As drug addiction increases, so is the enforcement of rehabilitation
According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, there are currently 37 states—including the District of Columbia—that allow family members and professionals to petition to have a person forced into rehabilitation/treatment. Typically, a person can only be forced into rehabilitation if they have been deemed as a danger to their own health and safety or the health and safety of others. However, in many instances it is becoming a norm for families, medical professionals and law enforcement officers to petition for a direct treatment for a person in a facility with an order from a judge.
Currently, many families and law enforcement officials are arguing for the continued involuntary enforcement of rehabilitation for individuals suffering from addictions. Individuals are seeing their loved ones suffer with addiction and not wanting treatment; it makes sense that the next step they would take is forcing the ones they love to get help. On the contrary, there are others who are arguing against forcing people into treatment. Though people may need help and may not want to seek it, it is not humane to force someone into a program or facility if they do not want to be there.
However, some studies have proven that forced treatment is not effective
In 2016, a meta-analysis of nine studies with the International Journal of Drug Policy concluded that there was no evidence that suggested any improved outcomes with people being forced into treatment. Additionally, a study that had been done by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health between 2011 and 2014 found that patients who received treatment involuntarily later died of an opioid-related overdose at more than twice the rate of those who received treatment voluntarily.
In accordance with these studies, it would seem as though compulsory treatment has proven to be more unsuccessful than successful. Indeed, there are unique stories in which have an individual who was forced into rehabilitation have made a tremendous recovery and had they not been forced into treatment, they don’t know where their lives would be now. However, the majority are proving that forcing someone into something they don’t want to do has not had good or long-lasting results.
What could be the problem with involuntary rehabilitation?
The first issue is that though people are being placed into these programs, the effects of it afterwards is not long-term. These involuntary rehabilitation programs last as little as a few days to several months, giving patients an extremely short amount of time to receive the help that they need. After this short period of time, individuals are placed back out into the world and, a lot the time, a full recovery has not been accomplished. With that, this leaves patients to relapse and go right back into their addictive ways. Additionally, many people who had been taken involuntarily into treatment programs have expressed that they weren’t ready to stop using, thus meaning that when the program was over, they would go right back to using—it’s impossible to get someone help who does not genuinely want to receive it.
Second, many people are incapable of affording the type of care that they genuinely need. Indeed, some treatment options may be court mandated or a petition can be signed to force people into treatment, however, what happens when the person or their loved ones are incapable of keeping up with the costs? Those these treatments may be forced, that doesn’t mean that they are free or affordable. A lot of patients are incapable of staying in the program because money runs out or insurance doesn’t cover it.
Though we all want our loved ones to be healthy and sober, forcing them into a treatment doesn’t seem like the most reasonable answer. Unfortunately, we have to be patient with people and stay supporting them until they have reached a point in their life in which they realize that they need able, are willing to accept the help and can complete the whole treatment with no worries of the costs and know that in the end they will have fully recovered and won’t have to worry about relapsing.