“You can’t force me to go to rehab!”
Every day, people are confronted by family members and well-meaning friends who are desperately worried about their drug or alcohol use. If you’re wondering, “Can I be forced to go to rehab?,” the answer is “yes, in certain circumstances.” Here is one example: If a person’s drug use has reached a level where law enforcement is involved—maybe they’ve been selling drugs or operating meth labs—that person could be mandated by a judge to enter a residential rehab program or face time in a county jail or state prison.
If you’re feeling angry and defensive about the prospect of being forced into rehab, that’s understandable. Nobody wants to be forced into anything against their will. Still, it never hurts to try to understand where the other party may be coming from. It may be helpful to take a moment to think about why your family and friends are pleading with you to go to rehab. Then ask yourself the following questions and answer them truthfully:
- How many times a day/week do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs?
- Do you find yourself thinking about drinking or using drugs most of the time? Do you anticipate the next time you can drink or get high?
- Are you flunking out of college because you are too busy getting high or drunk?
- Have you lost at least one job due to missing work or being chronically late because of drugs and/or alcohol?
- Has a friend or relative confronted you about drinking or taking drugs?
- Have you ever suffered blackouts after drinking heavily? Blackouts are periods of total amnesia where you can’t remember what happened before, during, and after a drinking binge.
- When you crave drugs or alcohol and can’t satisfy this craving, do you experience nausea, headache, body aches, chills, and joint pain?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is possible that your family and friends are trying to persuade you to go to rehab out of concern for your health and well-being. Now the big question: what can happen if you resist their request?
Can You Make Someone Go to Rehab Against Their Will?
The Florida state legislature enacted a law providing several options for involuntary admissions associated with drug addiction or alcoholism. The “Marchman Act”, as it’s called, describes two avenues that family members or law enforcement can take for people with substance abuse issues: emergency admission or protective custody. Someone with an addiction may be held in a treatment program for as long as 90 days, depending on the assessments of addiction specialists overseeing the program.
To be involuntarily committed, family members or law enforcement must prove to a judge that the individual is truly addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. In addition, evidence must be presented that clearly shows their loved one is a threat to others or themselves if not forced into rehab and civilly detained. Someone with long-term addiction, who is homeless and visibly unwell due to lack of food and shelter but doesn’t present a threat to themselves or others, may also be forced into rehab.
The Baker Act
Florida has another involuntary commitment law called the Florida Baker Act. This act addresses mentally ill individuals who are suicidal or violent. It allows law enforcement, judges, psychologists, and doctors to legally commit an individual to a mental health treatment facility for no more than 72 hours. At the end of the 72 hours, the individual may either be released following an evaluation or held for further observation.
A person with a drug or alcohol addiction can be deemed seriously mentally ill and involuntarily committed according to the criteria of the Baker’s Act. For example, if a family member knows that another family member began using methamphetamine just a few weeks ago, but that family member is exhibiting signs of a severe mental illness, they could “Baker Act” that family member.
If you have a serious drug or alcohol problem and think the Baker Act or Marchman Act violates your constitutional rights, you may want to think twice. Attorneys have already litigated these acts in court, claiming their clients have no due process protections under either act. They lost. Florida statutes regarding involuntary commitment for individuals with severe addiction or mental illness do not violate your constitutional rights.
Minors Can Be Forced to Go to Rehab in Florida
Teens are also subject to involuntary commitment laws. Florida allows parents to place a teen in a residential addiction center if the teen cannot stop using drugs, has threatened to harm others or threatened self-harm, and is so severely impaired by drugs or alcohol that they are incapable of making rational decisions. Once the teen is admitted into a residential rehab program, only qualified professionals can determine if the teen is well enough to be released from the residential facility.
Thinking About Going Cold Turkey?
“What about if I promise my family that I’ll stop using drugs? I’m not addicted so I can quit anytime. They don’t understand I’m just a recreational user.”
So goes a common line of thought—but just how possible is it to go cold turkey and never touch drugs and/or alcohol again on one’s own? Addiction happens in the brain: Chemical imbalances cause the brain to start craving the feeling of being high. The more you drink or take drugs, the more your brain gets used to that “high” or sense of gratification. When you take that feeling away from the brain, it makes you suffer from severe flu-like symptoms, frightening heart palpitations, shakiness, depression, and anxiety. That’s how an addicted brain basically forces you to start using drugs again.
Recovering from a substance abuse disorder starts the minute you decide to enter a residential rehab center. What makes some people panic at the thought of starting rehab is not knowing what to expect when they can no longer rely on drugs to get high and escape reality.
What to Know About Detoxification
The safest way to clear the system of drugs or alcohol is via a medical detox. Supervised by doctors and nurses, medical detox takes place in a hospital-like setting where you are given medications to relieve withdrawal symptoms. Your vitals are regularly monitored while you receive counseling and other therapeutic supports to help you learn how to cope without drugs or alcohol.
This is the first phase of recovery. It is typically followed by time spent in a residential inpatient center exploring the roots of an addiction. There are physical and/or psychological reasons why people start using drugs and these reasons must be explored and resolved through therapy and counseling.
Choosing Where You Want to Go for Residential Rehab
If family members or friends are considering using the Marchman Act or the Baker Act to get you into rehab, consider what’s in your best interests. Responding with threats and aggression will only serve to strengthen their case (that you should be forced into rehab against your will). Research has also shown that treatment outcomes tend to be poorer for people who are forced to go to rehab.
One way you to ensure that your family doesn’t force you into rehab? Do rehab on your own terms. If you voluntarily enter a rehab center, you’ll be able to choose which programs you want to attend, what type of counseling would benefit you the most, and—possibly shorten your stay at a residential rehab facility.
Still unsure about rehab centers because you think they don’t “work” and can’t help you? You can learn more about how rehab can treat substance abuse here.
Only one person should be responsible for your health and happiness. That person is you. To learn about your treatment options, contact FHE Health today.