Can You Force Someone into Rehab?

Families of loved ones struggling with addiction often find themselves asking: Can we force them into rehab? This question often reflects the weight of concern, love, and at times, desperation that caregivers feel.

If you are in this situation, maybe you want a loved one over the age of 18 to enter treatment programs so they can get better. However, they refuse to go into addiction treatment. Do you have the right to force them?

In this blog post, we aim to clarify whether this option is possible. We’ll answer this question, explore which states permit it, and discuss strategies to get your loved one the help they need.

Wife looking sad while husband is drunk on the couchCan you force someone into rehab?

The short answer is yes, but the context in which this is possible is highly specific. It depends on the individual’s behavior and the laws in your state.There are involuntary commitment laws that may allow you to force someone into rehab.

Involuntary commitment refers to the legal process of placing an individual into mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment centers against their will. This is possible when they meet specific criteria, such as being a danger to themselves or others due to substance use.

At present, 37 states and the District of Columbia have involuntary commitment laws for substance abuse. Depending on the laws of your state, it may or may not be possible to force someone into rehab.

Which states allow involuntary commitment?

Understanding involuntary commitment laws for substance use disorder requires a grasp of which states have active policies. As mentioned, the District of Columbia and 37 states have involuntary commitment laws for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Delaware
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Hawaii
  11. Indiana
  12. Iowa
  13. Kansas
  14. Kentucky
  15. Louisiana
  16. Maine
  17. Massachusetts
  18. Michigan
  19. Minnesota
  20. Mississippi
  21. Missouri
  22. Montana
  23. Nebraska
  24. North Carolina
  25. North Dakota
  26. Ohio
  27. Oklahoma
  28. Pennsylvania
  29. Rhode Island
  30. South Carolina
  31. South Dakota
  32. Tennessee
  33. Texas
  34. Vermont
  35. Virginia
  36. Washington
  37. West Virginia
  38. Wisconsin

Examples of state laws on involuntary treatment

Marchman Act (Florida)

The Florida law known as the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993 aims to offer short-term detention for individuals requiring urgent assessment and treatment for substance abuse issues.

Ricky’s Law

In 2018, Washington state implemented the Involuntary Treatment Act, which permits the involuntary detainment of adults and youth deemed a risk to themselves, others, property, or impaired due to substance abuse.

Casey’s Law (Kentucky)

In Kentucky, the parents of Matthew Casey Wethington took legal action to establish Casey’s Law following their son’s tragic death from a heroin overdose in 2002. Enacted in 2004, this law empowers concerned individuals to seek court-ordered treatment for a loved one struggling with substance abuse.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 123, sec 35

Allows a qualified person to request a court to involuntarily commit a person whose alcohol or other drug use puts themselves or others at risk.

Mother hugging her small daughter while husband is drinking in the background

Substance Use Emergency Commitment/Substance Use Involuntary Commitment

The state law in Colorado permits individuals to undergo substance abuse treatment under a civil commitment order issued by a judge. This option is reserved for those who decline voluntary treatment, present an immediate danger to themselves or others, are in stable medical and psychiatric condition, and are expected to benefit from treatment while sober.

Pros and Cons of Involuntary Rehab

There are different advantages and disadvantages to forcing someone into rehab. Even if it’s considered legal in your state, it’s important to explore both sides before making a decision.


  • Immediate Help – Solves the immediate problem of substance abuse to prevent further drug overdose risks.
  • Legal Mandate – Creates a legal framework for treatment, which can have more staying power than voluntary treatment.
  • Structured Environment – Provides a structured environment that is otherwise difficult to attain through voluntary means.


  • Resentment and Strained Relationships – Can lead to the breakdown of trust and worsen the relationship dynamics.
  • Short-Term Solution – While it addresses the immediate issue, it doesn’t guarantee that the individual will continue with treatment or maintain recovery after release.
  • Ethical Concerns –  Raises questions about individual autonomy and the ethics of forced treatment.

Exploring alternatives to involuntary rehab

In a crisis, instead of immediately turning to involuntary commitment, there are alternative strategies and support systems that can effectively help without the need for legal actions.

Intervention strategies

Interventions are carefully planned meetings in which close family members and friends confront the individual who has a substance abuse problem. A professional intervention specialist helps guide the process and ensures it is safe and effective.

Family support options

Engaging with family support groups like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or seeking the guidance of a family therapist can provide much-needed support and insights into how to approach a loved one’s addiction.

Community resources

Community programs offer various resources like counseling, group therapy, and educational workshops that can help you and your loved one understand and address the addiction.

Best drug and alcohol rehab in Redlands, CA

Addiction is a complex issue that doesn’t have an easy fix, be it through voluntary or involuntary rehab. The top priority is the health and safety of individuals dealing with substance abuse. Empathy, understanding, and a strategic approach can help achieve the best outcomes.

Remember, it’s important to seek advice from a medical professional like an addiction specialist before making any major decisions about rehab. To get help for a loved one struggling with addiction, contact Liberty House Recovery today. We are the best drug and alcohol rehab in Redlands, CA.