Laws About Involuntary Commitment for Substance Abuse Vary Widely Among States

Laws regarding involuntary commitment for substance abuse vary widely among states, according to a study presented at the American Psychiatric Association meeting this week.

Medscape Medical News reports that the study found 38 states allow some form of involuntary substance abuse treatment that is separate from any kind of criminal issues. Debra A. Pinals, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Law and Psychiatry Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, said that the length of time in which a person can be involuntarily forced into treatment varies widely among states. Criteria for involuntary commitment vary as well. While some states require dangerousness to self or grave disability, others require a combination of criteria, Dr. Pinals said.

The study found that less than 10% of patients with substance use disorders seek treatment. Most who seek treatment do so because of external, coercive influences, she said.

Dr. Pinals found that police pickup, emergency hospitalization and civil commitment were the three forms of involuntary treatment most used by the states with legal statutes regarding involuntary commitment for substance abuse. All but four states (Alabama, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Virginia) allow police pickup or emergency hospitalization, while 38 states allow outpatient or inpatient civil commitment.

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    March 20, 2017 at 1:16 PM

    Does Illinois have a law where I can admit my son to rehab he is so bad I’m so scared I’m going to lose him please help me

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    Pat – Psychotherapist & Partnership Parent Coach

    November 7, 2016 at 9:30 AM

    Hi Deborah,
    I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been for you and your 20-year-old to be the target of your son’s aggression. I hope your son gets the help he so desperately needs. It may help you to go to a support group if you haven’t already joined. The National Alliance on Mental Illness or may be helpful to you as well.

    Wishing you the best,

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    Deborah Abichaker

    November 3, 2016 at 6:32 AM

    I have a 23 year old son who has asperger’s/autism, he has adhd, and a problem with alcohol and marijuana. I think he has tried something else too, He has learning disabilities. He doesn’t make good sound health decisions. I’m am so surprised at this point of his life that he hasn’t got in trouble and arrested or hasn’t got beating up by someone and is dead.
    He has no respect for me. When I try to talk to him every other word is “f” this. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells or he’ll blow up. He can’t control his anger. I got a restraining order out on him, but the judge didn’t grant it on behalf of me. Thank God I had my 20 year old because he threatens his sister, takes things/steals from her room and she doesn’t get it back. He almost punched her in the face. If she didn’t move that’s what would have happened, but he indented her wall. He has been in some altercations in which he has sustained black and blue eyes, bloody lips needing stitches. He needs to be involuntary committed, but he has more rights than us the victims of his behavior.
    I and my 20 year old love him, but we can’t deal with his behavior. That’s why I got the restraining order. Now some of my family members look at me like I’m mentally ill.

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    Glenda harmob

    February 20, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    I think something needs to be done about the ease with you can get pain pills you can go to a doctor and get a prescription 180month my daughter then takes 90 of them in 3-4 days then she hits with straws and she runs the hospital and gets a shot of morphine and she gets her pills refilled and then she takes him on 3-4 days and she’s back to another hospital for shot of morphine the hospital to keep telling her not to come back there yet they keep giving her the medicine when she does she keeps losing Pain doctors baguette you’ll find another one was your not some database with a can find out how many pills you’re getting how often how many times you’ve been kicked out of the doctors practice because of this and how many times you’re going from hospital to hospital I can’t help her my state won’t commit her because she’s not done anything wrong she has the right to overdose if she wants to which i think is stupid I live in Texas

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    June 13, 2015 at 6:22 PM

    I too wish WA had a Casey’s law. Smoking is not comparable to an opiate heroine coca ine addiction. I am losing my home and my children and I will be homeless soon due to spouses addiction to opiates..but he has his “rights”. The right to hide his paycheck..the right to cause chaos..the right to not spend time with children as he seeks his fix..the right not to pay for their basic needs..the right to make us homeless..the right to steal my checks and crefit cards and anything as it is a community property state..child support is a joke as he will be required to pay less in support than he does on cigarettes drugs and liquor. My local police department refused to go to his work when he left with my checkbook and he wrote several checks for cash leaving me no money for groceries..soneone had to cone bring us food..ive had to go to the food bank..I do not make enough to support us and my mortgage is less than the going rent. I spend many days looking for a second job..and being a parent 100 percent of the time. Family support is s joke..don’t share your drama. It’s been a living nightmare. But his civil rights are saved.

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