What Happens if Someone Refuses To Go To Rehab?
If someone refuses to go to rehab, you may still be able to get them the help they need. Currently, 37 states have involuntary commitment laws where you can force a person into rehab for drug or alcohol use if they are a threat to themself/others or if their addiction is believed to be impairing their ability to make good decisions. Another option is going to drug court to have them ordered into a treatment program.
How Can I Help Someone Who Refuses To Go To Rehab?
When you first notice signs of a substance use disorder, more commonly referred to as addiction, a good next step is to educate yourself on the matter, find resources in your area, and then reach out to the person individually.
Sometimes, this is a gentle conversation is enough to get a person talking about substance abuse treatment in recovery. In other cases, they may become hostile, defensive, or simply deny the truth. If you find that someone is in need of addiction treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will agree to receive it, even if you have the best intentions at heart.
Unfortunately, if they continue to go on without getting the help they need, it could seriously impact their physical and mental health; their relationships; and their future. The best thing you can do in the meantime is to try to support their well-being and ensure their basic needs are met. Beyond that, the next steps depend heavily on where you live.
Addiction treatment centers will help a person who doesn’t want to be there, so long as it’s within the confines of state law. In most states, legal guardians of children under the age of 18 can force their children into drug or alcohol rehab even if the child doesn’t consent. However, if the person isn’t a family member or they’re over 18, you’ll need to go another route.
1. Involuntary Commitment Laws
States recognized that people who need help with drug abuse won’t always be comfortable consenting to getting it. As such, many have implemented involuntary commitment laws that apply to individuals over 18 years of age. You will need to check the laws of your state to be sure.
2. Drug Court Orders
If your state does not have involuntary commitment laws, you may need to go through the drug courts. These courts are responsible for diverting any nonviolent criminal who has a substance use disorder into a treatment program. This would apply if the person you’re trying to help is using illicit substances that could land them in prison, or if they have committed crimes while under the influence, such as assault.
This approach can certainly be scary, especially since you might not want to put the individual through the potential trauma associated with being arrested and pleading guilty to a charged offense. However, it is a viable way to force someone into a program where they will ultimately get the help they need.
3. Persistent Interventions
If involuntary commitment is not an option and you want to avoid court-ordered treatment, your final option is to be persistent in supporting the individual with an intervention. It could take months or even years before they admit they have a problem and agree to get help with it, but you can take small steps to protect their well-being.
In the instance that the person is dealing with a disorder like depression or anxiety, connecting them with mental health treatment for that condition could help them get a step closer to voluntarily entering rehab. Until then, just try to be there for them.
What States Have Involuntary Commitment Laws?
As of 2022, 37 states and the District of Columbia have statues on involuntary commitment. The details vary widely from one jurisdiction to the next, and a person must meet certain criteria before you can put these laws into action.
Under the Marchman Act, which is a law in Florida, involuntary commitment applies if there is a good faith reason to believe a person is suffering from substance abuse and:
- They have lost the power to control their substance use AND
- They are likely to harm themself or others OR
- They are so impaired that they are incapable of seeking addiction treatment
The states that do not allow you to force someone into treatment for drug or alcohol addiction are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
At Zinnia Health, we believe every individual can recover from drug use as long as they have the right support behind them. If you’d like more information about our approach, just call (855) 430-9439 to speak with our team.
Is Forcing Someone Into Rehab Effective?
Some people believe that you cannot force a person to change, but the truth is that someone who is dealing with drug or alcohol abuse may not be able to think clearly and involuntary treatment could be what they need most.
Between intense cravings for drugs and the potential for mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, a person suffering from addiction may be easily overwhelmed. They may feel unworthy of treatment or be suffering from paranoia that causes them to believe the worst in treatment providers and people like you who are trying to get them help.
Ultimately, if you are able to get a person into drug rehab, that is likely the best place for them to be. Once they are surrounded with medical professionals and are able to get through that initial 2-3 week period of drug or alcohol withdrawal, they will begin to see the road ahead and realize that a drug-free life is possible.
Next Steps To Get Someone Into Rehab
The timeline from recognizing that someone needs help with addiction to actually getting them into a facility varies from one individual to the next. What matters is that you don’t give up.
If you’re prepared to help someone get into rehab, here are the next steps to consider:
- Educate Yourself: Explore the intricacies of drug addiction, the signs of drug overdose, and what the detox process is like. This will allow you to protect the well-being of the person you’re trying to help and paint a picture of what recovery looks like.
- Find Resources: Explore the inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities in your area, along with the hospitalization options and medication-assisted treatment programs that are accessible near you. If the person decides to pursue treatment, you need to be able to act quickly.
- Learn State Law: The laws in California are vastly different from those in Kentucky or Rhode Island. If you are seeking out information on involuntary commitment, you can speak to your local Department of Health or a nearby attorney for answers. Be careful of relying on information from the internet.