Involuntary Commitment Laws by State 2023

Long-term involuntary commitment laws permit psychiatric centers to accept a patient for an extended time, without their consent, if they’re showing severe symptoms of mental illness. Usually, these proceedings might be initiated when a patient poses a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness, is unable to meet their basic needs, or is gravely disabled. All 50 states have laws regulating long-term involuntary commitment.

What’s The Process of Committing Someone?

Involuntary commitment laws by state vary. It would be best to consult a local expert for guidance on your state’s procedure. People best to guide you include:

  • Your local hospital
  • Your local police department
  • Your family psychiatrist or doctor
  • A specialized lawyer in mental health law
  • Your state protection and advocacy association

What’s the Duration of an Involuntary Commitment Proceeding?

The involuntary commitment duration varies by state depending on the factors like:

  • The duration of stay
  • The commitment process
  • The grounds for commitment
  • The option for outpatient commitment

Each state predetermines the durations and keeps a minimum duration from infringing on the patient's rights. The medical staff might also propose extended duration depending on the patient's needs. For example, in Pennsylvania, hospital staff can’t keep patients admitted under the program for more than 120 hours.

Which States Permits Involuntary Commitment Laws for Substance Abuse Disorder Only?

Currently, Vermont is the only state that provides this level of commitment. Remember, substance use disorders are technically mental health conditions. However, medical personnel, law enforcement, and mental health experts sometimes handle the disorders differently.

If a patient is endangering themselves, or intoxicated due to substance abuse, excluding alcohol use, concerned people might ask for involuntary substance abuse treatment.

Which States Permits Involuntary Commitment Laws for Alcoholism Only?

Rhode Island and Montana are currently the only states that permit involuntary commitment for alcoholism. These states are different from others as they don’t permit involuntary commitment to addiction to substances like stimulants, hallucinogens, and opioids and instead focus on alcohol use conditions.

Which States Permits Involuntary Commitment Laws for Both Substance Use Disorder and Alcoholism?

These states include:

Can I Force a Patient to Receive Treatment?

It’s illegal to force a patient to receive treatment unless they’re legally proven incompetent to make their own decisions. Even though the patients have been forced to receive treatment, most states will deem them able to make their own medical decisions unless it’s determined otherwise.

Patients who are in immediate danger might be given medications on an urgent basis. However, these medications help calm the person and stabilize their medical condition rather than treating their mental conditions.

For example, a sedative can be recommended to prevent the patient from harming themselves. Nevertheless, they can’t be subjected to an antidepressant as this is assumed to be treatment.

Involuntary Commitment Laws by State 2023