Substance abuse disorders re-wire the brain so that many times no amount of familial, employment, financial or other pressure can interfere with the individual’s demand for more substances. More than 900,000 Americans have died since the 1990s from substance abuse. Certainly, the number of drug overdose deaths and alcohol-related deaths during the pandemic only reinforces the need for action by all reasonable means necessary.
We simply cannot wait any longer for people to “hit bottom” before they get help. Involuntary commitment to treatment through the courts provides an effective tool to deliver individuals with substance use disorders to treatment to start the process of re-wiring the brain for recovery. Many individuals must be mandated by the courts to treatment for a long enough period so their brains can cool down and begin to develop the internal motivation necessary for long-term recovery. There is significant research that confirms that involuntary commitment to treatment is at least as effective, if not more so than voluntary treatment. We will explore these studies and the rationale therein and, as a result, professionals will be more comfortable with the science and the wisdom of using involuntary commitment laws.
Simply put, clinicians and interventionists must become more comfortable with the ways that the legal system can help assist the professional get their clients into treatment, whether or not the client initially wants it, for a long enough time for the brain to “cool down” and to begin to develop the internal motivation for recovery. The Florida involuntary commitment model known as the Marchman Act will serve as a guide for the exploration of this process. Attendees will gain an understanding of how laws requiring treatment attendance through court orders begin to approximate certain features behind the successes of programs such as Impaired Physicians and the FAA/Commercial Airline Pilots programs.