In the movies, it looks so easy. You have a fight and you tell your addicted loved one to leave, and they do. In real life, kicking a drug addict out of the house will have real moral, legal, and fiscal repercussions, they may not leave or want to leave, and they may respond with denial, violence, grief, blackmail, or a number of other emotions that are difficult to deal with. No matter what your relationship, kicking your addicted loved one out of your house is not easy. And, it shouldn’t be.
If things are bad enough that you want your loved one to leave your home, then things are bad. You’ve likely already tried setting boundaries, asked them to go to rehab, and possibly made lifestyle changes to ensure their addiction affects you as little as possible. Or, you could be buying into ideas of tough love and think kicking them out will help them recover. In either case, you need action to change a situation that is likely deteriorating, and this article will help you to do so.
Can You Legally Kick Your Loved One Out of Your House?
Most states have very strict laws protecting a person’s right to live in their home. If that home is your house and they can prove it, they could take you to court and win if you kick them out. Even if you successfully take your spouse, daughter, or a roommate and throw them and their stuff outside, a court could force you to let them back in and pay restitution or even serve jail time. So, what are your legal recourses? That heavily depends on the situation and their behavior.
A Formal Hearing – You may be able to take your case to a local judge and have them agree that your family member should be removed from your home. However, without corroborating evidence, such as a signed agreement to not drink or use drugs in your home, most judges will be unwilling.
Contact Law Enforcement – If your loved one is breaking the law, threatening you, emotionally abusing you, or physically abusing you (or anyone else in your home), you can contact local law enforcement. Taking this route means that any action will be put in the hands of local law enforcement who will handle it as they see fit. If there is a follow-up arraignment hearing, you can make your case to the judge as to why they should not be allowed back in your home. Unless abuse or someone’s welfare is involved, the judge will not likely agree.
Violating Contracts – If your formal rental contract states that tenancy is granted on the basis of residents not breaking laws such as using illicit drugs, then a judge may be willing to agree that the offender should not return to your home because they will impinge on your ability to live in your home. This becomes more complex if the rental contract is in their name.
If you want to kick your spouse out, you likely need an order of exclusive occupancy from a judge. If you want to kick your roommate out, you only have to prove they violated terms of rental. And, if you want to kick your child out, you’ll likely need to them arrested and jailed to make this a legal measure.
Laws vary heavily by state, but most states do not approve of removing someone’s ability to live in a place they called home, even if they are an adult, your adult child, or a spouse. So, in most cases, you cannot simply legally kick someone out of your home.
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Is Tough Love the Best Solution?
Tough love is an enduring philosophy that suggests the easiest way to get someone to recover is to force them to hit rock bottom. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true, especially in the earlier stages of addiction. Today, we know that people recover best when they have support from friends and loved ones, when they have motivation in the form of friends and loved ones, and when they have a stable and loving place to return to after seeking treatment. Kicking someone out of your house will negate this, forcing them to possibly be homeless, to lose the protection of your home, and to lose any of the safety afforded by food, a clean place to sleep, and bathing facilities.
Instead, many addicts will respond to empathy, non-judgement, and being offered solutions in the form of treatment, behavioral therapy, and counseling. Of course, not every addict is prepared to accept help, even after you have tried these loving approaches. You may have already built up negative cycles of mistrust and anger that could be difficult to resolve. And, your loved one might simply not be ready to seek out help. In these cases sometimes tough love, while difficult and heartbreaking, may be your only option.
What Are Your Options?
You can’t legally kick your loved one out of your house except in extreme cases. And, doing so would likely put them at risk for disease, injury, and likely worsened addicted. What can you do instead?
Detach with Love – Wanting to kick someone out of your house often means that you are stressed, pushed to your limits, and you need a break. They might be causing fiscal, financial, or stress problems. Detaching with love is the process of stepping back, setting boundaries and limits, and deciding where and how you’re willing to invest. This might mean cancelling credit cards and taking away access to bank accounts, removing car access, refusing to stay up waiting for them to get home, not investing expectations, not responding to emotional bribery or bait, and taking time you need to rest and recover.
Contacting Authorities – In severe cases, you can simply contact the authorities and let them manage issues. This will remove your ability to help them decide how and where to get treatment.
Getting Help – If your loved one is resistant to moving into treatment, there are plenty of resources to help you and your family cope. Some of those include Community Reinforcement and Family Training, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon. Each of these resources focuses on helping families with addicted individuals make decisions that help move them into therapy. Most of these programs also significantly reduce the time-to-treatment for addicts. It is highly recommended to attend Al-Anon, where you can request resources, help from others in your position, and community support.
Living with an addicted loved one can be difficult, demanding, and hard on your ability to live a normal and healthy life. Obviously, you want to minimize that impact as much as possible. However, kicking them out won’t necessarily help them and it could result in major legal and fiscal repercussions for you and massive health problems for them. Working to get your loved into treatment, either because they agree, through motivational therapy, or through intervention from local law enforcement is often a much better and much safer alternative.
If you have any questions concerning addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Truvida Recovery. Call 800-218-1573 to speak in confidence with an experienced treatment advisor now.