Can You Force Someone Into Rehab Against Their Will?

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For a loved one
The Hader Clinic
The Hader Clinic
May 29, 2023
minute read

Addiction and substance abuse is a complex issue affecting millions of people worldwide, and unfortunately, many of those who suffer from addiction are resistant to seeking help. This can be incredibly frustrating for close family and friends, who may feel helpless in the face of their loved one's addiction. In some cases, they may wonder if it is possible to force their loved one into rehab, even if they are unwilling to go. 

In this blog, the professionals at The Hader Clinic will explore the legal and ethical considerations around this question and discuss the various options available to those struggling with addiction.

What is Involuntary Commitment?

Involuntary rehab commitment is a legal process in which an individual is mandated to receive treatment for substance abuse or addiction, even if they do not consent to it. This typically involves a court order or other legal intervention that requires the individual to attend a treatment program or enter a rehabilitation facility.

In order for someone to be involuntarily committed to rehab, certain legal criteria must be met. This includes:

  • The individual must pose a danger to themselves or others due to addiction. 
  • The individual is incapable of making sound decisions about their own health or safety.

In some cases, the individual may undergo an emergency substance abuse evaluation by a medical professional or addiction specialist to determine if they meet the criteria for involuntary commitment. In other cases, a family member or other concerned party may petition the court to order the individual into rehab.

Is it Ethical to Force a Person to Go to Rehab?

The ethical considerations around involuntary rehab commitment are complex and depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Involuntary commitment should be used as a last-ditch effort to get someone to change their lives, especially if they pose a danger to themselves or those around them. 

On the other hand, involuntary treatment can be a fraught issue that raises concerns about individual autonomy, dignity, and consent. Forcing someone into rehab against their will can be seen as a violation of their fundamental rights and may even undermine the trust necessary for a successful therapeutic relationship.

Therefore, the Victorian Government states that compulsory treatment or involuntary commitment should only be used when all other options have been exhausted. Additionally, it is crucial to respect the individual's dignity and autonomy throughout the process and to prioritise their well-being and recovery at all times.

Can a Doctor Force You to Go to Rehab?

In general, a doctor cannot force you to go to rehab for drug or alcohol addiction without your consent. As a patient, you have the right to make your own decisions about your healthcare, including whether or not to seek addiction treatment. However, if you meet the legal requirements of the involuntary commitment laws, they may use this route to control your substance use disorder. 

Can Your Parents Force You to Go to Rehab?

If you are still a minor (under 18 years old) and your parents have legal custody or guardianship over you, they may be able to compel you to undergo treatment for addiction or drug abuse. In some cases, this may involve going to court and obtaining a legal order to mandate your attendance at a rehab program. However, suppose you are over the age of 18. In this case, you have complete autonomy over whether you attend addiction and drug rehab programs - unless the involuntary treatment act is called into question. 

Can a Rehab Facility Force You to Stay?

A rehab facility cannot force you to stay against your will if you are a voluntary patient. As a patient, you have the right to leave the facility at any time. However, it is recommended that you complete the full course of substance abuse treatment to achieve the best outcomes for your recovery.

However, there are certain situations in which a rehab facility may be able to hold you against your will, even if you are a voluntary patient. This includes:

  • You are a danger to yourself as a result of your addiction.
  • You have inflicted physical harm on yourself or others. 
  • You have been court-ordered to attend rehab as a condition of probation or other legal sanction. 

Seeking Professional Help

As a reputable rehab centre in Melbourne, The Hader Clinic offers various drug treatment and substance abuse programs. Our professionals aim to help individuals get the help they need while encouraging them to seek treatment on their own terms. 

Some reasons individuals seek voluntary treatment at The Hader Clinic include:

  • Personalised and compassionate care tailored to your needs and circumstances.
  • A welcoming and non-judgmental environment. 
  • Treatments suited for specific addictions and mental health issues. 
  • Collaborative treatment plans run by highly-trained professionals. 

By providing a safe, supportive, and compassionate environment, The Hader Clinic can help individuals overcome their fears and reservations about seeking treatment, and can empower them to take control of their lives and achieve lasting recovery.

Treatment Programs 

The Hader Clinic offers various treatment programs to facilitate long-term recovery from addiction. This includes:

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