Petition for Essential Treatment and Intervention
Utah Law allows a relative of a person suffering from a substance use disorder to file a petition with the court seeking essential treatment and intervention for that person.
- A relative means an adult who is a spouse, parent, stepparent, grandparent, child, or sibling of the person to receive essential treatment.
- Essential treatment means court-ordered treatment for a substance use disorder. (Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. See the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for a complete definition.)
If the court grants the request, the person can be ordered to undergo treatment.
The person starting the case with court the is the petitioner. The person who might be ordered to receive substance abuse treatment is the respondent.
The petitioner may need to make two or more trips to court:
- First to file the petition. The court will review the petition and decide if the respondent must be examined by essential treatment examiners. The respondent has the right to request a hearing to challenge this requirement.
- Then, if the examinations take place, the court will hold a hearing to decide whether the respondent should receive essential treatment.
The petitioner must show:
- the respondent is suffering from a substance use disorder; and
- the substance use disorder presents a serious harm to the respondent or others if it is not treated.
"Serious harm" means the respondent is at serious risk of:
- drug overdose;
- serious bodily self-injury;
- serious bodily injury because the individual is incapable of providing the basic necessities of life, including food, clothing, or shelter; or
- causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury to another individual.
The petitioner must provide information about at least one local substance abuse authority or approved treatment facility or program where the respondent can receive essential treatment.
The petitioner should schedule appointments that have a flexible cancellation policy with two essential treatment examiners, and provide information about those appointments in the petition.
The petitioner or someone else must provide a financial guarantee indicating that they will pay all treatment costs beyond those covered by the respondent's health insurance policy for court-ordered essential treatment for the respondent.
A judge will review the petition and decide whether the information, if true, is enough to order the respondent to undergo essential treatment. If the judge decides that it is enough, the court will:
- Schedule a hearing to determine whether the respondent should be ordered to undergo essential treatment.
- Provide notice to the respondent, respondent's guardian (if any) and the petitioner about:
- The contents of the petition.
- A copy of any order for detention or examination.
- The date and purpose of the hearing.
- The right of the respondent to be represented by an attorney (at their own expense).
- The right of the respondent to request a preliminary hearing before submitting to an order for examination.
- Order the respondent to be examined by two essential treatment examiners.
The respondent may ask for a preliminary hearing before submitting to the examinations by filing a Request for Hearing.
If the court requires the respondent be examined, two separate examinations must be performed by two different "essential treatment examiners." An essential treatment examiner must be:
- a licensed physician (preferably a psychiatrist) who is qualified in the diagnosis of substance use disorder; or
- a licensed mental health professional who has at least five years' continual experience in the treatment of substance use disorder.
The examiners must determine:
- Whether the respondent:
- suffers from a substance use disorder;
- can reasonably benefit from the essential treatment;
- is unlikely to substantially benefit from a less-restrictive alternative treatment; and
- presents a serious harm to self or others.
- The severity of the respondent's substance use disorder, if any;
- What forms of treatment would substantially benefit the respondent, if the examiner determines that the respondent has a substance use disorder; and
- The appropriate duration for essential treatment, if essential treatment is recommended.
The examiners must submit their reports to the court within 24 hours after the completion of the exam.
There is no list of essential treatment examiners. The Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health's Substance Use Disorders web page provides links to treatment resources that might be useful.
After the examinations are completed and the examiners have submitted their reports, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether the respondent should be ordered to receive essential treatment. Both the petitioner and the respondent will have the chance to testify, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses.
The hearing is closed to the public. Only these people and their attorneys can attend:
- parties to the petition;
- the essential treatment examiners who completed the court-ordered examination;
- anyone who has been asked to give testimony; and
- anyone who was required to receive notice of the hearing.
If the court finds that the requirements have been met, it can order initial treatment for up to 360 days, subject to periodic review. The order will designate the facility for essential treatment.
The treatment provider is required to:
- examine the respondent at least every 90 days;
- notify the respondent and their personal representative or guardian (if any), of what happened at the examination and the results of the examination;
- release the respondent from the treatment facility if the examination determines that the conditions justifying essential treatment and intervention no longer exist; and
- send a report describing the reasons for release to the court after the respondent has been released, describing the reasons for release and also send copies to the respondent's personal representative or guardian (if any).
The essential treatment petition and any other document filed in the case are confidential and protected.
The fee to file a Petition for Essential Treatment is $360.
If the petitioner cannot afford to pay the filing fee, they can ask the court to consider waiving that fee. See the Fees and Fee Waiver web page for more information and forms.
Optional forms for the respondent