Can you Force Someone to Go to Rehab in Tennessee?

force someone to go to rehab in Tennessee

Watching a loved one suffer from addiction can be devastating, especially when their substance abuse begins affecting your quality of life as well. Oftentimes, the loved ones of addicts spend their days worried about whether they will survive. The consequences of addiction are plentiful, and substance abuse can result in life-threatening overdoses.

If your loved one has a substance use disorder and is not seeking help for themselves, you may begin to wonder what you can do. Trying to force someone to go to rehab may sound like the best option, but is that even possible in Tennessee?

Unfortunately, Tennessee does not have the same laws as other states, like Florida’s Marchman Act which allows you to involuntarily commit someone to a rehab facility.[1] However, some of the mental health crisis laws in Tennessee can apply to drug and alcohol addiction if your loved one meets the requirements.

Is it Possible to Force Someone to Go to Rehab in Tennessee?

Tennessee does not have an involuntary commitment process specifically for addiction. However, they do have a legal process that allows you to involuntarily commit someone to a mental health facility if you meet certain criteria. Within the Tennessee Code, the definition of mental illness includes drug and alcohol addiction, but your loved one must meet the specified criteria to be forced into treatment.

The criteria for involuntarily committing someone to a psychiatric facility include:

  • Having two certificates of need, either from two doctors or a doctor and a psychiatrist
  • Having a mental illness or significant emotional disturbance
  • Needing care and treatment for their mental illness or significant emotional disturbance due to a perceived threat of harm to themselves or others
  • Less drastic measures of placement into a treatment program do not meet your loved one’s needs

The process of civil commitment in Tennessee can be difficult and lengthy. Because of this, it should be used as the last step and recognized as a process with no guarantees.

If you decide to file a civil commitment for your loved one, you will have to complete the following:[2]

  • Have your loved one assessed by two different physicians and receive two Certificates of Need for involuntary hospitalization
  • Fill out an MH-5112 form with the Certificates of Need at your local circuit court
  • Hold a hearing within 5 working days after the petition is filed

If the judge finds that your loved one requires civil commitment, they will be transported to a psychiatric hospital if there is a bed available. It is important to note that they will be sent to a mental health treatment facility, rather than an addiction treatment program.

Convincing Someone to go to Rehab

Because the process of civil commitment can be lengthy, difficult to obtain, and often expensive due to the need for an attorney, you should always exhaust all other options beforehand. The first thing you should do is host an intervention.

Interventions are hosted by an addiction interventionist who is trained in helping people who suffer from addiction realize their need for treatment. The process involves careful planning and preparation to ensure that the intervention runs smoothly.  An intervention cannot force someone to go to rehab, but it can help convince them to go.

During the intervention, you and your family members will read impact statements that explain how your loved one’s addiction has affected the family. The goal is to appeal emotionally to your loved one, show them how their addiction is affecting their family, and convince them to attend addiction treatment.

Forcing Someone Struggling With Addiction Into a Psychiatric Hospital in Tennessee

If an intervention does not work, there are ways to force them into a psychiatric hospital during times of emergency. While the civil commitment process requires a court order, these methods do not.

It is important to note that this does not apply directly to addiction, but it can be used if your loved one’s addiction has caused an episode of psychosis, suicidal behavior, or a threat to another person’s life. Sometimes calling these services can provide your loved one with the “wake-up” call they need to accept addiction treatment willingly.

The three ways to involuntarily commit your loved one to a psychiatric hospital in Tennessee during an immediate threat include:

Tennessee Mobile Crisis Services

Your first option is to contact the Tennessee Mobile Crisis Services Hotline. When you call them, a crisis responder will come in person or assist you via telehealth. This service is available 24/7 and 365 days a year.

Tennessee Mobile Crisis Services will provide:[3]

  • A mental health and threat assessment
  • Referral for addiction or mental health treatment services if needed
  • Assistance in stabilizing symptoms
  • Follow-ups and check-ins

Law Enforcement

If there are immediate safety concerns or the mobile crisis service does not service your area, you should call the police. It is important to only do this if your loved one is displaying an immediate threat to the safety of themselves or others around them.

Once you call law enforcement, they will come and assess the situation. In Tennessee, cops are allowed to detain your loved one until a full assessment is completed. If the assessment concludes that they require professional help, they will be transported to a mental health facility.


If your loved one is expressing threats of suicide or harm to themselves, you can take them to the emergency room. Doctors can hold individuals who pose a threat to themselves until they are safe enough to be released. Sometimes, people suffering from addiction just need to hear from a professional that they desperately need professional help.

Finding Help for Drug Addiction and Alcoholism in Tennessee

Civil commitment is an option for individuals suffering from severe issues with addiction, however, the process is difficult and does not always provide people with the help they need. Instead of trying to force someone to go to rehab, the best way to help your loved one is to host an intervention and convince them that a drug and alcohol rehab program is necessary for their health and quality of life.

If your loved one is ready to accept treatment, PAX Memphis can provide them with the tools and support they need to get sober and achieve long-term sobriety. Contact us today for more information.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.