Can You Force Someone To Go To Rehab in New Jersey?

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According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 23 million U.S. adults struggle with substance use disorder.[1] Even though millions struggle with addiction each year, only 10% are thought to seek out the help they need. With so many people fighting addiction, even more families and friends are left concerned, worried, and wondering whether or not they can force someone to go to rehab in New Jersey.

In 2020 alone, 3,046 lives were lost due to drug overdose deaths in New Jersey.[2] And, as the opioid epidemic continues to harm families and communities alike, convincing someone to get the help they need is a life and death situation. Sadly, addiction is a disease shot through with denial. Many people don’t believe they have a problem with substances or that their problem isn’t bad enough to go to rehab. Some people don’t even realize when they have become a danger to themselves or to others. These are circumstances where families may want to force their loved ones to go to rehab.

The good news is New Jersey is one of many states in the U.S. that has involuntary commitment laws that allow loved ones to send their loved ones to rehab or to a mental health treatment center for evaluation.

How Does Involuntary Commitment Work in New Jersey?

Simply being concerned about a person’s substance abuse isn’t enough to commit them to a rehab center. Involuntary commitment is a formal legal process, so you must complete all steps correctly. First, you must have proof that your loved one has a problem with drugs and/or alcohol. This could be in the form of a referral from a mental health professional or past treatment records. In some cases, a simple statement or description of the person’s substance abuse will suffice.

In addition to being able to prove a substance abuse problem, you may also be asked for evidence that the person is of danger to themselves or others, or that they may create substantial risk or harm if they are not admitted to a treatment facility. In some cases, you may need to be able to prove that the person has become so incapacitated due to their drug/alcohol use that they are unable to make sound decisions or provide for their basic needs.[3]

Once you are prepared to present the necessary evidence, you can file a petition with the New Jersey court system. You will receive a hearing during which the person you are trying to force to rehab has the right to attorney representation. If the judge grants commitment, the individual must undergo a mental health evaluation within 48 hours of the hearing. After the evaluation, the judge may mandate outpatient, inpatient, or no treatment depending on the mental health specialist’s recommendations.

Who is Responsible for Paying for Court-Mandated Rehab in New Jersey?

In many states, the patient and their families are responsible for covering the costs of treatment and the legal process. However, in New Jersey, the state is required to bear 90% of the cost of involuntary treatment, so patients are only responsible for 10% of the costs. This can vary depending on the individual’s income, though, as the county adjuster’s office may determine an individual is able to afford the cost of their care. If the person has the financial means, he or she may be required to pay more than 10%.[3]

The portion of care you or your loved one is responsible for can likely be covered by insurance. If you choose an in-network rehab facility with your health plan, you may only be responsible for your copay or coinsurance.

Additionally, you are responsible for fees associated with filing the petition, holding the court hearing, and other related costs.

Does Forcing Someone To Go To Rehab Even Work?

One popular belief about addiction is that people have to reach rock bottom before they become willing to accept help. Another idea that stems from this is that people need to be motivated and willing if they want to get sober and stay sober. While there is little evidence regarding the efficacy of court-ordered rehab in New Jersey, few patients who go to rehab actually want to get sober. Most are simply tired of feeling the way they are feeling.

As long as you can get your loved one into the doors of a rehab center, they have taken the first step. A qualified team of addiction professionals can do the rest by helping your loved one realize the ways in which their addiction can get worse, the damage they have already done, and what intrinsic motivations they have that can help them want to stay sober.

In the end, forced rehab is better than no rehab at all. Even if it stops a person from using substances for a few weeks and introduces them to the recovery lifestyle, that is enough to make treatment worthwhile. Between 40-60% of people relapse after treatment – including those who go to rehab voluntarily.[4] So, if your loved one relapses after being forced to go to rehab, it doesn’t mean the treatment didn’t work or that you wasted your time. It is simply part of their journey.

Learn More About Court-Ordered Rehab in New Jersey

If you have already tried staging an intervention and confronting your loved one privately, filing a legal petition with the court for involuntary commitment in New Jersey may be the next appropriate step. At New Jersey Addiction Interventions, we know how scary legal proceedings can be – especially when your loved one’s well-being is in jeopardy. We’ll be there to help you and your loved one every step of the way. Call today to learn more.



Medically Reviewed: June 7, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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