Court-ordered rehab can be varying amounts of time. A study of 1,009 people who were sent to rehab by drug courts, found that the average length of treatment was 59 days. While 25% of these people went to residential treatment, the rest were outpatient. Keep reading for a deeper look at the length of court-ordered rehab.

Example Lengths of Court-Ordered Rehab

Judges can order people to different lengths of time in court-ordered rehab, and the type of rehab may also vary. For instance, in 2010, the courts required Lindsey Lohan to attend weekly alcohol counseling sessions. Later that year, a judge ordered her to go to inpatient rehab for 90 days. 

In other cases, court-ordered rehab can be much longer. After assaulting Rihanna, Chris Brown voluntarily entered rehab, and after 3 months, the courts ordered him to spend at least another 2 months in rehab. That is 5 months total. Note, however, that Brown was eventually removed from rehab and put in prison. 

Famous people are not the only ones who get sentenced to long terms in rehab. In 2010, a judge in rural Oklahoma ordered 23-year-old Brad McGahey to spend 1 year with Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR). In this tragic case, McGahey wasn’t even addicted to drugs, and the alleged rehab facility was actually a chicken factory.

What Is Court-Ordered Rehab?

Court ordered rehab is when the courts require you to go to rehab. Typically, judges turn to court-ordered rehab in situations where they want to help criminal defendants avoid jail time. 

Usually, this occurs when someone’s crime is a result of their drug use. People often make rash decisions while high or struggling with addiction, such as stealing so they can buy drugs. Typically, judges only order rehab for non-violent crimes, and this sentencing often comes into play on first offenses. 

However, families can also petition the courts to send their loved one to rehab. Only some states have these laws, and the requirements are fairly strict.

Emergency Orders for Drug Rehab

In several states including Florida and Colorado, families can apply for emergency orders to send their loved ones to rehab. The laws vary, but in general, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Prove your loved one is a danger to themselves or others.
  • Show the courts that your loved one can no longer make rational decisions.
  • Establish that your loved one refuses voluntary treatment.

Lengths of Time for Emergency Rehab in Different States

In Florida, the judges can order the person to be held involuntarily for 5 days for an assessment. Then, depending on the results of the assessment, the courts may order the individual to spend up to 60 days in treatment. 

Under Colorado’s laws, an individual may be placed under the care of the Office of Behavioral Health for up to 7 months. In this state, you must get a court order before the individual can be placed in treatment. Typically, getting the order takes 7 to 14 days.

Potential Issues With Court-Ordered Rehab

Unfortunately, there can be complications with court-ordered rehab. For example, in California, judges can order nearly anything they want in terms of treatment, but prosecutors can block risky decisions. 

To explain, imagine a judge orders outpatient treatment, but the prosecutors feel like the defendant needs more supervision. Even if the judges and the prosecutors agree, health care providers may have other opinions. When all these people can’t come to an agreement, the defendant may just get sent to jail with no treatment.

Who Pays for Court-Ordered Treatment?

The courts do not pay for court-ordered rehab. If you are sent to rehab, you need to figure out how to cover the costs. Most insurance plans offer some coverage for addiction services. Medicaid also covers many services, and some clinics use sliding scales so you just pay what you can afford.

What Is the Best Length for Court-Ordered Rehab?

There are a lot of different options on court-ordered rehab. Some people think rehab can only work if you choose to go. Others, including Shia LaBeouf, credit court-ordered rehab for helping them to change their lives. After being sent to rehab, LaBeouf addressed mental health issues from his childhood and spent a lot of time writing a critically renowned script. 

One study indicates that at least 35 days in court-ordered rehab is ideal. Researchers looked at people who spent more than 35 days in court-ordered rehab. Within 18 months, these people had committed fewer crimes and done less drugs than people who did not go to rehab. In contrast, people who spent over 65 days in court-ordered rehab didn’t exhibit any additional benefits. 

To learn more about rehab, contact a treatment center in your local area. If you have not been charged with a crime, get help now before you face legal action. Similarly, if you’re worried about a loved one, help them find resources to get past their addiction.


  1. Alcohol & drug emergency commitment/Alcohol & drug involuntary commitment. (2019, April 5)
  2. Duke, A. (2012, March 29). Lindsay Lohan’s troubled timeline
  3. Duke, A. (2014, March 1). Chris Brown ordered to stay in rehab another two months.
  4. Florida law on substance abuse treatment. (n.d.).
  5. Rehab scam: Defendants in court-ordered rehab work for free. (2017, October 4).
  6. Rinker, B. (2018, September 25). Giving clinicians more say in court-ordered rehab could lead to longer jail times.
  7. Rossman et al, S. B. (n.d.). The multi-site adult drug court evaluation: The impact of drug courts.

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