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5 Reasons Why You Can’t Force Someone to Enter Rehab

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Legal ramifications and program costs are some of the five reasons why you cannot force someone to enter rehab. Addiction is a powerful ailment that destroys lives and causes people to feel powerless in the fight to reclaim their loved ones. In many cases, forcing addicts into treatment programs becomes a final solution for many families. Aggressive as the approach sounds, the concept of involuntary treatment raises many negative issues.


A February 2013 article in Psychology Today describes addiction as the search for emotion satisfaction through external means. Societal changes created a new breed of addictions that rise above pill popping or heavy drinking. According to recent studies, the following five vices are among the most commonly reported addictions in the world:

  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Gambling
  • Prescription drugs
  • Recreational drugs

Physicians throughout the United States report seeing a rise in food addictions as American lawmakers work to combat obesity.

Why you can't force someone to rehab

Reasons Why You Can’t Force Someone to Enter Rehab


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) lists two types of drug rehab programs. Physicians customize each treatment plan based on patient history and progress within the facility. Patients who confront the underlying causes for their addiction stand the best chance at maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Medicinal aspects of rehab treatment minimize the debilitating effects of withdrawal. Medicine also restores normal brain activity, making patients more receptive to behavioral therapies and reducing the potential for cravings. Research data found that medicinal therapies are an ineffective approach to rehab without additional therapeutic components.

Behavioral therapy forces patients to evaluate the causes behind their addiction while exploring informative subjects like ecstasy dangers. Counselors encourage patients to make better decisions while working on skills that aide in a healthier lifestyle outside the treatment program. Depending on the level and type of addiction, patients attend individual and / or group sessions as outpatients or residential clients.


Most programs report that 10 to 20 percent of all rehab patients maintain a healthy lifestyle after completing their initial treatment program. Many physicians feel that addiction is a lifelong process, and effective management involves making the right decisions when temptation comes along. NIH experts found that people involuntarily committed to rehab programs via the judicial system experienced similar successes as those who freely enrolled for treatment.

Issues with Forced Rehab

In 2012, the concept of forced rehab became a hot topic of debate. Ohio lawmakers permitted families to forcibly enroll addicts in treatment programs, while Time Magazine delved into issues experienced by families of addicts across the nation. In both cases, experts cite a host of issues created with involuntary treatment.

  • The process infringes on civil liberties violations.Auburn University describes civil liberties as the right to express oneself and behave freely within a private domain. In other words, forcing people to enter rehab because they do drugs takes away their right to free behavior. Loved ones do not want to make a bad situation worse by entering a court battle with addicts who wish to prove they are functioning members of society.
  • Someone has to foot the bill.When Ohio addicts enter rehab, the state judicial system requires an 8,000 United States dollar (USD) deposit from the addict’s family. The deposit is in addition to any costs associated with the desired treatment program. Options range from simple outpatient facilities to luxury residential compounds, costing between 16,000 and 90,000 USD per month. Most health insurance plans cover some form of rehab treatment, but patients may have to pay for their therapy. Anyone who forces treatment upon an addict essentially becomes responsible for the bill, so deep pockets are an important requirement.
  • Original intent backfires.Forcing people into addictions treatment makes them sit up and take notice of their problems, but it also has a residual effect. Addicts perceive the action as a personal attack instead of a helpful intervention. In the past, society saw addicts as lacking in moral character. Cleveland.Com stated that many people still view addiction as a choice of the weak and want to hold people accountable for their bad decisions. Legal experts feel that forced treatment allows people to sweep the issue under the rug and ignore the underlying causes of addiction.
  • Force changes the role of rehab.Rehab is a new beginning, not a solemn end. Forced participation in rehab has the same effect as physically punishing children. Participants learn that force produces results and silences those who are less powerful. Treatment is about regaining control, so the concept of losing free will appears rather contradictory. In a society where involuntary rehab becomes the norm, treatment becomes a final solution rather than the first step.
  • Some people require multiple stints in treatment.Sometimes the path to healthier living requires multiple stints in rehab. People who forcibly place loved ones in treatment might have to do it again for maximum effectiveness. While such dedication could result in success for an addict, it also could result in weakened family ties and exhausted financial resources.

Current Laws

Involuntary treatment is still in the works for addicts, but safeguards are in place for people who pose a threat to society. Individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or others receive immediate transfer to mental hospitals and asylums. Judges and psychologists must approve involuntary mental commitments. In 2011, members of the American Psychiatric Association learned that 38 states have laws that facilitate temporary, involuntary detainment of known addicts.

Public Opinion

Surveys conducted by a charitable organization based in the United Kingdom known as Drug Scope shed interesting light on public opinion about forced treatment. 77 percent of respondents saw the need for government spending on rehab programs. An overwhelming 88 percent felt the programs need to be accessible ONLY for those ready to address their issues. A general feeling of ineffectiveness accompanies discussions of forced rehab.

The concept of rehab remains a highly debated topic as an increasing number of designer facilities emerge on the horizon. Dealing with addiction can be an agonizing process, but most experts feel that forced treatment is not an effective solution. By entering rehab voluntarily, patients experience less social stigma and see programs for their intended purpose.

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