The question that parents of young adults with drug or alcohol addiction face every day is; can they force their child to receive treatment for their addiction against their will? We find stories of unfortunate incidents of suicide or drug overdose-related deaths involving young adults, who checked out of rehabilitation or treatment centers many times without completing treatment because the law stops the centers or hospitals from holding anybody against their consent. Realizing the fateful consequences, many states including New York, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Florida, have amended their laws to allow involuntary commitment of someone who uses drugs or alcohol or both by a family member or a caregiver. However, the bar for ascertaining the need for involuntarily committing someone to treatment is high. First, the person’s addiction to drugs or alcohol needs to be validated; secondly, there must also be evidence of a threat, attempt or infliction of physical harm to the person himself or any other individual or if this danger exists with certainty in future. People have mixed feelings about this relaxation in involuntary commitment laws. They are seen as a violation of civil liberties, with a potential to be abused by family members or unethical treatment centers. Many believe that involuntary commitment is far less efficient as compared to when drug-users seek help out of their own will. This perception is supported by evidence determining that the more opioid users died of drug overdose after release from forced rehabilitation or treatments commitment as compared to those who went voluntarily. The critics also say that families or caregivers (wrongfully) trust the effectiveness of involuntary commitment, while the truth is that people somehow may access drugs in treatment centers as well and they have a higher risk of relapse after release from unwilling confinement.

Harm reduction supporters consider that a person using drug is competent enough to get involved in their treatment decisions.  Family members, even without the involuntary commitment option, can help by understanding and be educating themselves about addiction with the help of behavioral therapy groups, harm reduction organizations, and professional recovery centers.

It is a common thinking that drugs are the source of turmoil in a person’s life, so, if drug use is controlled, other issues will fix automatically. But often these outside matters including socio-economic conditions, relationship issues, no sense of purpose, etc., are the main pushing factors towards drugs and alcohol addiction in the first instance and if not addressed promptly these factors may push back the person the second time even after the treatment. Thus along with treatment of drug-use, factors contributing in adopting drug or alcohol addiction need to be tackled as well.

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