Should You Force Someone Into Rehab?
If you love someone who is struggling with addiction, all you want to do is help her. In an ideal world you would confront her and she would admit that she has a problem. She would thank you for your offer to help and agree to get treatment. Unfortunately, these scenarios rarely play out so well. Addicts are great at denial, lying and making excuses. If you have reached the end of your rope with a loved one, can you, and should you, force her to go to rehab?
Can You Force Rehab?
The first question to ask is whether it is even possible to force a loved one to get treatment. A person can be ordered by the court to receive treatment, but that requires the addict to be in trouble with the law.
There are several states in which family members can petition the court to have a loved one forced into treatment.
In fact, there are only a dozen or so states that do not allow for this. In some states, even a doctor can force a patient into addiction treatment for up to several days at a time.
Pros And Cons Of Forced Rehab
There are both benefits and negative consequences of involuntary rehab.
Benefits Of Involuntary Rehab
If you live in a state in which you can either petition the court or ask your doctor to mandate treatment for an addicted loved one, your next question should be whether this is the best option.
Perhaps the most important benefit of being able to force someone to get care is that it can save a life. Certain states have passed laws allowing for forced rehab because of tragic deaths. In Kentucky, for instance, Casey’s Law passed after a young man died from a heroin overdose. His mother pushed for the new law because she felt there were too few resources.
Involuntary rehab might also be positive for those addicts who end up benefiting from the treatment. Since Ohio passed its law two years ago allowing families to force relatives into rehab, only one case has been taken. The woman in question actually continued her treatment beyond the court-ordered period.
If other addicts are forced to seek care, they may realize that the treatment is helpful and that they want to continue and get better. Research has found that coerced treatment, at least through the court system, can be effective.
Negative Consequences Of Forced Rehab
For many families, coerced rehab may seem like the only option. You see your loved one unraveling in front of you and feel helpless. She refuses to get help, yet she is on a collision course with disaster.
Are there any downsides to forcing her into rehab if that is an option? Research tells us that intrinsically motivated addicts will be most successful in rehab. If you have to force your loved one to get help, her odds of success are automatically lowered.
The truth is that the best chance of a successful recovery comes from voluntary care with experts who use effective, evidence-based methods for treatment. If you have an addicted loved one, do everything you can to lovingly support her and convince her that she needs help.
Enlist the assistance of a professional interventionist if your efforts fail. Then, find a treatment facility that has an excellent reputation for caring for vulnerable addicts and that uses treatments based on research. These things together will be the best help your loved one can get.
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