Can a Drug Addict Be Forced Into Rehab?

Written by Jackie Calkins

When you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs, watching him or her spiral out of control can be the most heartbreaking thing you ever experience. The impact that addiction can have on you simply as a bystander can be so immense that you will do anything just to make it stop. There is no shortage of people who find themselves hitting a wall when dealing with a loved one who is addicted to drugs. Many of those people find themselves searching for a way to get their loved ones into treatment as quickly as possible, even if it means forcing them in. In some states, there is no way that someone can force another person into treatment. However, in the majority of states in the country, there are laws that exist that can allow the loved ones of a drug addict to admit them into treatment without their consent. 

The Baker Act and the Marchman Act

In several states across America, both the Baker Act and the Marchman Act are in effect and work to involuntarily admit people who are struggling with mental illness and substance use disorders.

The Baker Act

The Baker Act, which is in place in 46 states, provides emergency services to someone who is mentally ill. It is only legal to impose the Baker Act upon someone if the individual:

  • Is believed to be mentally ill 
  • Has refused any voluntary care
  • Is unable to determine if he or she needs professional care
  • Is at risk for harming him/herself and/or others if treatment is not obtained

When the Baker Act is being used to help an individual, that individual will be placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. During that time he or she will be examined and supervised to determine a further course of care. Depending on the results of that 72-hour window, the individual may be released or referred for professional treatment. The Baker Act is only utilized for use on those individuals experiencing mental illness. 

The Marchman Act

The Marchman Act is similar to the Baker Act, however, it is designed to help people with substance use disorders, not mental illnesses. In 36 states, friends, family, or loved ones of a drug addict or alcoholic can use the Marchman Act to involuntarily have him or her admitted into emergency care that includes assessment and stabilization. 

It is important to know that not every person with a substance use disorder can be “Marchman acted.” Of course, you might think that since your loved one’s substance abuse is out of control and he or she does not want to get him that the Marchman Act can be used. However, that is not always the case. In order to employ the Marchman Act, the following criteria need to be met:

  • There is reason to believe that the individual has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse and either:
    • Has inflicted or has threatened/attempted to inflict physical harm on themselves or others
    • Is incapable of making a rational decision regarding accepting professional treatment 

The Marchman Act states that individuals can only be involuntarily held for five days. During that time, medical and psychiatric professionals can help encourage professional treatment. However, the individual does not need to accept further care if he or she does not want to. 

Both the Baker Act and the Marchman Act are highly effective in detaining individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others for a short period of time. This process allows for the loved ones of the individual to catch their breath and begin working on what the next step will be. For many individuals, being put in an involuntary hold of any kind serves as rock bottom. As a result, many people continue on with treatment that helps them regain control of their lives. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone, which is why it is critical to have other methods of hopefully getting a loved one into treatment. 

two woman having a serious conversation

Getting Someone into Treatment with an Intervention

Outside of employing the Baker Act or the Marchman Act, the loved ones of a drug addict and/or someone who is mentally ill are not left with many options for getting him or her professional help. If someone does not want to get help, he or she does not have to — bottom line. And, even if someone could be forced into treatment, he or she has to put in effort and dedication in order to gain anything of substance from his or her care. A person has to want to get sober, or else it does not work. 

This is why so many people turn to interventions to get their loved ones into treatment. An intervention provides friends, family, and loved ones of a drug user several methods of encouraging his or her acceptance of treatment.

If you are thinking of holding an intervention for your loved one, there are some things you need to know prior to doing so. Reaching out for guidance from a professional interventionist can help make your intervention as successful as possible. Your entire goal is to get your loved one to accept treatment, and you can encourage that by:

  • Providing ultimatums (e.g. “If you do not go to treatment, I will file for divorce”)
  • Setting boundaries and informing the user of those boundaries 
  • Offering your continual support to the user if he or she accepts treatment
  • “Raising the bottom” on your loved one (this refers to implementing action that causes the user to hit rock bottom, such as by kicking him/her out of the house, no longer providing him/her with money, taking his/her children away, etc.)

Interventions can be filled with emotions and extremely difficult to carry out on your own. Hiring a professional interventionist is your best bet at helping get your loved one to want to accept treatment and want to stop using for good. 

Does Someone You Love Need Professional Help for a Substance Use Disorder? Call JourneyPure Right Now.

If you have a loved one who is in need of help, do not hesitate to reach out to us at JourneyPure. We can help you get your loved one the care that he or she needs. You are not alone.

So, call us today. We can help.