Can An Alcoholic Be Sectioned?

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In the UK, it is not legal to be sectioned for alcoholism. However, an individual can be sectioned under the mental health act if deemed a danger to themselves or others, but it does not often happen for alcoholics. 

Even if sectioning were possible, a successful recovery from alcohol addiction would be slim as the alcoholic is not ready to give up drinking.  

Many families and partners are struggling with an alcoholic who is unwilling to seek help [1].

The alcoholic's unwillingness to seek help leads to various stressors and heightened emotional distress among family members or in the alcoholic's relationships.  

But you cannot force anyone to go to rehab centers for alcoholics [8without their consent. The alcoholic must freely choose to attend rehab, and they are free to leave rehab whenever they want. 

The staff in the rehab facility may try to persuade the alcoholic to remain in rehab, but they cannot hold anyone against their will.   

An alcoholic may be put under psychiatric hold if they are thought to be a danger to themselves or others. However, they will be held for a short period, and the focus will be on mental health and not addiction [2].   

Alcoholics may be forced to detox if they end up in prison or end up in the hospital due to a significant alcohol-related health problem [3].

Some countries allow a family member to commit the alcoholic into a rehab facility. But in the UK, it is not permitted [3].  

There have been several studies on the potential benefits of alcoholic sections.   

A study published by NCBI ( Merrill JE, Carey KB, Reid AE, Carey MP. Drinking reductions following alcohol-related sections are associated with social norms among college students.  

2014;28(2):553-558. doi:10.1037/a0034743) showed that alcoholics mandated for intervention following an alcohol-related section often reduce their drinking before the intervention [4].   

The study involved college students who violated campus alcohol protocol.  

Another study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA. 2020, June 3. How can rewards and sections be used effectively with drug-involved offenders in treatment?) looked at how rewards and sectioning can be used to change behaviour [5].

The study showed that sections could be an effective tool in conjunction with other treatment approaches.   

Although these studies show that sections can contribute to abstinent behaviour, it is not legal to do so.  


How to get someone sectioned for alcoholism 

An intervention can help the alcoholic admit they have a problem, accept assistance and treatment. The intervention is a tactic used to motivate the alcoholic to seek treatment or enter a rehabilitation facility.   

You cannot get someone sectioned for alcoholism. But there are intervention services and steps that you can take to help.  

Here are steps you can take to motivate a person struggling with alcoholism: 

a). Stop all rescue efforts:

Family members try to shield an alcoholic from the consequences of their actions. They do this by helping them out of alcohol-related crises or by making excuses for them.

If you want to help an alcoholic, you have to stop all rescue efforts so that the person can bear the full weight of their actions.   

b). Be specific:

Tell the alcoholic family member or partner that you're concerned about their drinking, and you want to help them by finding a professional treatment programme.

You can support your concerns by citing examples of how the person's drinking has ruined relationships or caused disruptions.   

c). Time the interventions:

Plan to talk to the alcoholic shortly after an alcohol-related incident. Ensure that it's a time when you're both in the right frame of mind and can talk calmly.  

d). Communicate the consequences:

Inform the person struggling with alcoholism that you'll carry out specific consequences if they don't seek help. For example, you may refuse them entry into the house if they have been drinking.

Be sure to tell them that it's not a punishment; instead, you want to see them get better.  

e). Be ready to act:

Research about local treatment programmes or rehabilitation facilities. If the alcoholic agrees to get help, book an appointment immediately with a treatment counsellor.  

f). Call a friend:

If your loved one still refuses treatment, you can ask a friend or family member to help you convince them.   

g). Seek assistance:

You can plan for an intervention with the help of a professional therapist.  

h). Get support for yourself:

Whether or not your loved one consents to treatment; you can benefit from the support and encouragement of others dealing with the same situation. You can reach out to a support group such as Al-Anon.  

i). Acknowledge the problem:

It can be difficult for a partner, friend, or family member to admit that their loved one is an addict. However, admitting that there's a problem prepares you to become a support system to your loved one.   

j). Educate yourself: 

There are many resources out there that can help you understand the type of addiction. Educating yourself can help you prepare for the future and teach you the potential signs to look out for.   

k). The medical approach: 

Another way to help the addict is to propose a doctor's appointment. The doctor will be in a better position to see past the excuses of the addict.

They can also recommend the best actions to take, which can be eye-opening to the addict. In some cases, it has been proven to help the alcoholic think clearly when someone outside their family or social circle identifies the issue [6].  

You cannot have an alcoholic sectioned. But you can motivate the addict to accept treatment through intervention services or the 11 steps mentioned here.

You could encourage the alcoholic to seek help, support them to use the available services, or encourage them to proceed with treatment if they had already started [7].  

Questions to ask alcohol rehab centre

Enrolling in an alcohol rehab program is the turning point for addicted individuals. In rehab, extensive care is offered by medical specialists. However, a rehab program may be ineffective if it is a poor fit for the patient. That is why it is essential not to forget these key questions to ask at an alcohol rehab centre

Each inpatient requires specialized treatment since their experience with addiction is different from the next patient. Asking the type of treatment plan the rehab facility offers, the duration of the rehab program, and if aftercare treatment practiced will help you understand if an inpatient centre will meet your needs.

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

Last Updated: January 31, 2022

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Peter also co-authored the new 6th edition of Drugs In Use by Linda Dodds, writing Chapter 15 on Alcohol Related Liver Disease. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.