is to negotiate with your family and come to an agreement. You may agree to go to rehab, but you want to be a part of the decisions. You and your family can work together on researching treatment programs.

Are there options other than going to a rehab program?

If you are addicted to opioids, you have the option to seek medication-assisted treatment. While some rehabs offer this therapy, more commonly, it is provided in a private doctor’s office. Suboxone is one of the most popular medications for treating opioid addiction. Suboxone doctors are now treating patients remotely by telemedicine video visits.

What happens if you go to the Suboxone doctor, and then your family tries to commit you to an addiction treatment center against your will?

If your family goes to a judge and asks the judge to commit you, they must then prove that you have a drug problem. When you take Suboxone prescribed by a doctor, if treatment is successful, you will no longer have a drug problem during your medical therapy.

While I am not a lawyer, my opinion is that a judge will not force you to go to rehab when you are already receiving optimal medical therapy. Forced rehab would not make sense in that situation. Hence, you may be able to prevent being forced to go to rehab by starting treatment and stopping your drug use.

What if I am a heavy drinker, and my family wants to put me in treatment for alcohol use disorder?

There is also a medication-assisted treatment for alcohol abuse. Naltrexone can help you to quit drinking. In combination with psychotherapy, you can stop drinking without rehab. Keep in mind that you may need to go through detox.

While it is possible to do this at home, you may want to consider an inpatient medical facility. If you can resolve your drinking problem before your family can get an order signed by the judge, you may be able to avoid forced rehab.

Should I break off all future contact with my family if they force me to go rehab?

You are going to be angry with your family when they make you go to rehab. It will seem as if they are over-reacting. Why bring a lawyer and judge into personal family matters?

In the short term, you may decide to break off communications with your family. Yet, your feelings will change over time.

As you recover from active addiction, you will begin to see why your family took action. They feared for your life. What would you have done in their position? In time, you may even be grateful to your family for not being afraid to get you to a place where you could finally get help.

How do you get someone committed to rehab?

The specific laws will vary from one state to another. An excellent example of this type of state law is the Marchman Act in Florida.

The Marchman Act is a law that allows the family to force a family member into rehab. They go to a judge who signs the order. If a Florida judge orders you to residential rehab, it can be for up to three months. Then, they can extend it to six months.

The Baker Act is a law that allows forced treatment for mental illness for up to three days. Addicted loved ones are sometimes sent to mental health facilities by a family member, doctor, or law enforcement officer, using the Baker Act.

If my family uses the Marchman Act, will they have to hire a lawyer?

It is not necessary to hire a lawyer to enact the Marchman Act. However, a lawyer will ensure that the family handles things correctly.

There is one lawyer in Florida who specializes in the Marchman Act. This lawyer handles hard cases, such as when the family is in another state, but their loved one who is addicted is in Florida. His service makes it possible for someone anywhere in the United States to force an addicted relative in Florida into rehab.

If your family hires this lawyer to send you to rehab, he also works to make sure you don’t try to leave during your rehab stay. While this particular lawyer is the best for Marchman cases, other lawyers can handle straightforward cases.

What if I start going to meetings? Will that help keep me out of rehab? Can you force someone to go to rehab if they are in recovery?

You can go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. There are also a variety of other groups, 12-step and otherwise for addiction recovery support for people with substance use disorders.

SMART Recovery and LifeRing are non-12-step options. Celebrate Recovery is a Christian support group. However, keep in mind that meetings alone will not protect you from your family’s taking legal action to send you to rehab.

If you go to meetings to look as if you have good intentions, your family and the judge will see right through it. Sometimes people go to an addiction doctor to put on a show of doing the right thing. Your family wants you to quit drugs.

They want to save your life. Regardless of what you do to show your good intentions, you will have to quit alcohol or drugs. If you want to avoid forced rehab, you will have to stop and stay off alcohol and drugs.

I can’t stop using heroin. My situation is hopeless. What can I do?

First of all, you are probably not using heroin. Nearly all street heroin contains fentanyl or is only fentanyl. Second, your situation is certainly not hopeless.

It only seems that way. With medication-assisted treatment, in a short time, you can get back to feeling normal without using heroin. It is hard to imagine this being true, but it is.

Give medical treatment a chance. Heroin is not going anywhere. You can put it aside for a while and try out medical treatment.

Many people describe the experience of Suboxone treatment as feeling like they are not taking anything. And, they describe it as feeling as if they never had an addiction problem.

What if I am taking Suboxone and doing well, but my family still wants to force me into rehab?

The misunderstanding of Suboxone treatment is a serious issue. Sometimes family members believe that Suboxone is trading one drug for another.

What they must see is that when you take Suboxone, you stop acting in an addictive manner. You no longer have cravings, withdrawal sickness, and clouded thinking. There is a lot of misinformation out there.

Unfortunately, doctors and addiction “experts” sometimes are responsible for spreading wrong information about Suboxone and similar medications. I recommend going to a top expert in the field to learn about the importance of Suboxone treatment combined with therapy.

For example, you could read the book, “Overcoming Opioid Addiction,” by Adam Bisaga, M.D. The book explains the issues to family members in clear, easy to understand language. You may also want to give a copy to your family doctor to read.

Make it clear to the judge that you are in recovery and under the care of a doctor.

While some people do not agree if you take Suboxone, there is no doubt that you are in recovery. That is if a doctor prescribes it, and you take the medication as directed. And, you do not take any street drugs.

Being free from drugs while on Suboxone is sometimes referred to as “the new recovery.” In your case, the judge will likely not go through with forcing you into a rehab center if you are in a Suboxone program.

If you are successfully involved in a medication-assisted treatment program for opioid dependence, you may want to hire a lawyer if faced with a court order to go to a drug addiction treatment program.

I’m using heroin, but I have a job and a family. My mother wants to force me into rehab.

Rehab is not the only solution, and sometimes, it is not the best solution. Heroin addiction is a medical condition that responds well to treatment. And, the medical treatment is available in a doctor’s office. Your best chance to continue taking care of your family and continuing with your work is to enter an MAT program.

If you are in Florida, you are welcome to call me, Mark Leeds, D.O. We offer in-office treatment and telemedicine/telehealth services. If you want, you are welcome to bring your mother to an appointment. I would be happy to talk with her about why outpatient medication-assisted treatment may be the best option.

Do you know how to get someone to go to rehab or get medical help with opioid addiction without involuntary commitment?

I recommend reading the book I mentioned above, “Overcoming Opioid Addiction.” You can read it and give it to your mother or other family members. It is interesting to learn about the history of opioid addiction and opioid epidemics.

Our country has been through this before many times. And, it is interesting to see how public policy regarding opioid addiction must change.

The author compares our response to the opioid epidemic to that of the HIV epidemic. The comparison is valid because HIV and opioid addiction are deadly conditions that, with proper treatment, become manageable chronic conditions.

It is essential to be aware that rehab without proper medical treatment does not give you the best chance for success in opioid and alcohol addiction treatment. If you do choose to go to rehab, be sure that they offer medical treatment.

It is also essential that they provide appropriate therapy services. Dr. Bisaga’s book has a convenient checklist to use when questioning rehabs about their services.

It is time for you to make a decision when a family member confronts you with forced rehab. You know that it is time to quit drugs or alcohol now. Sit down with your loved one and review your options. If you are open-minded about getting help, you may be able to skip the forced rehab altogether.

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