One of the most terrifying things about dealing with a person who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol is that their family and loved ones have really no control. They are left to watch someone they love spiral out of control. The tricky thing about substance abuse is that it is very rare that anyone can force an addict to get help. Interventions and counselors and the legal system are there to support addicts who reach out for help, but it is difficult to force someone.

Intervention as Involuntary Commitment

However, there is one way that family members can intervene if the person is refusing to get help. If an addict is a threat to themselves or others law enforcement may be called. If they assess the situation and determine that the person is no longer thinking clearly and poses a risk they can take them on involuntary psych hold. This is sometimes called a 1013, because that is the code police officers use. But, to be more specific, a 1013 is more commonly used on a person who is considered out of control, psychiatrically. When a person is out of control because of drugs and/or alcohol, many agencies use the code 2013. Other states used the all-encompassing 5150 code for someone who is psychiatrically a threat, regardless of drug use or not. Regardless of the code, this is vital information for anyone who ever feels at risk due to someone’s substance abuse and most states have this safety measure in place.

So, what happens after a person is placed on an involuntary hold? They are generally taken to some sort of hospital, usually a psychiatric hospital, where they are given an examination. Depending on the state where the incident is occurring, the hospital usually has a certain amount of time they can keep the person against their will. 72 hours is the average length of time someone can be kept against their will. During this time, they will be assessed by doctors and nurses and likely given medication to combat whatever emotional or physical issues they have going on.

Medical and Psychiatric Assessment

Once the medical staff have made their assessment the person is either recommended to continue treatment or released. Generally, a person who is suffering from a drug and/or alcohol problem will be released after they have regained control over themselves. Because of this small window of time, families are encouraged to make the best of the situation. This means that while the person is detained the family and/or loved ones can contact treatment centers, hire an interventionist or attempt to rid the home of substances. This is a time where everyone in the family can be assured that their loved one is not using, is not in danger of overdosing and will not hurt themselves or others. Because of this, it is vital that the time be used to put in place a healthy discharge plan for the individual. Doctors and therapists at the hospital can help with this as well. Of course, these actions are not a guarantee that the person will not seek out and locate drugs, but in many cases, they do help.

It is important to note that involuntary holds cannot be placed on someone who is simply under the influence of drugs. This is reserved for someone who is in the middle of a psychiatric break or actively threatening to harm themselves. There are other alternatives for someone who is threatening to harm others, likely law enforcement will simply arrest the individual.