Man being charged with mandatory addiction treatment by judge

Does Mandatory Addiction Treatment Work?

If you have a loved one trapped within the toxic cycle of substance dependence, you may have hoped that they receive mandatory addiction treatment. You may have also wondered whether mandatory addiction treatment works. Or whether your loved one is stuck until they hit “rock bottom” or end up as a statistic.

Keep reading for our thoughts about how treatment works. And what you can do as a supporter of someone living with addiction.

Addiction Affects Us All

Often someone within the thralls of active addiction will break the law, hurt those they love and even be in complete denial about it all. It usually takes something significant to see the path they are on and where it is headed: toward significant losses, death or jail. Usually, by the time addiction has taken this type of hold, chances are they have had more than one “friend” lost to each of these horrible outcomes. 

They may have friends who are involved in the legal system or may become involved with it themselves. Involvement in drug court or the traditional legal system might result in a sentence to participate in mandatory addiction treatment. Individuals may even find their way into treatment after child welfare workers remove children from the home and make completing mandatory addiction treatment a requirement of reunification. 

No matter how someone finds their way into an addiction treatment program, substance dependency can be overcome.

Treatment Is Available No Matter Your Level Of Motivation

Addiction treatment options have come a long way in the last few decades. This progress is due in part to the increasing rate at which addiction-related health issues are identified and diagnosed. As well as the ratio of those seeking help. Treating all demographics and addressing the needs of patients with concurrent addictions, challenging behavioral patterns and other mental illnesses has brought fresh approaches to the treatment recovery field. Knowing what we know now, addiction and addiction treatment need to be completely individualized. Like most forms of therapy, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. 

Often those in the criminal justice system have added stressors, including but not limited to their complicated legal situations. In addition, those coming in on a mandatory order will also have the typical resistance and denial issues found in other substance abuse treatment clients. When creating a unique treatment plan and working through an addiction treatment program, all these variables need to be considered.

Whether someone is in addiction treatment by court order or not, your treatment team should continually revise treatment plans and assessments to reflect changes in the individual’s recovery situation and needs. These kinds of changes include recent relapses, continued sobriety, and improvements in mental and psychological functioning.

Types of Addiction Treatment Programs

With the increased awareness of substance use disorder (SUD), more opportunities to overcome that addiction stronghold are becoming widely available. From self-guided programs to fully online recovery programs to longer-term inpatient options. No matter the situation someone is coming from, there are programs available for anyone seeking addiction help. Of course, depending on the substance(s) and co-occurring diagnosis or addictions, the ideal treatment program will vary.

Treatment Options:

Does Self-Guided Treatment Work?

It is possible to find sobriety on your own without the help of a structured treatment program. Your plan may include utilizing local resources, like NA and AA, along with self-guided workbooks. However, a supervised treatment program offers more accountability and leads to more successful, lasting results. It takes significant self-discipline and self-control to break any bad habit, and addiction is another demon entirely. 

The actual chemical hold a substance can have on someone living with addiction adds a level of delusion. This makes the self-guided path to sobriety less likely to work. On the other hand, having a trained support team to help through the earliest days of addiction recovery has significantly increased the success rate of long-term substance abstinence. 

Reaching out and seeking outside help can be the first move in a life-saving direction.

On Being Encouraged vs. Mandatory Addiction Treatment

When the addiction becomes more evident to those in someone’s immediate circle, generally, those who care for them start to notice all the negative consequences stacking up. While they cannot make their loved one get help depending on the state they reside in (exceptions like Florida, for example, follow the Marchman Act), there are ways to encourage them to seek outside help. 

Take, for instance, hosting an intervention. This route is a traditional method of gathering one’s closest relatives, friends and family of someone in active addiction, using love and expressing concern to encourage them to seek help. Sometimes they aren’t interested or have failed to overcome substance abuse on their own or in a treatment program. However, this route can be successful in helping them agree to attend treatment on their own terms. 

Other coercive means of treatment occur when someone commits an addiction-related crime. This means possession of unlawful substances or being intoxicated at the time of the crime. The court system gets involved at this point and refers the individual for mandatory addiction treatment. When this happens, the individual’s journey toward sobriety becomes mandatory and supervised directly by the court system.

Should Treatment Be Mandatory?

Generally, a person can only be civilly committed to any type of treatment center unless they’re deemed a danger to the health or safety of themselves or others. Some would say we have seen great success with mandatory addiction treatment. Especially for those who have found themselves involved in repeated criminal matters. However, one thing we have learned about addiction recovery is that unless the user finds the motivation to quit, the process will never work.

Even if you force someone to detox (whether in a medically supervised facility or a jail cell), on the other side, the underlying addiction is still there. Once given the opportunity to use it again, they likely will. Although we have adopted the disease model for thinking about addiction, treating it is not like other illnesses. Many researchers have suspected that forcing people into a short-term drug treatment program may not be enough help for them to stay sober for the long term. 

It Takes More Than Just Mandatory Addiction Treatment

While substances are physiologically addictive, there are many more behavior and mental patterns involved in addiction. Forcing someone into a treatment program when they don’t want to quit will have them playing the system to get out faster. Only to return to their substance of choice. 

This type of short-term or less restrictive accountability can work when someone is genuinely trying to overcome addiction. But suppose the person in treatment isn’t interested in long-term sobriety. In that case, they may only comply with mandatory portions of their sentence with no intent to maintain sobriety after completing those requirements By not internalizing the addiction treatment recovery process, misappropriated efforts may go into a complete reversal after the program ends. 

However, when someone finds the motivation to quit, they will let the work of honesty prepare them for the process. It’s necessary to be open about triggers and cravings in order to replace them with positive coping skills You can’t force that state of mind on anyone. Not even the court system can ensure sobriety. But it can provide the incentive for individuals to seek a new life without drugs or alcohol. 

Self Motivation is the Only Way Recovery Will Work

Whether it was an intervention, court-ordered or voluntary – the odds of long term-success of addiction treatment strongly depend on your loved one’s desire to get and stay sober. 

Keys to success:

  • Wanting sobriety
  • Prioritizing values and determining one’s personal motivation for treatment
  • Being honest
  • Putting in a genuine effort
  • Utilizing available services/therapies

Treatment Itself Can Alter Motivation

While some critics have argued that treatment will be utterly ineffective unless a client is motivated to change their substance abuse behavior, the treatment itself can alter the client’s motivation. An indicator of an effective addiction treatment program can be measured by its ability to engage and retain clients. Even those who initially join under coercive pressures or court-ordered mandates. Sometimes, a forced push into a recovery environment tips someone into wanting to change their life. 

Helping develop one’s motivation for continuing on in the process by exploring what makes their life worth living and formulating a realistic plan towards a better future are essential parts of the recovery process.

The caring and professional staff at each Promises Behavioral Health Center are trained to help you or someone you know love pursue a life in recovery. Our team is ready with a safe and open space to heal and overcome addiction. With a support team like ours, you can be prepared and willing to make a better future.

Scroll to Top