What Is Involuntary Rehab?

Involuntary rehabilitation is the term used to describe a situation where it is appropriate or necessary for a person to be placed in a rehabilitation facility without their consent.

For some who suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or a substance use disorder (SUD), making the voluntary choice to enter treatment is not probable or possible. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as denial of their condition or co-existing mental health issues.

As a result, many states in the US have created statutes that allow for the involuntary detention and treatment of people with addiction. Maximum commitment times vary from 72 hours to a year, with the average period being 90 days.

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When Is Involuntary Rehab Appropriate?

According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL), a person may be considered an appropriate candidate for involuntary placement in rehab if:

  • They are not physically safe around themselves or others.
  • They will be a physical threat to themselves or others, if not detained.
  • They cannot provide for basic needs such as food and shelter, and no one can provide these for them.

Involuntary rehab is appropriate only in some situations, and it is not a decision to take lightly. If a person is determined to be an appropriate candidate, it’s essential to follow the necessary guidelines to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

What Is The Process For Involuntary Rehab?

If a person’s situation is deemed appropriate for involuntary rehabilitation, several steps must generally be taken before a person can be placed. According to NAMSDL, these steps include:

1. Filing an emergency petition for commitment by someone who has knowledge of the individual’s condition.

In some states, only healthcare professionals treating the individual can file a petition for involuntary rehab admittance. In other states, it can be anyone who has knowledge of the individual’s condition. This can include friends, family members, or law enforcement.

2. Shortly after the petition is submitted, a healthcare professional who has examined the individual and can attest that their current state is compromised enough to warrant an involuntary placement, and they must prepare and file an affidavit.

While the individual has a right to refuse an examination, a court can take a person into custody despite their refusal.

3. Individuals who refuse involuntary rehab have the right to legal counsel and may hire an attorney at this time. If they cannot afford one, they will be represented by a court-appointed attorney.

It’s important to check your state’s laws and guidelines on who can petition and what specific rules must be followed to start this process.

Court-Ordered Rehab

Court-ordered rehab is perhaps the most common form of involuntary commitment. When a person finds themselves in a position where they have become court-involved and have reached the sentencing portion, a court can impose specific requirements that must be met to complete conditions set forth by the court rulings.

In this situation, the judge makes a ruling and sets forth the conditions or stipulations that must be met. This is usually in place of a jail sentence. A probation officer then follows up with the individual to ensure these conditions are met. Failure to comply with the court’s conditions often results in more restrictions or probation revocation, which means a person will be reprimanded and taken into custody again.

When a person is charged with a drug-related crime, some form of SUD treatment is usually required. Some states have drug courts, which have many rules that must be followed, as well as court hearings individuals must attend. A drug court is highly structured and has heavy oversight from law enforcement and healthcare providers, who work together to help individuals remain substance-free.

Other options beyond drug court include the completion of an SUD assessment by a professional who will determine if treatment or a court order to attend a treatment program is appropriate.

Most states require that the individual complete treatment before the conditions for their probation are recognized as having been met.

Effectiveness Of Involuntary Rehab

Involuntary rehabilitation should only be considered for individuals with acute needs that must be addressed immediately. It is implemented in specific circumstances and is not a process that can be easily used to get people, who might not otherwise want to go, into treatment. It is important to stress this, as efficacy on treatment outcomes is mixed.

When someone is placed into rehab involuntarily, the hope is that the treatment will help them find intrinsic value within themselves, which will then drive the individual to want to work toward recovery. This form of rehab has worked and helped many people get sober, but it is not without risks.

Involuntary rehab stays may increase the rate of relapse and overdose for the individual upon release. If a person feels they are being held against their will, they may resort back to previous use, only this time with a reduced tolerance, which increases the risk of overdose.

Involuntary Rehab Laws

According to NAMSDL, 37 states have laws that allow for the involuntary commitment of individuals suffering from a SUD. While there are laws in place that allow for involuntary commitment, many people may not be aware of this option or how the process is started.

Involuntary rehabilitation is utilized to treat both adults and children, as parental consent was enough to admit a child into treatment up to 61% of the time.

However, laws are constantly changing, and each state differs in how and when the laws could or would be applied. It’s important to look at your state’s specific guidelines regarding involuntary rehab commitment so that you understand how and when, or if, it would apply to your specific situation. Overall, it is important to follow the necessary procedures to evaluate and determine if it is necessary to involuntarily commit a person to treatment.

If you would like more information, visit your state government’s website to learn more about the local laws and processes surrounding involuntary treatment.

When To Get Help

When first encouraging your loved one to seek treatment, it’s important to set aside time to sit down and talk with them. This is when you can discuss your concerns and offer support, reminding them that you love them and are concerned about their wellbeing. It could be helpful to have information on different treatment options readily available. Alternatively, you might consider holding an intervention if you feel like a message of concern coming from a professional would be better received.

Remember that receiving treatment is a crucial, life-saving step towards recovery. To explore different rehab options and learn more, contact a treatment provider today.