Can You Force Someone Into Rehab Without A Court Order?

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If you want to know if you can force someone into rehab, this is the article for you. You would probably go to great lengths to help your loved one realize and admit themselves to an addiction treatment program. In certain cases, simply talking to them about their actions and expressing your concerns can motivate them to seek substance abuse treatment.

Sometimes, conversations about a family member’s drug addiction and its negative impact aren’t enough, and some people want to know if they can force someone into rehab.

Can You Force Someone Into Rehab?

Yes, in some states, you can force someone to go to rehab if they are under 18 and you are their legal guardian. If they are over 18, you will need to go to court in front of a judge and prove the individual’s drug use is affecting their ability to make sound decisions and is at risk of harming themselves. As of 2023, 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow for involuntary commitment for drug and alcohol abuse. But, each state predetermines the minimum and maximum duration of stay.

Another way is through the drug courts, which require nonviolent offenders with a substance use disorder to attend a supervised treatment program rather than prison. In 2015, about 30% of people aged 12 and older who got help for substance abuse were sent to treatment by the courts or criminal justice system. But to qualify for drug court, a person must have been arrested, admitted guilt for the crime they were charged with, and agree to follow the court-ordered treatment program.

Read more: Understanding the Different Types of Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

 As of 2023, 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow for involuntary commitment for drug and alcohol abuse.

Involuntary Commitment Laws In The US

A study conducted in 2015 found that among the states that have laws allowing involuntary commitment, almost 40% of them rarely or never utilize these laws for the civil commitment of adults. Here are a few examples of involuntary treatment laws in the United States.

  • Marchman Act: The Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993 is a law in Florida that aims to offer short-term confinement for individuals who require urgent assessment and treatment for substance abuse.
  • Baker Act: Passed in 1972, the Baker Act of Florida allows individuals to be involuntarily committed for mental health examination and treatment.
  • Casey’s Law: Casey’s Law of Kentucky, enacted in 2004, permits parents, relatives, or friends to intervene and appeal to the court for treatment on behalf of their loved one struggling with substance abuse.
  • Ricky’s Law: Washington state implemented the Involuntary Treatment Act in 2018, which enables the involuntary confinement of both adults and young people who are a threat to themselves, others, or property, or are incapacitated due to drug or alcohol misuse.
  • Substance Use Involuntary Commitment
  • In Colorado, a civil commitment order granted by a judge allows individuals who refuse voluntary treatment, pose a risk to themselves or others, and would benefit from sober treatment to be committed to substance abuse treatment.
  • Massachusetts General Law Chapter 123, Section 35: This law permits a police officer, physician, spouse, blood relative, guardian, or court official to submit a request to the court, asking them to commit an individual to treatment for a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). A 2015 study revealed that of the states with involuntary commitment statutes, nearly 40% never or rarely apply the statutes to the civil commitment of adults for SUD.
A study conducted in 2015 found that among the states that have laws allowing involuntary commitment, almost 40% of them rarely or never utilize these laws for the civil commitment of adults.

Requirements For Court-Ordered Rehab

For an individual to be court-ordered to go to a rehab facility, they must meet certain requirements based on each state’s specific statutes. Most of these laws require the following:

  • The individual must present a threat to themselves or others.
  • Their addiction has rendered them mentally or physically disabled.
  • Their addiction or pre-existing health conditions must render them unable to make sound decisions.
  • They cannot accomplish basic needs like showering, cooking, cleaning, or working.
  • They have lost total control of their life, putting their drug abuse above anything else.

Here’s an example of how a court-ordered commitment works in North Carolina.

  1. Filing a Petition: If you believe a person poses a threat to themselves or others due to mental illness or substance abuse, you can go to the local magistrate’s office and file a petition for involuntary commitment.
  2. Order for Custody and Transportation: If the magistrate determines the criteria are met, they will issue an order for custody and transportation. This allows a law enforcement officer to take the person into custody and transport them to a doctor or mental health professional for examination. This is not an order of commitment but for evaluation purposes.
  3. Examination: The person will be taken to a designated facility, such as a Walk-in Center or local hospital emergency department, for examination as directed by the magistrate.
  4. Admission: If the examiner determines that inpatient commitment is necessary, the crisis center or hospital will search for an available bed in a psychiatric facility. The person may be admitted to a nearby facility or held in the crisis center or emergency department until a bed becomes available.
  5. Transport to Facility: Once a bed is available, a law enforcement officer will transport the person to the 24-hour facility. Another examination will be conducted upon admission or within 24 hours.
  6. Termination of Process: The process can be terminated if the examiner determines that the person does not meet the criteria for involuntary commitment. In such cases, the person will be released from custody and returned to their residence by the law enforcement officer.

Does Forcing Someone Into Drug Rehab Work?

According to a research-based guide published by NIDA, individuals forced into substance abuse treatment tend to stay in rehab longer and achieve similar, if not better, outcomes than their peers who entered treatment voluntarily.

Forcing someone to go to rehab against their will is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. However, there are situations where involuntary commitment to a rehab facility becomes necessary if family and loved ones believe that the person’s actions are putting their well-being or the safety of others at risk.

Read more: Is Alcohol Rehab Covered by Insurance?

If you know someone who could benefit from drug treatment, contact Oasis Recovery Center.

Contact Oasis Recovery Center

If you know someone who could benefit from drug treatment, contact Oasis Recovery Center. Our addiction treatment center is not affiliated with court-ordered commitment laws, but our rehab programs can still perfectly address drug and alcohol addictions. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment options that address addictions, mental health disorders, and their underlying causes and factors. Call today, and one of our admissions agents can help you find a suitable program.


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