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Many times, people call who are worried about their loved ones’ legal situation, and whether or not they can go to treatment. The answer is yes, and nothing is more confusing than lawyers, uneducated in the field of addiction, telling families’ that their loved ones can’t leave for treatment out of state.
In all our years doing interventions and sending people to treatment centers across the country, never once has a judge or a prosecutor taken action against people bettering themselves and getting medical attention for a potentially fatal problem. In treatment centers, they are accounted for and the court is aware of their progress during the treatment. Lawyers always say they have to be in court because they don’t want to have to do any more work, and they want to make sure they get paid. Your loved one is 10 times more likely to get into more trouble and violate probation from a new arrest or positive drug test from drinking or drugging than for entering a treatment program to get well.
Drugs, Courts and Legally Mandated Addiction Treatment
If left to the courts to decide, the treatment center choice would be a local outpatient, 21 or 28 day facility, state-funded, and ineffective. In these places, your loved one is going to meet other people who are not serious about getting better and learn from them where to get better drugs and how to beat the system. In our years working in this field, we have never once seen anyone who waited for a court date get better while continuing to get drunk or high instead of going to a treatment center. In fact, they’ve all ended up in jail. We are not advising anyone to disrespect a judge or prosecutor; we are, however, advising you that your loved one is far better off in treatment than waiting for a court date while continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol. The worst thing that might happen—but never has with us—is your loved one could get a violation from the probation officer for leaving the state. In our experience, a judge and prosecutor would overturn that violation, a far less serious charge than a positive drug test or a new arrest.
Is Addiction Intervention Legal?
Many people think that interventions are about taking people to treatment against their will, with force, or by the police. Intervention is absolutely legal, and we don’t take people anywhere against their will; in fact, we don’t even coerce or give ultimatums. An interventionist gives addicts a choice to get help or to do things totally on their own. The last thing you ever want is to have someone forced into treatment or committed by force. The number one problem with addicts and alcoholics is resentment towards others while refusing to take ownership of their own problems. Taking people against their will merely creates more hostility and resentment within them and pushes them away instead of bringing them closer. Having someone committed should only be considered after all options have been exhausted during the intervention and the person is going to be a danger to self or to others. With intervention, we only take people to treatment once we have obtained their willingness to go, and this willingness will only come from the family coming together as a team to stop the insanity of the addiction.