Can You Send Someone to Rehab Against Their Will?

For someone dealing with a loved one’s substance addiction, there are a lot of questions you probably have. Maybe you are wondering, can you force someone into rehab or can you force someone to go to rehab?

The short and simple answer is yes, you can force or involuntarily commit someone to rehab depending on the state you live in. In a lot of cases, this is because people who are struggling with substance use disorder are unable to accept or even recognize that they need help. Involuntary commitment involves taking away a person’s freedom and it is not a decision that should be made lightly. There are two reasons to justify taking away a person’s rights. The first is to protect people from harm and the second is to protect the individual from harming him or herself. Due to involuntary commitment being very controversial some states have passed laws that enabled people who abuse substances to be involuntarily committed while other states have not.

Making a Loved One Enter Rehab: Laws in Different States

It can be a difficult decision to try to force a loved one into rehab. However, sometimes it is the best option in order to protect your loved one and the safety of others. Depending on the state you live in it may be possible to force your loved one into rehab.  In 37 states and the District of Columbia, it is currently possible to force a loved one into involuntary rehab. The only states that you cannot involuntarily commit someone are Oregon, Nevado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Illinois, Alabama, New York, New Hampshire, New Jewelry, and Maryland. Two states have restrictions on involuntary commitment. In Montana, you can only commit someone who has an alcohol addiction and in Vermont, you can only commit someone who has a substance use disorder, but not an alcohol addiction.

While a lot of state laws covering involuntary commitment are similar, there are variations in how long a person can be detained before a hearing. This can range from 48 hours to 5 days. For example, in Louisiana, a person can only be destined for 15 days before a hearing. Therefore, it is important to know your specific state laws before attempting to put a loved one in forced rehab.

If you are wondering how to involuntarily commit someone to drug rehab, it first needs to be proven the individual is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Generally, there needs to be some form of evidence to prove that the loved one has threatened, attempted or inflicted physical harm on himself or another person. If the person is not detained there needs to be proof that he will inflict physical harm on himself or others. A final way a person can be forced into rehab is if they are so incapacitated by their substance use disorder that they cannot provide for their basic needs such a food, clothing, and shelter. Also, it must be proven that there is no adult present that is willing to provide those needs for the loved one suffering from an addiction.

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The Baker Act

If you live in Florida, the Baker Act might be able to help you force your loved one into rehab. The Baker Act is a law in Florida that permits families of loved ones to provide emergency mental health services and detain people for a short time who are impaired due to mental illness. These people need to be unable to determine their own needs for treatment. People who need to be involuntarily committed are no longer able to engage in self-control and have a high possibility of hurting themself or others. The Baker Act defines mental illness as an excluding condition that only manifests when a person engages in substance use disorder and becomes impaired.

The Marchman Act

Another act that could help you admit your loved one into rehab if you live in Florida is the Marchman Act. The Marchman Act enables an individual to be forced to have their situation assessed and possibly into treatment for substance use disorder against their own will. Specific criteria need to be met in order for this to happen. For example, a responsible person such as a spouse, relative, guardian, or 3 adults with knowledge of the person’s drug abuse may apply to have that person admitted if the loved one is likely to harm themself or others. Also, if the loved one is so under the influence of drugs that they cannot recognize that they desperately need treatment.

When to Consider a Professional Interventionist

It is very difficult to help a loved one who is suffering from an addiction. This is often because the loved one does not see that they have an addiction and need help. People who struggle with addiction tend to be in denial about their situation and unwilling to change and find treatment. They may be oblivious to the fact that their actions are harming the people they love.

It’s time to consider a professional interventionist when your attempts to talk your loved one into treatment or stopping their addiction fail. A professional interventionist will work to help you organize an effective intervention by taking into consideration your loved one’s particular circumstance, offering the best approaches, and guiding you on the type of treatment and follow-up plan is most likely to work.

Further, a professional interventionist can help you if your loved one has a history of serious mental illness, taking several mood-altering drugs, has a history of violent behavior, and has proven to have suicidal tendencies or just spoke about suicide.

Unfortunately, not all interventions work out the way you hoped they would. Sometimes your loved one will refuse your treatment plan or become enraged and tell you they don’t need help. If this doesn’t help, sometimes putting your loved one in involuntary rehab for drugs is the best way to help them.

Finding Treatment for Addiction

At the end of the day, all you want is for your loved one to be safe and return to the healthy life they had before drugs. Finding a high-quality rehab clinic can provide help in assisting a loved one in overcoming their debilitating addiction.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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