Court-ordered rehab, also known as involuntary treatment, is often an emergency or last-resort option for relatives or friends concerned about a loved one’s drug or alcohol abuse.
Involuntary treatment is typically sought for adults over the age of 18 who have either refused to seek treatment or want to avoid receiving jail or prison time for a non-violent crime related to their drug use. Available options for seeking court-ordered rehab for a loved one vary from state to state and may require that a person meets certain qualifications.
In Ohio, a Senate bill known as Casey’s Law – passed in 2012 – allows loved ones the opportunity to petition for involuntary drug or alcohol treatment for someone if they believe the person poses a danger to themselves, family, or others due to their substance abuse. This mirrors a 2004 law passed in Kentucky under the same name.
Securing court-ordered rehab for a loved one can be a challenging process as well as a confusing one. If you’re interested in pursuing a legal route to get a loved one into treatment, it’s important to understand the requirements, the pros, and cons of this option, and other considerations.
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The Process Of Getting Court-Ordered Rehab
There are two primary ways to go about getting court-ordered treatment for a loved one in Ohio. If your loved one is facing charges for a crime committed as a direct or indirect result of substance use, you may be able to file for mandatory court-ordered treatment in lieu of jail or prison time.
If your loved one is not facing criminal charges but poses a danger to themselves or others due to their substance abuse, you may be able to seek emergency involuntary treatment. The process for securing court-ordered rehab, therefore, can differ depending on the type of court-mandated treatment most appropriate for your situation and what is available in your state.
Court-Ordered Rehab Ruling For Criminal Charges
When someone who struggles with drug or alcohol abuse commits a crime, court-ordered (mandated) rehab can sometimes be available as an alternative ruling to prosecution or incarceration.
Drug and alcohol abuse can significantly impair a person’s judgment, increase recklessness, and have other behavioral effects that increase the risk of engaging in criminal activities. Many judges in drug and criminal courts recognize this and are in favor of mandating addiction rehab in lieu of jail or prison time for people who meet eligibility criteria.
A person’s eligibility for court-ordered rehab may vary based on requirements mandated by your local court. In Ohio, requirements may vary by county.
Common eligibility requirements for court-ordered rehab include:
- drug or alcohol addiction diagnosis
- the charge is identified as:
- nothing more serious than a third-degree felony
- believed to have occurred as a direct or indirect result of the person’s substance abuse
- willingness to participate in treatment
- is capable of participating in and completing a treatment program
- no history of violent or sexual crime
The length of treatment required for those receiving court-ordered rehab is typically 12 to 24 months, though this may vary depending on your location. The level of care, treatment location, and intensiveness of the rehab program recommended by the court may also vary.
Emergency Court-Ordered Rehab
Another avenue for getting involuntary, court-ordered rehab for a loved one involves filing a petition with the District Court. This petition form can be obtained online or in-person through the court. If you are working with an attorney to secure court-ordered rehab for a loved one, they may also be able to assist with this process.
Under Casey’s Law in Ohio, a petition can be made for court-ordered rehab if your loved one:
- poses a threat to their self, family members, or others as a result of their drug or alcohol abuse
- is believed by the court to be capable of benefiting from involuntary treatment
Once the court has received your petition, they will evaluate whether there is probable cause to require treatment for your loved one. If probable cause is found, a hearing will be scheduled within 14 days. During this time, your loved one will be appointed an attorney and evaluated by two qualified health professionals to assess the necessity for treatment.
Court-ordered treatment from a judge may then be ordered for anywhere between 60 to 360 days, depending on your loved one’s situation. The type of treatment ordered (i.e. detoxification, intensive inpatient) can also vary based on the court’s assessment of your loved one’s needs.
Effectiveness Of Court-Ordered Rehab
One of the most difficult questions a person can grapple within this situation is whether or not seeking a court-ordered rehab is an effective option for a loved one struggling with addiction.
According to studies that look at the effectiveness of involuntary treatment, while getting a person into treatment can certainly be a promising first step, the level of motivation a person has to recover can also be important.
If your loved one has not shown motivation for overcoming their substance abuse, this may seem discouraging. However, this does not mean that they will not discover motivation for recovery in time. In many cases, it can be within the supportive space of a drug and alcohol rehab program that a person gains the mental clarity to consider and embrace motivation for recovery.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who are under legal pressure to enter treatment also:
- have higher rates of attendance
- often stay in treatment longer
- have an equal or better chance of achieving successful treatment outcomes compared to those who enter treatment voluntarily
Are There Drawbacks To Court-Ordered Rehabilitation?
Court-ordered rehab is typically not the first course of action a person takes to get someone they care about into drug or alcohol treatment. For many, the decision to secure involuntary treatment for their loved one comes out of necessity. However, while this can be an effective option for many people in need of treatment, it is also worthwhile to consider the potential drawbacks of going through the court.
Potential drawbacks of court-ordered rehab include:
- Effects on relationship: Seeking involuntary treatment for a loved one can often cause duress within relationships, and your loved one may initially feel hurt by your decision to pursue this option. In time, however, your loved one may learn to understand your decision and agree that it was important for their treatment and recovery.
- Court and rehab expenses: Under Casey’s Law, those who petition for involuntary treatment for a loved one are responsible for covering both court costs and the cost of treatment. Without financial assistance, this can quickly become expensive. Some courts in Ohio allow the use of insurance to cover partial or full treatment costs. Treatment vouchers and reduced filing costs may also be available.
- Length of the process: Getting court-ordered rehab can often take time. Even if you begin an emergency involuntary treatment process, it will still be some weeks before your loved one will begin some form of treatment.
- Consequences of Incomplete Treatment: If your loved one has been ordered to attend addiction rehab due to drug-related crime, failing to complete court-mandated treatment may result in severe legal consequences. This includes facing full prosecution for their crime, potential fines, and jail or prison time.
Ultimately, deciding whether to seek court-ordered rehab requires careful consideration of the pros and cons, with the best interests of your loved one and those surrounding them in mind.
Finding The Right Treatment For Your Loved One
Deciding to petition for court-ordered rehab for a loved one can be one of the greatest challenges a person can face – but it can also be one of the most rewarding. By getting your loved one into treatment, you are providing them with the opportunity to heal and overcome their addiction for a more hopeful future in recovery.
Although court-ordered rehab does not guarantee successful results, choosing the right treatment program can increase the likelihood of your loved one’s recovery. At The Bluffs facility in Ohio, our treatment specialists offer a non-judgmental, compassionate approach for all patients – regardless of how they came to be in our care.
If you’re interested in having your loved one attend court-ordered rehab at The Bluffs, our admissions specialists can help coordinate this with you and your court system. To learn more about this process and The Bluffs’ drug and alcohol treatment programs, contact one of our dedicated treatment specialists today.
- Casey’s Law — Casey’s Law OH: Steps Towards Help and Hope
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service — The Effectiveness of Coerced Treatment for Drug-Abusing Offenders
- Stark County Government of Ohio — CHANCE Program