Table 1

Substantive Criteria and Evidentiary Standards in Civil Commitment Statutes for Substance Abuse

CriterionStatute Exists, Used Regularly (n = 14)Statute Exists, Extent of Use Unknown (n = 6)Statute Exists, Used Rarely or Never (n = 13)All States With Statute (n = 33)
Dangerous to others1461333
Dangerous to self1461232
Needs treatment*76922
Gravely disabled or incapacitated103619
Loss of self-control§63918
Lack of decisional capacity52613
Danger to property1124
Pregnant and abusing112
Prior failed treatment2114
Evidentiary Standard
Clear and convincing115622
Probable cause, reasonable basis145
Other or unspecified standard2135
  • All values denote number of states.

  • * Includes requirement that treatment is deemed necessary to treat addiction, the patient is expected to benefit from treatment, or treatment is expected to prevent other negative outcomes.

  • Substance abuse alone (either chronic or acute) is sufficient for commitment.

  • Includes one state in which the criterion is listed only for alcohol or drug use.

  • § Demonstrates a repeated pattern of failing to meet social, financial, or occupational responsibilities.

  • Required by one state for outpatient commitment only.