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Does Forcing Someone To Go To Rehab Really Work?

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does forcing someone to go to rehab really work

Everyone has their own unique journey toward recovery, and not everyone begins this journey voluntarily. In many cases, friends and family become so concerned about their loved one’s substance abuse that they take extreme measures to force them to go to rehab. While many states, including Massachusetts, have involuntary commitment laws for situations like these, many people wonder whether or not forced rehab really works.

Confronting a loved one about addiction or alcoholism isn’t easy. Your loved one may react negatively, and you may have to face an array of difficult emotions. As a result, you want to make sure your efforts are worth your time and dedication. Even though it is a common misconception that people cannot get sober unless they truly want to, it is possible for people to achieve a full recovery after being forced into drug and alcohol rehab.

When Should You Consider Forcing Someone to Go to Rehab?

You may be hesitant to pursue the idea of involuntary commitment. However, there are certain circumstances during which trying to force someone to go to rehab in Massachusetts is a great idea.

Your Loved One is a Danger to Themselves or Others

Addiction often drives individuals to a point where they are considered a danger to themselves or others. They may black out before driving, overdose on a regular basis, or engage in self-harming behaviors. In other circumstances, addicted parents may be neglecting or abusing their children. In Massachusetts, danger is one of the standards for involuntary commitment, so if your loved one is risking danger towards themselves or others, they are a good candidate for involuntary commitment.

Forced addiction treatment can open the eyes of these individuals as to how their actions are dangerous. Addiction is a sneaky disease that puts its victims into a state of denial. People may not realize how bad their addiction is or how dangerous their behaviors have become. And, even if they are reluctant in the beginning, forcing them to get help can be the push they need to want to get sober.

Forced Rehab Can Help Avoid Detrimental Consequences

Many people believe that addicts must hit rock bottom before they are able to accept help. The truth is not everyone has to reach a state of utter despair before they seek help for a substance abuse problem. Even though losing a job due to addiction to losing custody of one’s children can be enough to convince a person to get sober, it isn’t necessary for a person to face these repercussions before getting help.

Committing your loved one to rehab involuntarily can help them avoid serious consequences in the future.

You Have Reached Your Last Resort

Involuntary commitment is usually used as a last-ditch option. Before trying this method, it is ideal that you try a personal conversation and a staged intervention. It is always best to send a person to rehab upon their request. However, a loved one who refuses to go to rehab may face devastating and long-term consequences if they don’t get help.

If you have reached your last resort in helping your addicted loved one, forcing them to go to addiction treatment may be the next step.

Forced Rehab

The Pros and Cons of Forced Rehab

As with any difficult decision, there are pros and cons to involuntary commitment. The biggest downfall is that forcing someone to go to rehab may make them resentful towards you. If a person is stuck in a phase of denial, he or she may be unable to see that your actions came from a place of love. Additionally, researchers believe that addiction treatment is more effective when patients are motivated and ready to get sober.[1] Still, that doesn’t mean forced rehab is ineffective.

Forcing someone to go to rehab can save their life. Without quick intervention and treatment, people who are of danger to themselves or others could face permanent and life-threatening consequences if professional help isn’t obtained. For example, someone could overdose or get into a fatal car wreck, completely destroying their chances of ever getting sober in the future. Forced treatment can stand in the way of life-changing repercussions.

Does Involuntary Commitment to Rehab Really Work?

When you ask the question, “Does forcing someone to go to rehab actually work,” the answers you receive will depend on who you ask and how they define success. A successful treatment stay could mean a person stayed sober in the long term, but it could also mean a person learned harm-reduction skills that made their substance use habits safer. Whatever the case may be, involuntary commitment cannot hurt – it can only help.

At the very least, forced rehab introduces patients to recovery resources, 12-Step programs, and addiction education that they will never forget. Even if a patient relapses, as many do, they know where to turn once they are ready to return to rehab once again.

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Get The Care You Need and Deserve

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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Find Addiction Help For a Loved One

Recovery is a life-long journey that is not always linear. Between 40-60% of people will relapse after treatment, whether rehab was forced upon them or not.[2] The bottom line is forcing someone to go to rehab really can work – especially if the person’s family and friends are unconditionally supporting them. Whether you’re looking for an addiction treatment center in Massachusetts for a loved one or want to learn more about the rehab process, we’re here to help. Call us today to get started.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
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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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