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Can You Force Someone Into Treatment? 

Can You Force Someone Into Treatment? 
Written by Seth Fletcher on March 30, 2021
Last update: April 24, 2024

The pain of watching a loved one struggle with substance abuse or addiction can leave anyone frustrated and drained of all energy. Eventually, a breaking point is reached and the question is asked, “Can my loved one be forcefully admitted into rehabilitation”?

The short answer is no. The longer and more detailed answer is, it depends.

Mental Health Act

The laws governing addiction treatment fall under the mandate of the various provinces’ Mental Health Acts (all are very similar but address each regions’ specific requirements). 

The Ontario Mental Health Act identifies two ways that someone may be held involuntarily. In both instances, only a physician can make decide if the patient in question meets either criteria:

  1. The person is a danger to themselves or others
  2. The person’s condition is deteriorating so that they require hospitalization

A Danger to Themselves or Others

If the addicted person has shown cause that they are a potential and real danger to themselves or others through their actions, such as threatening to commit suicide or threatening assault on someone else, they may be hospitalized.

Deteriorating Condition

Even if someone suffering from drug or alcohol abuse isn’t showing immediate danger to themselves or other, if a physician evaluates them and decides that they are showing a deteriorate in their condition - that is the addiction is severely and negatively affecting their health, relationships, or career - they may be hospitalized for 72 hours without consent.

Under the Age of Majority

While there are treatment options for minors, forced rehab is not a route available for desperate family members. The Mental Health Act also applies to children under the age of 18 years of age. 

Options Available

Currently, the best way of getting someone help, is to convince them that treatment is the better option because what they’ve been doing isn’t working. That takes some convincing for the addicted person. That is where speaking to a professional interventionist can help family and friends manage the emotional situation that comes with dealing with addiction, but can also help steer the addicted person to accepting treatment. 

While forced rehab may seem like the only option, success tends to be higher and more long-term when the addicted person is willing to accept treatment rather than have it thrust on them.

There are a number of intervention methods available and working with an accredited intervention specialist, the most suitable method (or a mix of methods) can be used to get the addict immediate help. For more info, take a look at our guide on how to do an intervention.

If you know someone suffering from substance abuse, call us for support at 1-855-499-9446 or email us at [email protected]

Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

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