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Understanding the involuntary commitment of drug users to rehab

Virginia allows for the involuntary commitment of a person to drug abuse rehab centers. Like most states, Virginia has laws that establish criteria for whether an individual can be involuntarily committed for either mental health treatment or drug rehabilitation. There are fewer legal restrictions for placing minors into involuntary rehab programs if they are deemed a danger to themselves because of their drug abuse. For adults, the court is more stringent about whether a person can be committed to involuntary care so as not to violate their liberties.

Stricter regulations for adults

In Virginia, a court must verify some (if not all) of the following conditions before an adult can be involuntarily committed to a drug rehab facility:

  • The person poses a substantial risk to themselves or others.
  • The person has already inflicted harm on themselves or others.
  • The person is unable to care for their own basic needs.

Deciding what’s best for your loved one

For a hearing in an involuntary commitment case, that person has the right to an attorney. A family member’s decision to place a relative in involuntary care is a choice that usually comes from a place of love and concern for the addicted person. Despite its intention, involuntary commitment has many contentious issues associated with it, as well as the possibility of abuse. Here are three significant criticisms of this law:

  1. The law infringes on an individual’s rights to choose for themselves.
  2. The chance of overdose may be higher upon release.
  3. The skills taught in short-term rehabilitation facilities may not translate to long-term recovery.

Treating drug abuse fairly

When a person is charged with a drug crime, the possibility of involuntary commitment is usually off the table. In most states, an involuntarily committed person typically maintains an inpatient status for about two weeks before being released to outpatient treatment. The courts require compelling reasons for involuntary commitment, so as not to violate a person’s rights to due process. If you are seeking involuntary treatment for a loved one, you’ll need a well-rounded attorney with experience in drug laws and drug abuse treatment.  

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