In many cases, the compassionate support of loved ones can help a person choose treatment. Unfortunately, in other cases, someone caught in alcohol addiction may refuse offers of help. Some situations may even involve someone who is no longer able to make a rational choice for themselves. When this occurs, 36 states provide a legal way for families to commit to a loved one to inpatient alcohol rehab.
Wondering how to commit someone to alcohol rehab if they are over 18? While parents may be able to make rehab treatment decisions for minors, once a person turns 18, only official entities can order commitment to an alcohol rehab treatment program. There are two common ways of achieving involuntary commitment orders.
The first is for the family to petition the court to issue an emergency order for alcohol rehab treatment for an individual. While the requirements for making such a determination vary from state to state, some general qualifications tend to apply.
The court — and experts the court calls to provide opinions, such as psychiatrists, mental health professionals, and substance abuse counselors — will be looking for a few factors.
- First, the court will question whether the person to be committed has demonstrated a lack of control over their actions. If the individual is deemed unable to make their own decisions or control their actions in a reasonable manner, the court may step in to decide on their behalf.
- Second, the court is typically going to look for daily (or highly regular) alcohol use. Someone who drinks to excess a few times a year isn’t likely to qualify for an emergency commitment, even if those drinking episodes result in negative consequences.
- Third, the court may review evidence of any physical or mental health problems caused by the alcohol abuse. If someone is a functional alcoholic — meaning they drink regularly and have withdrawal symptoms if they don’t, but they can function reasonably in their job and social situations with an immediate detriment to mental or physical health — they may not qualify for an emergency order for alcohol rehab treatment.
- Fourth, the courts will hear evidence of the individual threatening the health and safety of themselves or others; this may be enough for an order to be issued.
A second common way for someone to be committed to alcohol rehab involuntarily by the court is to face criminal legal charges associated with alcohol abuse. Judges may order rehab instead of (or in addition to) other forms of punishment.
Seeking an involuntary commitment for alcohol rehab for a loved one can be a draining and long process, but it may be the only way you know they’ll seek treatment. Before you take this step, always talk to someone within the professional community about other options that haven’t been tried. You can call our caring admissions counselors for more information at any time.