Laws in involuntary treatment?

  1. Can a person who is acutely intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal to the point of hallucinating be involuntarily committed for treatment? Like if someone calls 911 for them but they don't want to go? What states have stricter/laxer laws regarding this kind of thing? what is the criteria for forcing someone into treatment? I don't work psych so I don't know about it. Thanks.
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    About JZ_RN

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 597; Likes: 1,292
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in Oncology


  3. by   kellycinalli
    Yes, they are un able to make a decision for themselves and if they harm themselves or another person.
    Had an x high on excasty and had to do the same for them. They can hold for 24 hours as well. The state I'm in is NJ
    Hope this helps!

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  4. by   Meriwhen
    In a voluntary patient, it's not automatic, as in "oh, you're too drunk so you can't leave." It'd be up to the doctor/police/magistrate to petition for an involuntary hold on the grounds that the patient is indeed a danger to themselves and/or others in their current condition.

    If they don't get the hold, then they can't keep the patient against their will, even if the patient is drunk and/or impaired.

    Also, keep in mind that just because a patient is under an involuntary hold doesn't mean that you can force treatment and medications on them. They retain the right to refuse, and it would take a separate petition in order to force them to comply with treatment/meds.

    In CA, the hold can be for up to 72 hours.
  5. by   JZ_RN
    Thanks for the info guys! I never worked with any patients who were involuntarily held, so I was curious!
  6. by   Meriwhen
    Quote from JZ_RN
    Thanks for the info guys! I never worked with any patients who were involuntarily held, so I was curious!
    No prob: I love clearing up that misconception. You'd be surprised how many patients--as well as how many nurses--think that if a patient is involuntary they have absolutely no rights whatsoever and can have treatment forced upon them.

    Mind you, emergency medication administration is a whole other ball of wax--in emergency situations where there's imminent danger to the patient or others, you can administer meds against their will without the need for a petition--but for the most part involuntary patients can refuse treatment and meds.
  7. by   Orca
    If a person is potentially a danger to him/herself or others, they can be involuntarily held. This would apply to many cases of acute intoxication.
  8. by   JZ_RN
    But they can't be forced to have/take meds unless they are in danger? Like, say someone was in DT seizures but refused meds? Or someone had OD'ed but was refusing treatment? sooo many grey areas.