This is a minefield of opinion. But, yes, you can force someone into treatment. Whether they stay in treatment or remain clean and sober is another thing.


People are forced into treatment by the criminal and family court system all the time. There are special drug courts and outpatient programs that monitor clients over 18 months or so. There is also the 28 day stay at an inpatient if the courts so require.

There are also probation and parole requirements that must be met that can include half-way houses (or sober living environments) and monitored treatment compliance.

You have all seen tv programs like Intervention where families gather together to confront loved ones and offer them treatment or ultimatums. If all goes well the loved one enters inpatient rehab.

Employers will have EAP programs through medical insurance and require people to go through the programs or be terminated.

Many people enter treatment without the intention of participating, but to appease whoever is holding the purse strings or calling the shots on their level of comfort.

People may funnel into treatment through hospitals and institutions due to an acute health crisis that requires intense treatment in a controlled environment to stabilize.

Others will go to treatment seasonally to get away from the cold and damp of the streets.


Families can also be in denial about a loved one’s substance use or abuse. When confronted the natural defense is to deny everything. The family essentially turns the other way and pretends that there is no real problem or the loved one is ‘not that bad.’

This may hold for a period of time, but chances are that fate will intervene and the person will be forced into treatment.


A lot of people with substance abuse issues also have a mental health diagnosis, and vice versa.

Treating all conditions and symptoms concurrently leads to better outcomes. Integrated treatment programs are becoming common especially in community health settings.


There are people who get into legal trouble just one time in their lives and turn it around. They are not keen to go to rehab, but they will comply with the courts and never do it again.

Others enter treatment with no intention of participating or staying clean. Once they go through detox and begin to feel better they become willing to do the work and make their lives better.

Inpatient rehab is typically 28 days, this is four short weeks to turn years, if not decades of substance use and associated biological, psychological and social damage around. Real recovery takes a lot longer than 28 days, but anything is a start.


Forcing someone into treatment could save their life. My opinion is to try your hardest to get your loved one into treatment. Being exposed to recovery and how it works can only be a positive thing.

Once in treatment people often discover that they do want to get clean and sober and build a better life. It is worth the effort.

People can straight up refuse to comply with any court order, intervention or offer of treatment. That is free will. The negative consequences will start to roll. People can fight consequences for a long, long time. Some end up in treatment, some never do.

Read about the ways addiction will kill you.

Is your life unmanageable? How many ways?

Need to identify and rid yourself of toxic people?

How to rid yourself of negative self-talk.

You absolutely need to be setting goals.

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Drop me a line in the comments below or by email if you have suggestions or questions.

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