One of the hardest things in the world to do is to convince an addicted person that they have a problem. Denial is a harsh reality of this all-consuming disease. It’s a barrier that prevents millions of people in the United States from seeking the treatment they need for alcohol or drug abuse.
If the individual is out of control, or they’re putting their or someone else’s life at risk, involuntary commitment to an addiction recovery treatment facility could be necessary.
Can you make someone go to rehab? Choosing to get someone into rehab against their will is a big decision, and it should be a last resort. Read on to discover the 10 steps you should take before considering such drastic action as involuntary commitment to an inpatient treatment center.
1. Be Realistic
In many cases, it’s almost as hard for friends and family to grasp the extent of a substance abuse problem as it is for the person themselves. Relentless honesty is necessary to get the best chance of helping someone who has a drug or alcohol addiction. That means assessing how severe the situation is and not making any allowances for harmful behavior, even if it seems to be kind in the short term.
2. Learn About Addiction
Now that you’ve realized the extent of your addicted loved one’s substance use disorder, it’s time to learn everything there is to know about alcohol or drug addiction. When you’re armed with information about how the disease functions in the mind and body, you’re in the best position to make a plan of action and stick to it. The reality of the condition is bleak, and you’ll learn that it’s far from the fun, harmless pastime the sufferer makes it out to be.
Plus, it’ll be much harder for them to lie to you — and as you probably already know, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the truth the deeper into addiction someone gets.
3. Don’t Provide Funding
People who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse tend to get highly adept at convincing their friends and family to give them money to fund their habits. If you’re concerned about their basic needs, give them vouchers or essentials such as food, drink and health products. There’s no legitimate reason to give money to someone who struggles to regulate their alcohol or drug use to a dangerous extent — no matter what they say.
Bear in mind that every time they abuse substances, they’re damaging their mental health and putting their physical health at risk. In the case of opiate withdrawal, you’ll need to take them to a hospital or other treatment facility. It’s better for them in the long run if you deny their next fix and let them detox in a safe environment.
4. Avoid Judgment and Blame
Judgment and blame tend to lead to shame and guilt, which are more likely to make someone use substances than stop using them. Although the behavior of an addicted person is often unacceptable, you’ll get the best results by remaining calm and avoiding arguments. Trauma, mental illness and other environmental, social and genetic factors can lead to addiction. Being accusatory or getting angry could trigger them.
This doesn’t mean you need to treat them like a child or skirt around the truth — it simply means remaining calm and constructive as much as possible.
5. Use Positive Reinforcement Where Possible
One of the best ways to practice being constructive is by offering positive reinforcement and avoiding negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement involves taking something away from a person as a consequence of unwanted behavior. The trouble with this method and addiction is the matter of motivation. Their priority as an addicted person is to obtain their substance of choice — so the only real motivator you can use is the substance itself.
If you keep threatening to take something away and don’t follow through, it’ll reinforce their behavior and they’ll see you as a soft touch. The only real deal you can make with an addict is to offer them something in return for successfully completing rehab.
6. Consult an Addiction Specialist
After you’ve delved into your own research, it’s a good idea to write down questions about anything you’re not sure of and speak to an expert. Here at Calusa Recovery, we’re happy to help with any inquiry. Even if we’re not in the best position to help, we’ll do our best to provide advice and connect you with appropriate services.
You might come across contradictory advice online, so it’s a good idea to ask about anything you’re unsure about. As you gain a deeper understanding of addiction and addiction treatment, you’ll get more confident about making decisions and sticking to them.
7. Be Supportive of Your Loved One
It’s no exaggeration to state that addicted people’s brains have been hijacked by the substances they’re addicted to. Drug and alcohol use leads to imbalances in essential chemicals in our brains that are responsible for regulation of mood, motivation, pleasure and reward. Furthermore, they affect the central nervous system — which dictates essential functions like sleep, movement, excitement and depression — to varying degrees.
As such, trying to reason with them about their behavior is unlikely to have much impact. The best thing you can do is love, lend a listening ear and ensure they have a support system around them full of people who are dedicated to helping them heal.
8. Take Them to a Health Care Professional
If they’re still resistant after you’ve made the effort to give them informed advice about seeking professional help, see if you can get them to explore their treatment options with their doctor. Make it clear that you’re just going to talk about the recovery process and there’s no obligation to do anything but talk. Hearing the same sentiment from a health care professional that they’ve recently heard from you might be the catalyst they need to get help.
If you’ve taken the addicted person to the doctor and they’re not changing their attitude or perception of the situation, take a step back. Read through your journal for the last few months and assess whether you’re making progress or you’ve hit a brick wall. If you think it’s time to take stronger action, we’d recommend consulting a professional interventionist for advice. In many instances, this route is highly effective.
9. Stage an Intervention
If you can’t convince your addicted loved one to get into an addiction treatment center, consider gathering together their closest friends and relatives to stage an intervention. This involves everyone involved writing a letter expressing their love and concern for the addicted individual. The emotion of this scenario is overwhelming, and it’s very hard for someone to deny a message when it’s delivered from the heart, without anger.
However, there are some people who are so embroiled in their substance use disorder that they don’t even respond to an intervention. If this is the case and you’re worried that they’re a risk to themselves or others, it’s time to look up the involuntary commitment laws in your state.
10. Court-Ordered Rehab
In Florida, there are two ways of getting someone you love involuntarily committed to rehab. The first one is the same as everywhere else and would involve you turning them in on criminal charges. This doesn’t need to be as drastic as it sounds, and despite what your instant reaction might be, it’s not a betrayal of your loved one. It’s actually the kindest and most humane thing you can do for someone who’s struggling with an untreated chronic disease.
While the first option may be necessary if you’re worried about an immediate risk of harm, there’s also the option to petition the judge under the Marchman Act. This is likely to take a little longer than criminal court, but it’s a clear route to getting someone who’s lost their capacity for rational decision-making the help they badly need.
Two Options for Getting a Court Order
If you’re a Florida resident, you benefit from the option of the Marchman Act. However, it’s important that you don’t write off the idea of helping your loved one by sending them through the criminal court. If you feel it’s a matter of life or death, don’t think twice about reporting them for possession or a DUI — a blemish on their public record is far less harmful in the long term.
The Marchman Act
You can seek an emergency court order for rehab under Florida law using the Marchman Act. Families can use this act to file a petition to a judge and jury that decides whether the person is eligible for an involuntary assessment. You can only apply for this if you believe they’re a danger to themselves or other people and have lost self-control to the extent that they’re no longer capable of making the decision whether or not to seek treatment at a rehab center.
Criminal court is the route you might choose to take in case of an immediate emergency. This would involve calling the police on your loved one and reporting them for a misdemeanor such as possession or DUI.
If they already have a criminal record, there’s a very real risk they might go to jail — which would not be a desirable outcome. However, if it’s the person’s first offense and there’s evidence the crime occurred exclusively as a result of drug or alcohol use, the judge is highly likely to send them to rehab.
How Long Is Court-Ordered Addiction Treatment?
If your petition is successful, the judge will order an assessment. If the individual is diagnosed with a substance use disorder, they’ll attend court-ordered rehab for up to 60 days. This doesn’t mean they’re limited to this number of days, however. There’s the possibility for the court to extend the order upon hearing testimony from an expert who argues that the individual requires a longer stay in rehab. Likewise, if they don’t require the full 60 days of treatment, they’ll leave as soon as they’re ready.
Is Involuntary Rehab Effective?
Court-ordered rehab has an unfairly bad reputation. When someone is resistant to treatment, the reason is usually the addiction itself. Once they begin treatment and clear their system of the substances that were ruining their life, they may see their immediate circumstances in an entirely new light. In many cases, people become more receptive to treatment as they progress through the process and start to understand the benefits.
Do the Courts Pay for the Substance Abuse Treatment Program?
The court doesn’t get involved with the financial side of rehab, but that shouldn’t put anyone off from applying for help using the Marchman Act. There’s a range of options to suit different budgets, with most people’s insurance providing some form of coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid, Medicare and most private insurance plans offer some level of coverage for chemical dependency treatment.
At our Fort Myers rehab, we work with clients and their families to find the solution that’s best for them, including helping to verify insurance and make arrangements for deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
Get Further Advice on Court-Ordered Rehab
If you’re concerned that a friend or family member has a problem with drugs or alcohol that’s beyond their control, you might need to consider involuntary commitment to Florida drug treatment. Call Calusa Recovery today at 844-254-9664 to speak to one of our expert advisors about the next steps for your loved one.