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Can You Force Someone into Alcoholism Treatment?

Find out if you can force someone into alcoholism treatment in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


People sometimes would like to know if they can force someone into treatment for alcohol. Well, the answer is generally no. You can't really force someone into treatment. The only way you can force someone is through some coercion. And coercion meaning, if you're a loved one you can certainly threaten to, if you're married, you can threaten to divorce the person or separate from the person. You can threaten the person around their family, that they can't be around their children. So again, that's not forcing them, but it is coercing them.

Forcing someone, the only way you can force them is if there is a legal issue. So there's programs when people get stopped for driving under the influence. The court often mandates people into treatment, that they have to go to treatment or else they'll go to jail. Again, that's not really forcing them, that's a legal coercion. The only way that you can mandate, really mandate someone that they have to go into treatment by force where police can take them to treatment is if they threaten to harm themselves or someone else. That's the only way you can take someone into treatment against their will.

So, generally treatment for addiction is a voluntary treatment. Again there's ways of coercing people, and research shows that people who are coerced actually do as well as people who aren't coerced into treatment. But you can't really force someone other than if they're an imminent threat.

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