In the world of addiction, parents face a daunting question: can they force their adult children into rehab? In this video, we delve into the legal and emotional complexities of this pressing issue. For those who prefer to read this information, you can find the full script below.

To learn more, contact us at 212-706-8112 or or book a consultation here:  

Many parents are desperate to help their adult addicted children. Drug addiction is a mental illness and it is often combined with some other one – such as depression or bipolar disorder. As a result, addicts frequently do not want to accept any help. Even after overdosing, they talk their way out of hospitals. So parents wonder – can you force them to accept treatment?

Parents can petition the court to become Guardians of their adult children. It is a legal process, requiring a full hearing and a showing of incapacity. Becoming a Guardian will give the parent a lot of new rights. It will allow the parent to get access to health information, to talk to clinicians, to apply for government benefits, to manage their child’s bank accounts and property, to apply for housing, to determine whether they can drive, and to access the child’s apartment. All of this can be very helpful in managing the day to day life.

Unfortunately, in New York, the guardian has no ability to involuntarily commit a person – either to a rehab facility or to a mental institution. In addition, a Guardian cannot overcome the person’s objections to treatment. So if a person is refusing to take medications – a guardian cannot force them to do so. Once parents hear about these laws, they frequently give up. However, there are some options!

  • First – hospital clinicians can order a short term involuntary commitment. Being a guardian of a person allows you to talk to the clinician and to give them a true medical history.
  • Second – a judge can order a patient to take medications – on penalty of another forced hospitalization. As a guardian, you can help the judge make the right decision by being able to share medical history and advocating for your child. Last, as a Guardian, you can cut off the child’s access to their own money – and condition the return on them getting proper treatment.

It is extremely hard to be a relative of an addict. However, do not give up! There are programs and support groups and legal help available. If you would like to get legal help with your drug addicted child, to see if a guardianship is a valid option, schedule an appointment with Sverdlov Law using the link below or call us on 212-709-8112.