Attorney’s Office

Frequently Asked Questions (Mental Health/Substance Abuse)

  • I suspect my son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc is using drugs can we force them to receive treatment?

    Yes, forced treatment of substance abusers takes place under Chapter 125 of the Iowa Code and allows for forced hospitalization of people who are Chronic Substance Abusers if:

    1. They habitually lack self control as to the use of chemical substances and as a result of that habitual lack of self control:
    • They lack judgmental capacity with respect to their hospitalization or treatment; and
    • They are dangerous.Dangerousness can be proved in one (1) of two (2) ways, either:
      • As a result of their lack of self control they are likely to physically injure themselves or others if allowed to remain at liberty without treatment; or
      • As a result of their lack of self control they are likely to endanger their health if allowed to remain at liberty without treatment.
  • How do I start the process to have my son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc forced into treatment?

    Contact the Mental Health Clerk for the 5th Judicial District at (515) 286-3666. You together with a doctor's letter, alleging your son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc. is a Chronic Substance Abuser or is Seriously Mentally Impaired, or another witness will need to present yourself to the clerk to fill out the paperwork necessary to do a filing. After the paperwork is filed, a hearing will take place within five (5) days, where a judge will determine whether or not your son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc is a Chronic Substance Abuser or is Seriously Mentally Impaired.

Contact Us

Polk County Attorney's Office
Polk County Justice Center
222 Fifth Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: (515) 286-3737
Fax: (515) 286-3428
Email: ctyatty@polkcountyiowa.gov