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Can I Force My Spouse into Treatment?

Living with a person with a substance use disorder is difficult. Their erratic behavior can compromise the mental, emotional, and financial well-being of the family unit your hold so dear. If you are in this situation, you know the high cost of living with an addict.

But, many addicts are high-functioning ones, which means they can maintain their job and their responsibilities most of the time and this can feed into denial that the problem isn’t that bad. When it does get bad and the denial wears away, you know your spouse needs help. He or she needs professional treatment.

But, what can you do if you suggest treatment and they refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem? You need to make choices that protect you and your family. To that end, you may be considering having your spouse involuntarily committed to an addiction rehabilitation center.

That is certainly an option and one that is legal in certain situations. But, there are a few more avenues you should explore before committing to this severe approach, as it can create quite a problem in your relationship.

To help you with getting your spouse into treatment, you need the assistance of experts. Trust SubstanceAbuse.org to answer your questions, link you to resources, and direct you to reputable treatment that will meet your needs. Call 800-487-1890 (Who Answers?) to speak to someone today.

Involuntary Detox: State Law

Spouse into Treatment

Refusing to help your spouse deal with the consequences of their addiction could convince them to seek treatment.

If your spouse was still under 18 and you were their parent, it would be no problem to get them into treatment. But, it would make for a very confusing marriage.

In a lot of ways, it might feel like your spouse is still a teen. Drug use impairs brain function and can arrest development. So, a using spouse may act like an adolescent and you may feel like their parent much of the time.

Sadly, as you are both adults, your options are limited. In general, the lengthiest involuntary commitment is 72 hours because long-term involuntary commitment was determined to be a violation of civil liberties.

However, there are a few steps that actually have laws that allow friends and/or relatives to place a loved one in drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation. On such law is nicknamed Casey’s Law.

In place in Kentucky and Ohio., Casey’s law is a way to intercede with a person who will not acknowledge their need for drug and alcohol treatment. Through a process that involves the court determining probably cause and evaluations by two medical professionals, one must be a doctor, you can get a legal mandate for rehab attendance.


Honestly, seeking involuntary commitment should be a last resort when your loved one is a danger. Instead, try approaching them in a way that is firm, but less severe.


  • Leaving recovery literature around the house, so they can read it at their leisure
  • Suggesting you take him or her to a 12 step group
  • A carefully prepared intervention that uses a professional intervention specialist.
  • Declining to shield your spouse from the consequences of their substance use
  • The assistance of an addiction specialist, who will help move your spouse let go of denial
  • Talking to your spouse when you know they will be more receptive, usually during a time when they are looking at their substance use as a negative behavior

Forced Recovery in Prison: How to Stay Clean After Release

Does It Work?

But, if you press for involuntary commitment, will it work? That is what matters, right? You are probably willing to risk your relationship with your spouse to give them the chance to recover from their addiction. Or, are you?

If you are, the National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts treatment can be effective, even if involuntary. Court, family, and employer directed rehab has increased “treatment entry, retention rates, and the ultimate success of drug treatment interventions.”

If you feel like you have tried everything, you may want to commit your spouse to treatment. But, a better approach might be researching treatment programs and finding ones that really fit into your family dynamic. SubstanceAbuse.org can help you with that. When you present a treatment option to your spouse, they may be more receptive if you already have options to present them. Call 800-487-1890 (Who Answers?) to get started.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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