A controversial issue in healthcare is the question of involuntary hospitalization.
If an individual’s family has confronted him or her repeatedly about the damage that addiction and a struggle with bipolar disorder is causing, and loved ones have joined together to stage an intervention to let him know how bad things really are, and he still refuses to seek recovery help, family has the legal option of having the individually involuntarily committed.
Involuntary Drug Treatment
Thirty-eight states in the US allow drug treatment to be performed involuntarily without the drug user having committed any crime other than substance abuse. Length of treatment and requirements for such measures differ from state to state.
Involuntary hospitalization differs from criminal arrest in that the individual is allowed enough contact with the outside world to alert family members to what has happened. He or she is also permitted a hearing to determine if such treatment is really necessary. Involuntary commitment usually requires that the addict be proven unable to take care of him or herself or to pose a danger to him or herself or to society.
Involuntary hospitalization has the best chance of succeeding if the individuals in question are admitted young, follow the program established for them and follow up with treatment after their release. If the individual has not acknowledged the seriousness of addiction, his or her family may be doing the best thing they can by having him or her involuntarily committed.
Involuntary Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Since addiction and mental illness often go hand in hand, involuntary hospitalization for one may shed light on solving the other. Many of the symptoms of heavy substance addiction and manic bipolar disorder are similar, such as unpredictability and rage.
The more severe the bipolar disorder, the more necessary involuntary hospitalization may be, particularly if the disorder makes the individual prone to fits of mania that endanger himself and others. These can border on criminal behavior, while the purpose of involuntary commitment is to get help for the individual before he reaches that point.
Though involuntary hospitalization is a possibility, it should be the final option of the individual’s loved ones after they have tried every other way to get the addict to accept treatment voluntarily.
A court may throw out an attempt at involuntary commitment if it deems that other methods could have been tried before the addict’s family and friends resorted to this course of action.
If the individual himself fears that his community may put him in treatment against his wishes, he may prepare what is called an advance directive for mental health decision-making, which would give him some legal say in how his illness is handled.
While it is important to protect the patient’s rights, his loved ones must be discreet in how they go about securing treatment for him if he is so desperate not to get the treatment he needs that he will resist their efforts.
How to Decide If Involuntary Treatment Is Necessary
Even if your loved one obviously needs treatment and refuses to seek it on his or her own, making the decision to have him or her committed to medical care can be hard. That is why our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day at 844-496-9429. Call with any questions or concerns you have. We are here to help you see your loved one break free from addiction. Please call us today.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton