3 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

Adam Mulligan

Understanding Voluntary Versus Involuntary Rehabilitation

Cite This
Adam Mulligan, (2022, June 20). Understanding Voluntary Versus Involuntary Rehabilitation. Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/understanding-voluntary-versus-involuntary-rehabilitation/
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Often when a person has an addiction, they don’t believe that they lack the control to stop. Someone with addiction rarely realises that they can’t stop, which is one of the most tricky things about addiction. 

Of course, certain opiate-addicted persons will realise they lack the control to stop. Still, most addictions are subtle and are more evident to the friends and family of the addict than to the addicted themselves. 

In those cases where a person realises that they lack control over using an addictive substance, say alcohol, then treatment may be voluntary. 

But in instances where addiction is impacting more than just the addicted individual, or where a person may be a threat to themselves or society, then involuntary rehab may be in order. 

Patients may have outpatient or in-patient care opportunities for voluntary treatment and rehabilitation options. 

In some moderate cases, addiction therapy can be managed by the individual. 

One of the first options for moderate care is for the addict to create a care team that, while a patchwork of therapists, doctors, and mentors, will assist the addict with their recovery and rehab. 

Another option is through the use of Telehealth and programmes that provide recovery services either remotely or in person.

A third option is for the addict to find online therapists and addiction specialist programs that the addict can sign up for, follow, and participate in passively. But, again, the problem here is with limited accountability toward recovery. 

When looking for a voluntary program, there are options such as the 12-step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, 

In a 12-step programme, the first thing is that the addict recognizes they have an addiction and are willing to seek help. Often, these programs rely on support groups and work on a mentorship structure where a person further along in recovery helps guide newer people through the process. 

There are four levels of addiction care that work to help the addict manage the psychological and physiological dependency and assist with their transition toward an addiction-free life. 

These alternatives to a voluntary 12-step program may include talk therapy, outpatient hospital care that may consist of partial hospitalisation, residential care, and intensive inpatient care in the most severe cases. 

  • Outpatient talk therapy. Talk therapy is part of traditional outpatient therapy, including regular office visits, medication support, or both.
  • Partial outpatient and hospitalisation. A combination of inpatient work with outpatient privileges is a technique in more severe addiction cases but doesn’t require entire hospitalisation for care.
  • Residential care. In more severe cases, 24-hour residential care may be prescribed. This type of care can be intensive around the clock or mellow residential care to help with physical and psychological dependencies.  
  • Intensive in-patient care. Intensive in-patient care is a prescribed remedy for only the most severe addiction levels. In addition, 24-hour services help manage withdrawal and possible health side effects. 

Regardless of the type of voluntary care that is needed, the key to recovery is to understand that there is a direct correlation between addiction and mental health. 

Treating the disease of addiction is a short-term solution without a corresponding treatment of underlying triggers. In some cases, addiction is from a genetic predisposition, but in most cases, the addiction is symptomatic of other issues manifesting through the addiction. 

In other words, taking care of mental and emotional well-being is crucial to addiction recovery. Treating the addictive dependency without addressing the individual’s mental health will turn out to be ineffectual. 

In instances where involuntary rehab is required, a doctor must prescribe, or a court order is required. Often involuntary rehabilitation is used when the person poses a public health threat, a threat to themselves, or is a minor under the care of a parent or guardian. 

Most involuntary care is for two weeks when a determination will be made to continue involuntary services or allow for a partial-to-the-full release of the patient. 

Regardless of the type of care that may be required, getting help is the most important thing. Whether a person can seek voluntary help with addiction or requires involuntary rehabilitation is due primarily to the risks that person poses to themselves and others.


Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.


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