Occasionally a loved one is addicted to drugs or is suffering from a mental illness. Unfortunately, the person may not realize he needs help with his addiction or suffering. Luckily all 50 states, including Massachusetts, allow a person to be involuntarily committed to a mental hospital or substance abuse program by a judge. While the burden of proof is high, giving your loved one the help he needs is priceless.
Gather evidence of a substance abuse problem or mental illness. According to Massachusetts law, an individual who is mentally ill or suffers from addiction can only be committed if he is likely to hurt or kill himself or others. Statements from family or friends, police and mental health professionals can be used as evidence to this effect.
File a petition for an order of commitment, submitting your evidence along with the petition. Commitment petitions or forms are available at local court houses throughout Massachusetts.
Wait for a judge to analyze the evidence and call for a hearing. Those suspected of suffering from substance abuse or mental illness in Massachusetts receive a court summons, a court-appointed attorney and a psychiatric evaluation. After reviewing all the evidence, the judge decides whether to commit the person.
Support and learn all you can about your loved one's condition after she has entered a mental hospital or substance abuse treatment program. Massachusetts, in cooperation with Alcoholics Anonymous, provides resources to family and friends of those afflicted with substance or mental health issues.
To get someone committed, you must be the spouse, blood relative or guardian of the person needing help. According to Massachusetts law, a person can't be committed into a substance abuse program or mental hospital by a non relation.If you are not related to the person in question, contact her family to encourage them to proceed with the committal process.
Individuals are involuntarily committed for up to three days in a mental institution or 30 in a substance abuse program.
You may want to hire an experienced mental health attorney for the petition for an order of commitment.
Theresa Bruno began her writing career as a librarian in 2008. She published an article in "Indiana Libraries" and has written many book reviews for "American Reference Book Annual" and "Reference and User Services Quarterly." Before becoming a writer, Bruno received a bachelor's degree in history/religious studies from Butler University and taught American history at Ivy Tech Community College.