What Legal Options You Have When a Loved One Refuses Addiction Treatment?

Everyone has wondered at one time or another what to do when a loved one needs help but refuses that help. It can be especially frustrating when that loved one is involved in a behavior that is dangerous and is causing harm to them, like addiction. You know the only way to keep them healthy and safe is treatment but all your attempts to get them there have failed. What are your legal options if that person refuses treatment and needs it? Can you force an adult into treatment?

Different states have different laws regarding this. Currently 38 states have laws in place that allow an addict to be detained for a certain amount of time. Some states have laws that will force addiction treatment if several family members or friends can petition to seek addiction treatment and prove in court that the person involved needs this therapy to live. Assessments of the individual will be conducted by medical staff and determined if all the criteria for treatment are met. The court would then give the individual a specific amount of time to be in the treatment program.

There is a myth that forcing someone into a treatment facility for addiction isn’t going to help that person at all. There is the belief that one must admit to the addiction in order to move forward with therapy. This is not true. Studies have found a negligible difference between those who voluntarily enter rehab versus those who have been forced. There is always the situation where the addict will leave the facility after the court order has been fulfilled, after all, there are no locks on the doors.


N.A. “FAQ: Unified Family Court.” Mypalmbeachclerk.com (Website). (2015).
  • 2 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • The problem is a lot of times addicts end up in jail rather than a treatment facility. It always seems to come to that first before they will admit they need help. I know that is what has happened to almost every addict I know. They are either arrested for possession, distribution, theft, driving under the influence, etc. Sometimes that is what it takes to get someone the help they need. Rock Bottom.
  • I'd like to ask if what kind of treatment is administered to counter/treat drug addiction? Is the "treatment" drug-free to "treat drug addiction?"  What's the difference then?  Or the treatment is another doctor's drug prescription to "hide" the symptoms of the body telling us "I'm in trouble , help me off my addiction!"
    I'm honestly seeking answers.
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