Can we commit our alcoholic dad?

Q: My dad is 59 years old and is a chronic alcoholic to the point he is starting to lose his mind. We think he has brain damage from the alcohol. We don’t know what else to do. He’s now homeless never wants to eat and doesn’t want to go to the doctor. Basically, he wants no help he says he wants to die. We know he is very depressed and he is not mentally right anymore. He raised us alone after my mom passed away. I don’t want him to die like this. So how can we have him involuntarily committed? He is a danger to himself. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If his behavior meets the standard under Section 302 of the PA Mental Health Act regarding being a danger to himself or others, you can probably commit him. There is a plethora of free public information on the subject. You can try calling an organization called “Resolve” for help. You can also call a hospital, the police, or even legal services for a referral. Generally, they need someone to be the petitioner, which can be you if you are willing. Based on what you are saying, he may not meet the standard under 302, but it may be worth a try. You should also call Greenbriar, Gateway and Pyramid. They are drug and alcohol programs with in-patient and out-patient programs and may offer advice. If he can be persuaded perhaps a 28-day detox and in-patient follow-up can save him. Good luck.

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