Just about anyone you talk to has a family member or knows someone who has an addiction problem.
Often, people who are in the throes of their addiction do not want to stop. Family members and loved ones may want to force them into treatment. The question as to whether this is ethical is debatable.
According to a report by Medscape Medical News, less than ten percent of people with substance abuse issues seek treatment. Among those that do, it is often because of outside measures. In 1975, the Supreme Court ruled that involuntary hospitalization violates the individual’s civil liberties. Due to the rise in drug and alcohol addiction cases, most states in the U.S. now have laws that allow for involuntary commitment for substance abuse. For instance, in Florida, the Marchman Act was passed, which allows a parent, spouse, or relative to commit an individual into a drug treatment facility.
Is it ethical to make someone to do something or be somewhere that they do not want to be? As a human being, we have the right to live our lives the way we choose. On the other hand, how ethical is it to watch someone you love continually harm themselves and possibly others by acting out in their addiction?
Some people who are coerced into treatment by the court system do get clean and change their lives. Others are not ready and may continue in their addiction for a long time no matter what loved ones do to help.
Here are some aspects to consider before trying to commit your loved one to a drug treatment facility against their will:
- Does your loved one admit that they have a problem? This is the first step. If they do not see their addiction as a problem in their life, there may not be much that you can do if they are not ready to seek help.
- Have you tried talking with him/her? Having an open, honest conversation will help you to see exactly where they are in regards to how they feel about their behavior and using drugs or alcohol.
- Family intervention. Getting the family together and having an intervention can be helpful. This allows your loved one to see that there are people who care and who will support them every step of the way.
- Aftercare. If your loved one does commit to treatment, you have to understand that addiction does not go away in thirty days. Moral and emotional support and an aftercare plan are important for maintaining sobriety.
The bottom line is that you probably could force your loved one into treatment, but if they are not ready it may be a waste of time and effort. It is best to use one of the above tactics first. A person in the grips of addiction cannot see their behavior and how it affects those around them. Until they get sick and tired of being sick and tired, there may not be much that you can do.