Inside Addiction and Involuntary Commitment Acts

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Meeting Of Support Group

No one wants to see a loved one self-destruct as a result of substance addiction. While you might want them to independently seek help from someone with addictions worker training, or community support workers training, it can be very difficult to facilitate that first step (especially if the loved one is reluctant to admit that they have a problem). In certain parts of the world, some people turn to an Involuntary Commitment Act in order to get a loved one (who is suffering from an addiction) the help they need to recover.

In Canada, only individuals with mental health disorders (who could be a threat to themselves or others) can be committed involuntarily – and the process requires a trial in which supportive evidence is presented. Canada has very strict regulations when it comes to committing someone without their consent.

If you plan to enroll in a mental health worker program, you will likely touch upon several existing Involuntary Commitment Acts in some of your courses. However, if you’re curious and would prefer to understand these Acts sooner rather than later, continue reading to find out everything you’ll need to know.

What Is It?

Involuntary commitment is the legal process of having a loved one – who is suffering from a severe mental illness or substance addiction – assessed and treated in a hospital or community facility. This is usually the absolute last resort that someone will take to try and help a loved one who could be a danger to themselves and others. It’s important to note that the individual who will be assessed and/or treated must actually be a severe threat to themselves or others to be committed involuntarily. Some examples might include someone with an addiction who is a danger when they become intoxicated; someone who cannot properly care for their children due to an addiction or mental illness; or perhaps someone who has lost their job due to substance addiction or a mental illness.

How It Works

There are several different Involuntary Commitment Laws that exist – Florida’s Marchman Act, for example. Though they are all quite similar, the procedures followed may differ slightly for each. Normally, someone who has a close relationship with an individual suffering from an addiction (family member, friend, doctor etc.) can file for a petition to have this person treated. Of course, in most cases the individual being involuntarily committed will be afforded an attorney to defend them (if they choose to refuse treatment). A legal hearing might occur in a courtroom, hospital or treatment facility, and a judge will make the final decision based on the arguments of both sides.

What About Autonomy?

One controversial issue surrounding Involuntary Commitment Acts is that it directly counteracts a person’s right to self-determination. And of course, autonomy is extremely important when it comes to any type of medical procedure – which can normally only be performed with consent. It cannot be stressed enough that an individual can only be involuntarily committed – and have their autonomy taken away – if there is solid proof that they cannot make their own decisions, and have become a threat to themselves or others. Once an individual has received treatment, has proven that they are no longer dangerous and can make sound judgements, their autonomy will be restored.

What are your thoughts on Involuntary Commitment Acts? Do you see them as necessary, or do you think they tread on a person’s right to choose?

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