The lethal drug, fentanyl, has taken over the streets, making it imperative to get immediate help for loved ones and friends struggling with substance use disorder. Sadly, individuals in the grips of addiction often deny their affliction, making it challenging to persuade them to seek treatment. Fortunately, there is an option for those close to them – involuntary commitment to treatment.

According to experts, involuntary commitment can be an effective intervention for those with severe addiction who are unable or unwilling to seek help. Involuntary commitment allows individuals to receive the necessary treatment, even if they initially resist it.

Don’t wait for tragedy to strike; take action now to save the life of your loved one or friend. Consider an involuntary commitment to help them break free from the grips of addiction and start their journey toward recovery.

However, it’s important to understand that the process can be lengthy, confusing, and expensive. Involuntary commitment involves going through the court system, which can take up to 15 days. To make the process easier, the South Dakota Department of Social Services has released a brochure outlining the steps necessary for involuntary commitment. This can help individuals and families better understand the legal requirements and steps they need to take to initiate the process.

In some cases, emergency room doctors may be able to help expedite the process by putting an emergency commitment on a patient for up to five days. This can give families time to go through the involuntary commitment process and get their loved one the help they need.

It’s essential to note that involuntary commitment is not a decision to be taken lightly. It should only be used as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted. It’s also critical to ensure that the individual receives appropriate treatment and support after the commitment period to help them maintain their recovery and prevent future relapses.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, there are resources available to help. Reach out to a healthcare provider or addiction specialist to learn more about treatment options and support programs.

Steps for Involuntary Commitment:

Involuntary commitment (IVC) for substance use disorder can be a legal obligation for individuals to obtain emergency treatment. In South Dakota, the individual must meet the criteria outlined in SDCL 34-20A-63, which includes being a substance user who continually lacks self-control regarding alcohol and/or drug use and has threatened, attempted, or inflicted physical harm on self or others, is incapacitated by the effects of alcohol or drugs, or is using drugs or alcohol while pregnant.

If you’re considering IVC for a loved one or friend, here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Petition Any responsible person, such as a spouse, relative, friend, or physician, may apply for a petition by contacting the Clerk of Courts in the county where the person resides or is currently present. The Clerk of Courts will take the application to the judge, who will appoint an attorney to represent the petitioner. An addiction counselor will complete an assessment and make treatment recommendations based on the individual’s needs. Within five days, the attorney completes and submits a petition to the courts. However, it’s important to note that even if you apply, it does not guarantee that your loved one will be committed. There must be a threat, attempt, or act of physical harm to self or others, or a likelihood that harm may occur before the court would commit a person to treatment services without their consent.

Step 2: Hearing The individual has the right to their own attorney, and the court has ten business days to schedule a hearing. The person submitting the petition and the addiction counselor may be asked to testify at the court hearing. The individual will be present in court unless their presence is likely to be injurious to them. The judge will determine if the commitment requirements are met based on the testimony of the petitioner and the addiction counselor. If the requirements are met, the court will make an order of commitment to an approved treatment facility that can provide appropriate and beneficial treatment.

Step 3: Commitment Treatment services will be arranged by the addiction counselor who completed the assessment, and treatment is based on their recommendations. The commitment period is up to 90 days, based on the individual’s needs. Payment for treatment services under involuntary commitment may be assigned to insurance, private pay, other third-party payers, a combination of state and federal funding, or Medicaid.

SD Dept. of Social Services Brochure