Can Minors Go To Rehab?

Sending your child to rehab is never going to be easy, but sometimes you just have no choice. As a parent, it hurts to have to acknowledge that your child may be dealing with something like this. Read on to learn how to handle this tough situation.

For parents dealing with their child’s addiction, there’s an ongoing debate. Is it appropriate to send your child to rehab, or should you wait it out until they go to rehab on their own? What should you ultimately do as a parent? Find out more.

Seeing a child suffer from substance use disorder can be one of the most painful things a parent may face. You spend years loving and nurturing them, only to see them go through something difficult — and it hurts you more than they know.

Yes, there is truth behind the acknowledgement that addiction is a disease. Knowing this helps some sufferers find assistance. Yet some studies claim that being aware of that fact may not be enough for others to seek help. They state that addiction is an actual physiological disease, but it takes more than for some people to go to treatment. What should a loving parent do? In this post, we will explore ways to find rehab for your child.

The Common Dilemmas of Talking and Waiting It Out

There are many ways of talking to your child about rehab. There is not one single method that works for everyone. For some, talking and waiting for their child to make up his or her mind can be the right strategy. Other parents may experience a long-standing cycle of wooing, begging, and becoming angry when a child is defiant about rehab.

Here are some common problems that may arise should you decide to wait it out:

The addiction may progress

Addiction isn’t a stagnant disease. It progresses due to the brain’s increasing tolerance to alcohol or the drug of choice. This can make recovery more difficult. Additionally, the chances of relapse tend to increase as individuals become more dependent on addictive substances.

Substance use disorder-related problems may take time to solve

If you refuse getting help sending a child to rehab and let them decide at their own pace, problems associated with drug use could remain the status quo. Are you having financial issues due to your child’s addiction? Is your relationship strained due to mental health and personality changes related to substance use? Do you have constant headaches (and heartaches) because you see your child change for the worse? These situations can’t be resolved until your child chooses to go to rehab.

Their lives are at risk

When parents choose to wait until their child decides to go into rehab, there are many complications that can occur. Some side effects are even life-threatening, such as overdoses. Driving under the influence, depression, suicidal thoughts, violence, and organ damage are other dangerous consequences associated with long-term substance use disorder.

As a parent, you may be wondering how to get someone committed to rehab when waiting isn’t an option. Thankfully, high-quality rehabilitation centers have a process called staging an intervention to help parents encourage their child.

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How Does Staging an Intervention Work?

An intervention is a delicate process where loved ones of a person with an addiction gather together and encourage their loved one to seek professional help. Interventions are usually staged with the advice of addiction specialists. The specialists help family members and friends use the appropriate words and discuss the right topics to achieve the goal of sending someone to rehab.

When staging an intervention, it is important to:

  • Be sensitive to the language that you use to talk about substance use disorder
  • Focus on the positive results that could occur if a person seeks treatment
  • Avoid blaming the person who has the addiction

How do you get someone committed to rehab through intervention staging?

Here is a basic guide on what to expect if you decide to stage an intervention for your child:

Finding professional help

Addiction experts are trained in staging interventions. They will help you plan the content of the meeting and how the event will transpire.

Forming the intervention group

These are the people closest to your child — they can be family members, friends, coworkers, or classmates, along with an addiction treatment professional. Together they will share information and plan for the event.

Writing and rehearsing impact statements

People can write impact statements with a personal point of view. The intentions of the statements are to help your child to realize how much their struggle with addiction affects each area of their life and understand how it hurts the people who love them. It is important for impact statements to avoid blaming, but rather come from a place of vulnerability, compassion, and openness.

Staging the intervention and getting help

After conversations and possible rehearsals, the intervention will take place. Hopefully, at this point, your child will be convinced to go into rehab. The addiction specialist will be available to help them get ready for addiction treatment.

What happens when staging an intervention doesn’t work?

There are options on how to commit someone to drug rehab, especially if your child is a minor. There are laws about parents sending their child to addiction treatment without their consent, due to the fact that they are considered minors according to government authorities.

Another Option: Sending Your Child to Rehab Through Involuntary Commitment

According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, there are 37 states in the United States where involuntary commitment to rehab is possible, especially if your child is a minor. Many parents may wonder, “Can you commit someone to rehab against their will?” In many cases, the simple answer to that question is yes.

In these U.S. states, it is important to take note that you cannot force your child to go to rehab against their wishes, even if they are minors:

  • New York
  • New Hampshire
  • Utah
  • Wyoming
  • Maryland
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona
  • Alabama
  • Montana
  • Vermont

Involuntary commitment

Involuntary commitment in these areas will violate their rights, even if it is to receive treatment. In the U.S. states not mentioned, it is possible for parents to send their children to rehab against their will. There are some measures to which parents must comply if they want to send their children to involuntary rehab:

Evidence of addiction

Parents must be able to gather substantial evidence about their child’s substance use disorder problems. This can be through photographs, videos, police records, and the testimonies of others.

Evidence of harmful use

Additionally, parents must have proof that their child has engaged in harmful acts that put their lives or other people’s lives in danger. This is an important criterion for involuntary commitment.

It is important to have sufficient if not overwhelming evidence about your child’s addiction problems in order to successfully send them into rehab. Otherwise, they have the option of contesting the treatment, as most U.S. states will also give them the right to defend themselves against your wishes.

What to Expect During Involuntary Commitment

The length of time your child stays in rehab and the type of treatment they will undergo depends on the recommendations of their health care team as well as your child’s unique situation. Since involuntary commitment to rehab occurs without a mutual agreement, your child may strongly disagree with your decisions. You may encounter some relationship strain during the course of treatment.

During this period, it is typical for your child to act rebellious, avoid contact, or even attempt to leave rehab. But with the right treatment management strategies in place, your child may eventually open up to the possibility of recovering — and eventually thank you for “forcing” them into rehab.

When Tough Love Is the Only Way

As a parent, you may be imagining an ideal scenario where your child happily consents to addiction treatment. Situations often don’t go as planned, though. There are many ways to show how much you love someone, and sometimes, showing your tough side is the only way to help them.

Just as instilling discipline can sometimes make a toddler cry, enforcing involuntary commitment can upset older children. But it can be a way for your child to achieve greater goods: freedom from addictions, better health, and a happy, fulfilling life.




Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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