Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 6/23/2021
Can My Family Force Me Into Rehab?
Can family force me into rehab? The idea of being sent away to rehab can be terrifying, especially if one does not know what to expect. Admittedly, the process of recovery from substance use disorder is not easy. It takes a great deal of time and effort, but achieving abstinence is possible. However, no matter what age someone is, recovery is more successful when a person wants to recover.
Teens or young adults with substance use disorder often wonder: can you be forced into rehab? Sadly, there is no simple answer; and it all depends on your state’s law.
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Can You Be Forced into Rehab in Your State?
Forcing someone into rehab is no simple task. It is not a choice anyone wants to make. However, there are concerned parents who have done it and others who are willing to do it. Sadly, this is usually due to the fact that few adolescents seek or enter drug treatment on their own. Because of this, many states have adopted laws in parents’ favor. These laws allow for a minor’s legal guardians to enter them into inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities without the consent of the minor. In this guide, we will go over the possibilities for both minors and young adults.
States that Allow Forced Drug Rehab for Minors
- Florida (in some cases)
- Georgia (in some cases)
- Kentucky (in some cases)
- Mississippi (in some cases)
- New York
- North Carolina (in some cases)
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- Virginia (in some cases)
- Washington (in some cases)
Each of the states listed has laws regarding a parent’s ability to make decisions regarding rehab on behalf of their teen or young adult. However, in some states, certain legal hurdles one must jump through or laws where parents can only force inpatient treatment but not outpatient. Another fact to consider is the age of the minor. In states that consider the consent of a minor, that minor must be of a certain age. In some states, the minor must be 12 or older, while in others, the minor may need to be under 16.
Can Young Adults & Adults Be Forced into Rehab By Their Parents?
Although minors only occasionally have some control over going to rehab, it is a different story for young adults. Anyone over 18 cannot be forced into rehab for substance abuse treatment by their parents or legal guardians. As an adult, one is given autonomy over their body and actions. But, it is worth noting that a person over 18 can be subject to involuntary commitment for other reasons. In most states, an adult can be involuntarily committed for mental health issues – if they present a danger to themselves or others. Typically, these are cases where individuals are suicidal, have made serious threats, or already caused some form of harm to themselves or others. Although these cases can have some legal hurdles, it is possible to commit a person involuntarily. Once committed, that person may receive treatment for substance use disorder if they need it.
However, this is not a common occurrence. Most often, young adults enroll in rehab facilities because of pressure from the criminal justice system, not their parents or by their choosing. Representatives of the criminal justice system, such as judges or social workers, will often encourage and pressure individuals with substance use disorder to seek treatment, often at rehab facilities. Sometimes treatment will be mandated through court or as a condition of release, probation, or parole. Mandated rehabilitation is one of the main reasons why most young adults seek rehabilitation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, outcomes for those who enter rehab because of legal pressure are just as good or sometimes better than those who enter rehab without legal pressure.
What to Expect if You’re Committed or Forced Into Rehab
Whether one is mandated to treatment by the legal system or chooses to go on their own, treatment at a rehabilitation facility offers several benefits. While in rehab, one becomes sober and learns how to stay sober in the future. Recovery begins with the individual becoming sober through a process called detoxification or “detox.”
During this time, the individual resides in a comfortable space where their body essentially rids itself of the abused substance or substances. The body takes time to adjust to those cravings. During this time, individuals may experience cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.
However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, young adults and teenagers are less likely than adults to experience withdrawal symptoms – largely because their addiction has not been as prolonged.
Once sober, the patient begins a treatment program curriculum of classes, groups, and therapies. These programs have various approaches and methods, but most treatment centers take the individual into account and tailor their treatment to their needs and preferences.
Having more than one option for treatment gives patients options for their recovery, including what type of therapy they wish to engage in. Fortunately, several kinds of therapy are available at most treatment centers, including one-on-one, groups, or even more creative therapies like music therapy and meditation.
The goal of these forms of therapy is for one to discover the emotional root of their addictive behavior. Once they acknowledge this, they can begin to practice coping mechanisms to protect against triggers and shape their future, healthier behavior.
How to Make the Most of Rehab
Despite the effectiveness of inpatient rehabilitation and even pressure from the legal system, proper recovery requires the individual’s motivation. Forcing someone into therapy or forcing someone into rehab can still be beneficial, though. Sometimes a person needs someone else to force them into recovery. Recovery is a difficult process, and it can make it easier to have someone else take that first step for you. On occasion, those initially resistant to treatment found that it was the best thing for them, and they thank the person or people who forced them into it. However, this type of situation only happens when the individual in recovery ends up deciding to pursue recovery.
Like it or not, the real benefits of rehab and recovery occur when a person wants to be in rehab or therapy. While overriding someone’s autonomy to get them in the door can be helpful, the individual must exercise their autonomy in choosing to pursue sobriety during their time in treatment. In general, change is most likely to occur when a person believes that they have the power to make it happen. Without that belief and control, a stay in rehab may be less effective than one wants or anticipates. One must commit to recovery to make the most out of it. Once this happens, everything else will be easier.
Getting Help Before You’re Forced Into Rehab
Can you be forced into rehab? If you are a minor in some states like California, yes, you can. These states that allow forced rehab often do it hoping for the best, wanting those with substance use disorder to recover. However, sometimes it takes the criminal justice system to force one to enter rehab or a treatment program. For young adults, this is typically what happens. However, it does not have to be this way. One can enter or pursue treatment for themselves. Doing so will often lead to a better outcome and lasting recovery.
If you take responsibility for your recovery, you can be another recovery success story. Your family and friends will be proud of you, but most importantly, you will be proud of yourself.
If you are curious about rehab or treatment for substance use disorder, give us a call. Our addiction specialists will be happy to discuss rehab and treatment with you, explaining all of the options available. Addiction may be difficult to overcome, but sobriety is possible. Call us at (888) 906-0952