Can You Force Someone Into Drug Rehab Treatment?

Alcohol and drug addiction is a heartbreaking condition for those surrounding an addict. It is extremely painful to watch someone you love destroy their life piece-by-piece as a result of an addiction to drugs or alcohol; a feeling Matthew Wethington’s mother knows all too well.

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In an attempt to combat his feelings of boredom in his teenage years Mathew Wethington decided to experiment with drugs. Once an energetic and popular young man, Wethington had no intention of slipping into addiction when he made that fateful choice to start using. His drug use escalated and soon hindered his ability to make rational decisions. While his mother pleaded for him to go to drug rehab, Matthew never saw the severity of his addiction and refused treatment.

Drug addiction is like dancing with a five-hundred pound gorilla, and when the gorilla wants to dance, you dance.

– Matthew’s mother

After a long battle with the disease, Wethington passed away at the young age of 23 from a Heroin overdose. While his untimely death is tragic, it raises an important question regarding loved ones and addiction:

Can you force someone into drug rehab treatment?

While it’s not as simple as dropping a loved one off at the doors of a treatment facility, forcing someone into treatment isn’t as unsuccessful as many rumors have shown.

In some states it is in fact legal for a family member to force an addict into drug and alcohol addiction treatment. One of the more progressive laws regarding addiction treatment is Florida’s Marchman Act, where an individual can be forced into drug rehab if either a spouse, relative, or, in the absence of family members, three people who have direct contact and understanding of the addict’s condition be present in order to petition for court ordered rehab.

But, does forced drug rehab actually work?

There is a common misconception that addiction treatment will only work if the individual is ready and willing to go. This, however, is not the case.

As a matter of fact, two of the primary reasons individuals end up entering a drug rehab facility, include:

  • Court ordered drug rehab
  • Family members or loved ones have urged them to seek help

Furthermore, evidence has shown that drug rehab treatment can be just as beneficial when the individual in need isn’t necessarily willing to start a treatment program. Some studies have shown that undergoing the process of court-ordered or forced treatment can lead many individuals to admit they actually need professional assistance.

In other words, while the addict may not be initially willing to seek treatment, if forced into a program, many addicts learn more about the severity of their addiction and accept that they need treatment. Drug rehab is no longer a forced idea, but something the addict is willing and ready to undergo.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, there is never a bad time to seek treatment. While voluntarily entering a drug rehab program may run smoother at first, being forced into a program isn’t necessarily a recipe for destruction. Many individuals may need that extra push to understand the severity of his or her addiction and will transition into an open-minded client that’s ready to reach recovery.


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