How do you commit someone to drug treatment against their will?

There is nothing like watching someone you truly care for make unhealthy, self-destructive choices. Dealing with a friend or family member who is suffering from a drug addiction can be especially challenging if they do not want to seek the help you know they desperately need. It’s even more painful to realize that as long as they do not want to change, they won’t. Doing drugs is a choice. Getting help is a choice. So, the key to helping someone with their addiction is to support them in making healthy choices.

To encourage someone to make the right decision and to get help or go into a rehab facility, try an intervention. Sit down with them and let them know how worried you are. Make every effort to tell them you care and show how you’ll be supportive throughout the whole process. Let them know that you’ll be there as little or as much as they want you to be.

In very severe cases, when the addict displays suicidal symptoms or is causing harm to others, forced hospitalization is possible. However, it is more likely that the individual will be treated for the psychological and mental health issues, not the drug addiction.

Knowing that a person’s behaviors will not change until the individual wants to make those changes for their own self, do you think loved ones should be able to commit those suffering from addictions into a drug treatment program against their will?

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21 Responses to How do you commit someone to drug treatment against their will?

  1. I will be glad to call if i knew for sure you could help. my sister is a prescription drug addict, we have done everything possiable to marchman acting her rehab going before judges that give her chance after chance to get it together interventions you name it we have done it she has even lost her license and job still drives and now steals from her family to buy the drugs on the street . not to mention has overdosed 8 times and has been in 3 comas from it. if there is a way we can commit her to a rehab that she can’t check out of please!!!!!!!!! let me know, because the next call i get im afraid is going to be that she is dead!!!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I am also having the same problem with my nephew here in Mississippi. Anywhere that we have checked him in he is free to make the choice of leaving (which usually comes the next day when is is having DTs). If there is a place that you can check a person in, that they cannot check out of until they are clean I would really like to know where it is, we are past desperate. Sometimes I think he would be better off if he were in jail.

  3. claudia says:

    I, too, have been faced with the drug addiction of a child! Everyday, I look at him and see him fade away inch by inch…I have bailed him out of jail several times, even picked him up when he left rehab on his own will…I have enabled him for too long. Today, I came to the realization that I did not cause this, I cannot control it, and I definitely cannot cure it! But, because our government will not allow me, as a parent, help my child, force my child into rehab or any other program to get help, I searched for a loop hole and found it….I was fortunate enough that he has had one single failure to appear warrant….I did the most unbearing thing a mother could do….I handed him over to police! I had to, I had to try to save his life! My journey now will start with our Senate, trying to open this world up to the fact that Drug addiction is a disease and we, as parents, need to have the rights to put our children somewhere for help! I was desparate, but at the same time strong and if it kills me my son will overcome his battle.

  4. Andrea says:

    I was an addict for quite some time. My mother was ill with Cancer and my father lived miles away. My mother landed up disowning me in the middle of her Cancer treatment. This still hurts me to this day – that I could not be there for her in her time of need. She landed up sending me back to my father to begin my recovery process. I now try to council the families of addicts as I feel that there is nowhere near enough support for these families. They have so many questions that they want answers to that they are too afraid to ask their loved ones and, I personally feel, a GP cannot assist as efficiently as all they know comes out of a textbook. I assist by experience. What everyone here is saying is 100% true. You cannot help someone that has not made the decision to help themselves. Comas and near overdoses doesn’t even wake these people up to the reality that they are so blinded to. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that they cannot be forced into any kind of rehabilitation once they are over the age of 18 unless they are seen as being a threat to themselves or society. Even if this was possible, the process may prove pointless as forcing them into rehab does not convince them to make that pivotal choice to stop which IS the only way to get through this. To all that are hurting and battling with a loved one involved in all of this, I pray for you and your loved one(s) and wish you all I can to get through this. I know how hard it is and how much it hurts. Love them, care for them and pray for them. Most of all, stand firm and be strong!… All the best from someone who cares and understands…

  5. tonya says:

    I am struggling with my daughter,who is 18 and heroin addict .It hurts to see her making wrong decisions and wasting her life,by now she has 2 arrests, and due to complete drug education and community service.Her next court date in September 2009 and i am afraid,she might not be around by that time.After i found out that she was using drugs i had confronted her and,of course,she denied.After second time i found drugs and syringes ,she admitted that she “used it twice because everybody else was doing it and she will stop”.We sent her to college past fall ,paid for dorm and tuition ,and just recently discovered that she did not attend school at all.Her and her drug addicted boyfriend were living on campus and school never send me a letter to inform about her academic failure.She hates me for not willing to pay for next semester and do not want to come home.Of course,she does not want to start treatment.Every facility i called,wants her to be willing to start treatment. I cry every day and do not know what to do.

  6. Dylan says:

    You’re not alone – everyone who is dealing with a loved one who is addicted to drugs has the difficulty of watching someone you care about make poor choices. It’s agonizing watching them suffering, and it can often seem like nothing is working, even though you’re trying to do everything. Don’t give up.

    If you haven’t called Northbound yet, please do give us a call. Our professional staff are experts in getting help for young adults and can recommend a course of action for you that is based on your unique circumstances. Everyone is different and sometimes helping someone we love get into rehab needs to be tailored to address their specific challenges.

  7. jess says:

    i have the same problem, my sister is 20 and addicted to drugs, i was warned by a mutal friend that i should get her out of the crowd she is with, (which is easier said then done) as she was on drugs bad and taking every day. I have tried talking to her but nothing seems to work. i know at one point i was told she was even dealing wether this was true im not sure,

    my brother has now found out through a friend who use to hang with her group what they get up to, and as my brother is not street wise and is looking out for his baby sister wants to go and talk to the people she hangs with to get her out the situation im worried he will end up hurt or something.

    My sister stayed away for a month only seeing her friends and boyfriend once now and again as she told me she was trying to get off it, I have watched her moods change, weight loss is a joke size 16 to an 8, pale skin. shakes she cant stop going to the toilet (every 5mins) has a wear a pad 24/7 this is my baby sister and is very hard to watch as i just saw my best mate go through the same untill he was in hospital fighting for his life he now is off the drink and drugs and been clean for 3months after being on it 6years so there is hope!

    i guess what i want to ask is to Andrea as you no how a drug addict feels is it worth talking to my sister about going into reham now as she is finaly telling me she is trying to get off it (just hoping its not lies) and has just split with her boyfriend or will me advising it push her back into it?
    Well done to andrea for recovering and now helping people who are going through the same problems!

  8. Maria says:

    My 21 year old daughter is addicted to pain meds. I know she crushes them up and snorts them. All I do is yell at her because I catch her lying and stealing from us and she won’t admit she uses when it is so obvious. I paid $15000 for rapid detox a year ago (had to charge it to the credit card) because she wanted help but went right back to her boyfriend and friends and drugs. I am so angry with her because I pay this credit card bill every month and she is still using. All I want her to do is admit it and get help. I feel so helpless and have reached the point where I wish she would get arrested so she will go to jail and know that she isn’t harming herself. I am going crazy and I’m desperate. If anyone can please tell me what to do please do. I can’t do this much longer. She has been using drugs since she was 16. I am angry with these pain management doctors because all they are is legalized drug dealers and the drug manufacturers won’t do anything to make the drugs worthless if they are crushed because they are making a fortune off the lives of our children.

  9. Dylan says:

    Hi Jess – I’m glad to hear your friend is staying clean, it’s a great accomplishment! What I do know about how a drug addict feels is that we are all still humans – and each of us is different. What works for one drug addict may not work for another. Don’t assume anything. Your sister will appreciate it if you just tell her that you’re going to be really open and honest about your feelings – but also be ready to let your sister be open and honest about her feelings, too. Let your sis know that you aren’t going to judge her, but that you love her and you just don’t want her to die. Be supportive and let her know that you will be there for her while she’s in rehab.

    But also realize that not all rehab facilities are the same. Rehab isn’t a magical place that can solve everything. She needs to be in a treatment program that will help her get into recovery and live her life. If you have more specific questions, don’t forget that you can call us to find out more about how we help people change their lives for the better.

    Maria – It really is impossible for you to “fix” your daughter or make her want to get clean. She has to want that change for herself. But, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. Family support is crucial to recovery and your child cannot get through this without your help. If you haven’t already, please call us at 1-888-730-0905. We want to help you get through this and help in any way that we can.

  10. Dylan says:

    Thank you for contacting us Sylvia. Please give us a call 888-730-0905. We want to help.

  11. Jeff says:

    Claudia you are a monster!! How could you do that to your son?!

  12. jpq says:

    good for you claudia
    jail is better then the alternative a pine box
    and sometimes they even get counseling
    god bless you all

  13. kim says:

    this is for jeff….how dare you call that woman claudia a monster???? she did the best thing for her son..i would have done the same thing and to be honest i would of piled some fake chares on him too,just to keep him in there longer!!!!! at least she knows where he is at nite!!! im a recovering heroin addict..10 yrs i used and im clean for 5 now…my mom did the same thing to me…you do what you otta do to save your childs lie!!jeff, you must not have any kids and you must be an addict yourself to say something like that…grow up,hopefully youll never have to be in that situation!!!…claudia,you did the right thing for your boy..keep doing it!!!!

  14. anonymous says:


  15. merry h says:

    I am desperate to find out how to intervene with my brother’s addiction and help him save his life. He is a meth addict, and tries to make his own with horrendous results recently. He is in a very bad way and dangerous to himself, physically he has burns from a chemical expolosion while making meth. Burns on his hand and leg require medical care that he won’t go get, he was diagnosed last year and hospitalized with MRSA, and also has heptitis C now. He is a life time drug addict, starting as a teen, he always went for the hardest of drugs, mescaline, LSD, angeldust, cocaine, homeade crank, and now the worst drug I have ever seen, meth. Currently homeless, everyone has had it with his drug abuse and won’t allow him to stay in their home, me included, he won’t stop trying to make the stuff, no matter what you say to him if he is left alone any period of time he will try. No respect for your home or family, plus the danger, and he cannot be trusted around items of value, he will steal from anyone to supply his habit. Yet his attitude is like he thinks we all owe him time in our homes, he is angry because no one wants him around, keeps saying ‘I am homeless, and sick and so and so won’t even let me spend one night’, well we are all concerned about theft, disease, and the danger of him cooking meth in our homes. But I know he is close to killing himself, or dying of infection, overdose, man, pick something and it is possible! Can he be involuntarily commited for his own good? We cannot help him but I do think that he can benefit from this.

  16. Willow says:

    My name is willow and I am 34 years old. My brother is 29 years old is married with three great kids. He has had some problems with prescription medications he started taking for back pain. He now is involved in other drugs. His wife kicked him out recently because he lied to her about going somewhere and he really went to go get more drugs and she caught him in a lie. I do not blame her at all, I would do the same thing. My brother has been like this for a couple of years stealing lying and who knows what else or even what all he has tried. My question is how do we (My mom, my siblings and his wife.) go about getting him help and into a treatment center if he is not willing to go. We are all planing to talk to him and try to get him to go on his own but what if he doesn’t want to? And a reply to anonymous those thugs who offer drugs will get what they deserve if they haven’t already.

  17. desperate says:

    You know JEFF …… YOU ARE DUMB. Sorry if anyone on here supports him but Claudia you did the right thing. My mother and I just did the same thing to my sister on Friday. I also called CPS on her to have her kids taken away until she complies with the stipulations of our agreement that she attends a drug rehab facility. I fell terrible seeing her in cuffs and black and white stripes. But I feel better about that then I do seeing her or her children being lowered in the ground. I have struggled with trying to get her clean for 3 years and this is the only option that I see. I don’t know what is right when it comes to this addiction, but I do know this…. She admits she wants help when she is coming down. When she is high she has NEVER used drugs and we are the crazy ones. She isn’t just a typical addict she is the kind who goes into a psychosis. She is dillusional and lacks any real concept of reality. I wish these drugs didn’t exist, but they do. Now we can only do what WE can do and that is take care of the kids and try to get her help. If she chooses to not take the help it is her choice and ONLY her choice. It’s sad but the truth. Addiction is a hard thing to over come and she needs a foundation to build the rest of her life on. Would you build a house without a foundation? I know I wouldn’t…………. I wish there was some way that we as families could have help to get these addicts into a facility that will help them! It’s sad how they can’t get help when it is needed most.
    God Bless you all and your family members who are suffering from these terrible addictions.

  18. Geryy says:

    I need some advice. Its my brother. He is divorced now but… He has three beautiful children and they are all suffereing cause of the choices he made in his life. I took these kids in as my own. They are mine. I have kids as well and can afford to take care of them however, I am not their dad and I see the hurt in them. I am not a Dr. but I think he is Bi Polar and addicted to oxycontin or whatever he gets his Drs to prescribe him. He sleeps all day and stays up all night. He is 34 and he is a really good person but if this makes any sense …He is just an empty soul of what he used to be. He Misses every kids event etc. He just doenst care. He has a new girlfriend and hshe takes priority over everone. She is very nice and not the issue. I am sure you know the game. I dont need to explain. I told him I am here to help and would do anything to help him. I have everyhting set up for him but he just blames everything on his ex wife. Everyone is to blame but him. I understand divorces are ugly but he talks suicide constantly and I am so consumed with his well being I dont sleep, worry alll the time and am causing stress on my own family. Everyone has given up on him and I wont. I tried therapy but they just were more concerned about my insurance and it was so upsetting that she had a timer in her office that she set when I walked in and it was like I was just a number. I am just asking for some input on where I should look? what can I do? I am hopeless and afraid. I am a concerned brother who has all but given up.

  19. Gabbie says:

    I am 20 years old and my mom is an alcoholic. I believe has also become addicted to prescribed medications. For the past year and a half her actions and decisions have tearing my family apart. When I’m not away at college I live at home with my Mom and my 16-year-old sister. I’ve done everything that I can think of to help my mom. She has lost her license, been arrested, been in a coma and almost died, and now child services are looking into our family because of my sister. But nothing is getting through to her. I don’t know what to do to make her see what her actions are doing because she won’t take responsibility for any of it.

    Right now as I write this even she is passed out in her bedroom and on days like this I just have to keep checking and make sure that she’s still breathing. I don’t feel comfortable living in my house with her. It’s making my life a living hell every day. But if I leave, then she will be here alone with no one to look after her. I want to leave and send her a message that I can’t be in her life when she’s like this. but I’m the only one left and I feel like if I leave and then something terrible happens it’s on my conscious because my being here could have stopped it. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

  20. Jennifer says:

    I am dealing with my 18 year old son and only child addicted to Xanax. He also has robbed and stolen from family and friends and is in the middle of court hearings one being a federal charge. I need to get him committed to a drug rehab before this get’s out of control and lose my son either to death or prison. It’s a shame we don’t have a system where a family member can not get their loved ones committed. He has already been to rehab once for 45 days and was sober until 30 days out. As someone said before the government needs to crack down on pain management doctors and just your general practitioners that prescribe these pills. It’s a shame you can walk into a doctors office and tell them you are having panic attacks and they don’t think twice about filling a prescription for Xanax or other drugs in that family. This needs to stop!

  21. Connie Wilbourn says:

    We are afraid our 18 year old grandaughter is useing meth and marjuanna (misspelled I know)
    what do we do can my daughter have her committed or does she have to go volentarally
    We need help dont know where to turn

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