Forcing A Person Into Rehab

Involuntary rehabilitation commitment, commonly referred to as Section 33, is a statute in South Africa enabling a qualified individual to obtain a court order for rehab. Our counsellors are here to help you today.



    What is Involuntary Rehab Commitment?

    Involuntary rehab commitment, referred to as Section 33, is a legal provision in South Africa that enables a qualified individual to request a court order for the involuntary treatment of someone with an alcohol or substance use disorder.

    Statistics suggest that around 30% of South Africa’s population struggles with addiction. Factors such as economic hardship, depression, grief and isolation, especially exacerbated by recent events like the Covid-19 pandemic, have seen this number increase, deeply affecting families and communities and highlighting the urgent need for effective recovery solutions.

    The ripple effect of addiction means it doesn’t just affect the individual; it impacts everyone around them, emphasising the collective struggle against substance abuse disorders.

    Committing Someone to Rehab: Is it Possible?

    Contrary to the belief that treatment can only be successful if the individual willingly seeks help, involuntary treatment has proven to be an effective step towards recovery. Addiction should be treated as a medical issue rather than a moral failing. Many individuals in the throes of addiction may not recognise their problem until they’ve received proper treatment. Factors contributing to addiction include:

    • A family history of substance abuse
    • Environmental influences, such as social circles and frequented places
    • Underlying psychological conditions

    The most effective way to initiate treatment for someone is through a Section 33 Court Order, approached not as a punitive measure but as necessary medical intervention.

    Getting a Section 33 Court Order

    Securing a court order may seem daunting but follows a clear procedure with the right documentation, including:

    • Two affidavits confirming the individual’s risk to themselves or others
    • A report from a social worker detailing the situation
    • A psychosocial assessment from a designated healthcare practitioner

    Immediate action is crucial in these cases to prevent further harm. Involuntary commitment serves as both a preventive measure and a path to recovery, acknowledging the potential for addiction to lead to fatal or criminal outcomes.

    Reaching Out for Help While the thought of needing emergency psychiatric care for a loved one is daunting, understanding that there are legal avenues for help offers some comfort. For those dealing with substance use alongside mental health challenges, seeking support is a critical step towards recovery.

    The purpose of an intervention is a seamless transition to rehab. The below preparations need to be in place before starting.

    10 Tips

    1. Get professional guidance to choose the team wisely.  Only those with a meaningful relationship that can motivate change need to be present.
    2. Choose the right time. Usually first thing in the morning, after a crisis that increases vulnerability.
    3. The right location. Ideally a neutral space, sometimes therapy offices, conference rooms or home.
    4. There is often an order of speakers starting with most intimate to sometimes wider community members.
    5. Rehearse clear explicit statements. Emotions can run high and role playing preparation is important.
    6. Scripts need to be short and not ad-libbed when presented.
    7. Warm, open body language. Arms and legs uncrossed, tilt towards the patient, lean in for emphasis.
    8. Keep tempers under wraps, do not fight fire with fire, arguing deflects from our purpose.
    9. Develop a unified front of plans to thwart potential exits with consequences already agreed upon.
    10. Studies show that treatment works for resistant patients! The intervention isn’t over until they’re in rehab.

    Rehab works even if the patient is unwilling to go into treatment.

    Addicted people resist rehab due to the structural and functioning changes in the brain, not defects of character. Patients often realise how bad it is only once they’ve been detoxed. People can be forced in rehab and after being exposed to treatment realise the extent of the problem. It’s only then that they begin to take responsibility for their recovery.

    A professional intervention requires hours of work with the family before engaging the patient. The role of the family is to have a persuasive conversation with clear boundaries and consequences.

    The fundamental point is that the immense concern over the drinking or drugging has escalated to a point where it’s no longer possible to continue.

    Would you be willing to force your loved one into rehab if it would save their life?

    In cases where the individual is clearly a risk to themselves or society, it is possible to obtain a court order forcing the admission to a drug or alcohol rehab. We have private social workers that specialise in compiling reports to speed up the process for court-ordered rehab.

    In South Africa, rehab is court ordered under the Prevention of and Treatment of Substance Abuse Act. People from the UK, Holland, Dubai, Kuwai and Suabia Arabia may also be court ordered into a South African drug or alcohol rehab.

    Read more about the various types of interventions.

    Don’t let another day stand between you and recovery. Call 081 444 7000 for immediate admission to the best private rehab centres. If you’re calling from the UK, dial 0800 955 4357

    In South Africa, the State makes provision allowing for the committal of people who, due to substance abuse, do harm to themselves by wasting their money, disturbing the peace, harming themselves physically or neglecting themselves or their family.

    In the State of Florida, USA, a similar commitment statute known as The Marchman Act exists. This is a law designed to help families through legal means by getting the courts to have loved ones addicted to alcohol or other drugs into a court ordered and supervised intervention, assessment and stabilisation, detoxification and long-term treatment if necessary, when they will not do it themselves.

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