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Can You Force Someone To Go To Rehab in Massachusetts?

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Can You Force Someone To Go To Rehab in Massachusetts
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There are few things more painful in life than watching someone you care deeply about struggle endlessly with drug or alcohol addiction. Not only is addiction deadly, but it can also impact the lives of everyone close to the sufferer. Families and friends often go to extraordinary lengths to convince their loved ones to get help, sometimes to no avail. This leads many families to wonder whether or not they can force someone to go to rehab in Massachusetts.

There are many reasons why you may want to force someone into a rehab program. Maybe your brother keeps overdosing and you feel like you are one phone call away from a funeral. Or, maybe you are watching your mother slowly drink herself into late-stage liver failure. Whatever the case may be, involuntary commitment laws can be a major beacon of hope for families of addicted loved ones. And, the best news is that you can force your loved one to go to rehab in Massachusetts – if they qualify under Section 35.

Section 35: Civil Commitments in Massachusetts

Nearly 40 U.S. states have some type of involuntary commitment law that enables certain individuals to force someone to obtain mental or behavioral health treatment. Fortunately, Massachusetts is one of them.

Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 123, Section 35, a qualified individual may request a court order that requires someone to be civilly committed to a facility and treated involuntarily for alcohol or drug abuse. Those who qualify as a qualified individual who can petition the court include:

  • Police officers
  • Physicians
  • Spouses
  • Blood relatives
  • Court officials
  • Legal guardians

If you qualify as one of these individuals in relation to the person you are worried about, you are able to file a written petition or affidavit with your local District or Juvenile Court to get the process started.

How Do You Force Someone To Go To Rehab in Massachusetts?

After filing the petition, the court will review the facts and evidence set forth to decide whether or not they have grounds to issue a summons or warrant of apprehension. If reasonable evidence is provided, the court agrees that the individual is unlikely to seek treatment voluntarily, and if there is proof that a delay in treatment will present imminent harm to the person or someone else, the court will issue a warrant of apprehension for the individual.

Depending on the circumstances, your loved one will either be ordered by the court to appear before a judge or apprehended by police officers to be taken into custody for a hearing. The individual being sent to treatment will have the right to an attorney and will be mandated to a psychological evaluation by a qualified physician, psychologist, or social worker.

After the evaluation, the court will hear testimony, argument, and evidence from the exam to determine whether or not the individual meets the criteria for involuntary commitment to rehab in Massachusetts.

During the hearing, the judge is looking for evidence of two things:

  • An apparent drug or alcohol use disorder
  • Imminent risk of self-harm or harming others

If both of these criteria are met, the judge will order the individual to attend a treatment program only when and if there are no less restrictive treatment alternatives available. However, if one or both criteria are not met, the individual will be released.

how involuntary commitment works in massachusetts

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Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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How Involuntary Commitment Works in Massachusetts

If the judge grants the petition to force your loved one to go to rehab in Massachusetts, your loved one will be taken to a holding area where they will await transportation by the sheriff’s department to a local treatment facility.

Once your loved one is admitted to a Massachusetts rehab facility, he or she will undergo a comprehensive evaluation to determine the treatment needs. Your loved one will go through a medically supervised detox before transitioning to an inpatient rehab program.

The goal of involuntary commitment is to hold your loved one in treatment for as long as possible. However, Massachusetts law mandates that no individual can be involuntarily committed to a rehab center for more than 90 days. 90 days is the maximum treatment time for involuntary commitment and is dependent on the patient’s individual needs.

If your loved one still needs more treatment after 90 days and is willing to stay in the facility’s care, his or her treatment program may be extended.

Does Forced Rehab Actually Work?

Recovery is a life-long process for many people, and no 30, 60, or 90-day stay at a rehab facility can cure your loved one’s addiction. Also, treatment is usually most effective when a person is willing and motivated to get and stay sober. However, getting your loved one’s foot in the door and introduced to the recovery process is a vital first step. And, it just may be the push they need to find a glimmer of hope and want to try recovery themselves.

If you’ve already tried intervention and are at your wit’s end, it may be in your best interest to try and force your loved one into a Massachusetts drug and alcohol rehab center.

Get Help Now

Find Addiction Help For Yourself or a Loved One

There are many solutions to addiction, but it all starts with the willingness to ask for help. But, when all options have been exhausted and when resources are running low, involuntary commitment is a great place to turn.

Whether you’re looking for a rehab center for yourself or would like more information on the involuntary commitment process in Massachusetts, give us a call. The beginning of your new life is only a phone call away.

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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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