Should Someone be Forced into Treatment?

To break free from an addiction, the only legitimate course of action is treatment. It is hard, if not impossible, to successfully achieve sobriety in a healthy way without the resources of a professional rehab facility. Unfortunately, that can put loved ones in a predicament: Should you ever force someone into rehab? There is no straightforward answer to this question, and individuals should examine all angles to get loved ones the help they need in the appropriate manner.

Signs That Someone Requires Addiction Treatment

The first step in helping someone find treatment is determining that there is, in fact, an addiction problem that needs to be addressed. It is important not to confront people without a full understanding of the disease and how it is impacting their lives. Signs that someone requires addiction treatment may include health factors, financial trouble, mental health issues or consequences that are a direct result of the addiction.

Health is often the most visible and persuasive sign that individuals require addiction treatment. Drug or alcohol addictions can lead to overall poor health, cardiac problems, weight loss or weight gain, malnutrition and so many other unfavorable side effects. If these are noticeable, and addiction is clearly the cause, then it is a definite sign that assistance is required.

Individuals who are financially struggling as a result of excessive substance abuse may also need treatment. Because of the stronghold of addiction, some people may lose their homes, their cars and their life savings before seeking help.

Other factors that point to a person in dire need of addiction treatment might include worsening mental health or problematic relationships. For example, a person who gets divorced and subsequently loses a custody battle due to addiction might be in dire need of treatment, and is clearly struggling to overcome an addiction despite negative consequences.

Helping Loved Ones Who Are Ready to Seek Treatment

When loved ones are receptive to seeking treatment, it can be much easier. However, it is still important to take the right course of action to help individuals get the appropriate treatment in the appropriate timeframe.

First, it is not recommended to let people who acknowledge the need for treatment put it off. It can be tempting for individuals to say that they will go to rehab next week or next month, but there is never a better time than the present. Making concrete plans for as soon as possible is integral for optimal recovery.

Next, loved ones should conduct some research on the best type of addiction treatment program. Not all programs are the same, and they can vary wildly in terms of quality. Also begin the search by looking for programs that are accredited by the Joint Commission and other major governing bodies in the medical industry. Then, consider the types of programs available as well as the treatment methods that are used.

Staging an Intervention for a Loved One

Sometimes, loved ones are resistant to offers of help. They may deny that they have a problem, or they may deny that the problem is negatively impacting their life. It is not unusual for those struggling with addiction to avoid confrontation rather than address the issues of addiction. Should this be the case, sometimes an intervention is necessary.

An intervention is a deliberate meeting, often with an element of surprise, that confronts the individual struggling with addiction. Participants might share their feelings and express how much the individual means to them. All may discuss how the addiction is impacting their lives. An intervention is usually directed by a professional.

The goal of an intervention is to confront individuals who don’t want to take action and admit the reality of their addiction. It seeks to stop or minimize self-destructive behavior, and it should always have the health of the individual in mind.

Following an intervention, some individuals are ready to face the reality of the situation and begin treatment. In these cases, it is best to have already lined up a treatment option so substance abuse can cease immediately.

In some cases, however, individuals won’t want to act after an intervention. They may be angry, hostile or frustrated, or they may simply deny there is a problem at all. In these cases, it may still be best to force these individuals into an addiction treatment program.

Addressing the Legal Aspect of Involuntary Treatment

Forcing someone into addiction treatment may be a personal issue, but it is also a legal one. In this respect, the legal issues will vary between states.

In some states, anyone who poses a threat to themselves or to others can be checked into a treatment facility. However, this may need to be done after a spouse or a parent files for court-ordered treatment. In other states, it may only take three concerned individuals who believe that addiction treatment is the best course of action for the individual’s health.

Can Treatment be Successful if Patients are Forced into it?

Above all else, there is the question of whether patients forced into treatment will actually benefit from it. In a word, the answer to that question is yes.

Countless studies have shown that it matters very little why or how a person gets to a rehab facility. What matters most is the quality of the facility and what kind of treatment methods are offered. Patients don’t necessarily have to be receptive to the idea of treatment for it to be effective.

For this reason, the bigger question for loved ones should be what kind of treatment is best. Look for facilities offering evidence-based methods like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, dual diagnosis treatments and experiential therapies. It is through these programs that patients can begin the journey to sobriety and recovery, and it matters little how or why they were enrolled in the program to begin with.

Ideally, patients would go into addiction treatment receptive and willing to begin the process of recovery. However, even those forced into rehab can benefit from renewed health, sobriety and a new lease on life. In fact, they often thank the people who forced them into treatment initially. Free from the binds of addiction, it is easier to see clearly the reality of the situation.