Ohio's Forced Rehab Law Is Hardly Used
Forcing your loved ones into rehab is controversial—and the cost can be prohibitive.
Ohio passed a law in March that allows addicts' families to force their loved ones to go to rehab. But it's been used just once since being put on the books. That case involved a woman with severe alcoholism from the Cleveland area—she's reportedly responded well by agreeing to stay in treatment beyond the court-mandated time frame. It appears that money is the biggest reason more families aren't utilizing the law. Cuyahoga County Probate Court Magistrate David Mills says that his court has received numerous inquiries about it. But families generally choose not to move forward after learning they must sign an up-front agreement to pay the total bill for treatment and give the court a deposit for half of the amount—typically several thousand dollars. "While we have problems with this, we don't chastise the intent to try and help someone who needs help," says Bill Denihan, CEO of Cuyahoga County's Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. "But this is for those that have money. The question we have is what about those who don't have money? How is this fair and equitable?" Addicts who don't want treatment could also potentially challenge forced rehab as a violation of their civil rights. Elsewhere, Kentucky introduced a similar law eight years ago that doesn't require signed agreements or up-front deposits, while up to 38 states have some type of law that allowing addicts to be temporarily detained—but usually just for a few days—if they're deemed a danger to themselves.