Can You Make Someone Go to Rehab?

Addiction treatment can have a life-affirming impact on people who have been struggling with addictions to alcohol and other drugs. But what happens if someone you care about refuses to get the help they need? Can you make someone go to rehab? 

Can You Make Someone Go to Rehab?

The question, “Can you make someone go to rehab?” isn’t as straightforward as it may originally seem. 

In one sense, it’s a simple legal question. But when viewed from a different perspective, it can refer to one person’s ability to convince someone else to do something they’re hesitant to try. 

To fully answer this question, it’s also important to consider if a person can actually benefit from rehab if they were forced to get professional care.

Can You Make Someone Go to Rehab in Massachusetts?

The laws about committing someone to drug rehab or any other form of treatment can vary from state to state. Since Lake Avenue Recovery is in Worcester, we’ll focus on if you can make someone go to rehab in Massachusetts.

The short answer is that yes, in some circumstances, you can force a person into rehab in Massachusetts. However, this process can be complicated.

Involuntary admission into addiction treatment in this state is covered by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 123, Section 35. Highlights of this legislation include the following:

  • Only a “qualified petitioner” (police officer, physician, spouse, blood relative, guardian, or court official) can ask the court to force someone into a rehab in Massachusetts.
  • The person who makes this request must file a written document or an affidavit with any district or juvenile court in the state.
  • After reviewing the information in the petition or affidavit, the court may schedule a hearing and issue a summons or a warrant.
  • During the hearing, the individual may have an attorney present, and may be examined by a doctor or psychiatrist.
  • To involuntarily commit a person, the judge who oversees this hearing must determine that they have a substance use disorder and that they are likely to cause serious harm to themself or others as a result of their disorder.

In Massachusetts, a person may be involuntarily committed to rehab for up to 90 days. If, after entering a program, the individual wishes to remain in treatment for longer than ordered, they can voluntarily extend their stay.

How Can You Convince Someone to Go to Rehab?

Though it is possible to use the court system to make someone go to rehab, this should be a last resort. Ideally, if a loved one is hesitant to enter a treatment program, you can help convince them that this is the best approach. 

Here are some tips for how to accomplish this:

  • Educate yourself about addiction, treatment, and recovery. This can help you develop a better understanding of what your loved one is going through. It can also provide you with important information on the various treatment options that are available to your loved one, so you can help them find the place that’s best for them.
  • Talk to your loved one. This should be a conversation, not a lecture or an argument. Express your concern about your loved one’s health and share information that you’ve gathered about treatment. Prepare for pushback or even anger, so you’re ready to prevent the discussion from descending into an argument. No matter how your loved one reacts, their response can give you valuable insights into their state of mind. Be sure to listen to what they have to say.
  • Understand that it may take several conversations before your loved one agrees to get help. Keep the lines of communication open. If your loved one responds in an unfavorable manner to your initial suggestion about treatment, plan to revisit the topic at a later time. This doesn’t mean you should nag or badger them; it’s simply a reminder that this may not be a simple process. Don’t let one setback cause you to abandon hope.
  • Offer tangible assistance, and follow through on these promises. Is your loved one concerned about who will take care of their children when they go to rehab? If so, help find a solution to this problem. Do they need transportation to and from treatment? Give them a ride or find someone else who can. Your willingness to help eliminate these types of logistical obstacles can make a world of difference in your loved one’s life.

Can a Person Be Successful if They Were Forced to Go to Rehab?

Even if they know that you can make someone go to rehab, some people may argue that you shouldn’t make this effort. They may believe that a person can’t benefit from treatment until they’ve “hit rock bottom” and then made the decision to get help. 

This is simply not true. People can and do have successful treatment experiences after having to be persuaded to get help. What is most important is that your loved one eventually realizes that they have developed an addiction and need professional assistance. 

When someone is in the depths of active addiction, they are not in control of their thoughts and actions. It often takes the compassionate efforts of friends and/or family members to convince someone that they are in the midst of a crisis that they can’t escape on their own. 

Once someone in this situation agrees to enter a rehab program, their prior hesitance does not mean that they won’t be able to achieve successful, long-term recovery.

Find Drug Rehab in Massachusetts Today

If you are seeking customized treatment for someone in your life who has become dependent on alcohol or another drug, Lake Avenue Recovery is here to help. 

Our addiction treatment center in Worcester, Massachusetts, offers personalized care and comprehensive support at the partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient levels, with both day and evening options available. 

With the help of our dedicated caregivers, your loved one can develop the skills that will empower them to live a much healthier and more hopeful life, free from the constraints of compulsive substance abuse. 

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.