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Can You Send Children to Rehab?

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Can You Send Children to Rehab?

It can be very hard and scary for parents or guardians to recognize the signs of substance abuse in their child. It can be even more difficult to consider making the difficult decision to send a child to an addiction treatment facility. It is harder than dealing with adult loved ones as underage people are likely to resist drug rehab programs due to limited understanding, feelings of hostility, lack of experience and foresight about the many dangers of substance abuse.

Children and teenagers also have a lower capacity of discipline and self-control due to their minds not yet fully developing and thus, the difficult decision of addiction rehab falls on to the parents. Because of their lack of development, children are also more likely to go to rehab more often than the average addict.

It is incredibly difficult to see your child suffer through drug issues and mental health concerns, whilst also stubbornly refusing treatment. It can take a toll on your relationship with them as well, especially if your enroll your child in an inpatient treatment. But, treatment is necessary to manage symptoms and drug use in the long run so that your child can live a happy, healthy life and to ensure that they remain sober for the rest of their lives.

As per the law in the United States, people who are 17 years of age or younger can be enrolled into inpatient rehab to receive treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, even if it is an involuntary commitment. While they may seem harsh, there are instances where the parents may not have another choice. If your child is suffering from hard drug addiction such as cocaine or heroin use, then strict treatment options will have to be considered with family support to save your teen’s life.

Signs of Addiction in Your Child

The very first step in getting your child the right medical help is by first recognizing the problem and if that it is indeed addiction. To be absolutely certain, you can check for a variety of symptoms of drug abuse as well as traces of mental illness. These two go hand-in-hand and will exacerbate the other if not dealt with immediately.

For many children, drug and alcohol consumption becomes a way to overcome feeling trauma that may have occurred in the past. Untreated trauma can often affect a child by instigating urges for drug use. Other times, poor company, peer pressure, unhealthy home environment, etc., can also be reasons for why children may succumb to addiction.

However, before you decide that your child is indeed a victim of drug abuse, you must be certain at all costs. Forcing a child into addiction when there is no addictive pattern can cause a serious rift between the parent and child.

How to Recognize Signs of Addiction

If you are a parent who suspects their child is a victim of substance use, then you should keep an eye out on some of these symptoms:

  1. Your child stays out late with friends that you aren’t always aware of.
  2. You have noticed a change in the group of friends and overall company that your child keeps.
  3. Your child does not have a set sleeping pattern.
  4. Your child behaves erratically, hides things, and is completely withdrawn from family.
  5. You have noticed a deterioration in hygiene and grooming habits of your child.
  6. Your child is losing or gaining weight rapidly.
  7. You have noticed large or small pupils in your child’s eyes.
  8. Your child falls sick easily and often.
  9. You have noticed their eyes are often puffy and red.
  10. You have noticed a decrease in their school performance and grades.
  11. Your child keeps drug paraphernalia.
  12. Your child is always anxious, fidgety, and depressed.
  13. You have noticed a significant decrease in focus and concentration levels.
  14. Your child is always in bed and feels lethargic.
  15. You have noticed a change in appetite.
  16. Your child is always aggressive and violent.
  17. They are no longer interested or invested in childhood hobbies and talents.
  18. You have noticed physical symptoms such as redness around the nose or mouth area.

It is crucial that you are first ensure that these symptoms are related to addiction and not mental health issues such as depression, bipolarity, anxiety, and other personality disorders. Sometimes teenagers can just be moody and brash, but that doesn’t mean they are into drugs. But, if several of these symptoms are clear then there is a strong chance that your child is suffering from substance abuse disorder and that you should seek help immediately.

The National Library of Medicine states that 27.2 percent of teens from classes 8 to 12 used an illicit drug at least once in 2014. In addition to this, 19.4 percent of high school seniors reported binge drinking that same year.

What Should You Do if Your Child is Addicted?

There are several steps you can take to help your child overcome addiction and seek a long term treatment to enjoy a healthy, peaceful life.


As parents, it is your sole duty to get your child the treatment they desperately need to combat any traces of addiction. It is legal to force your child under 18 years of age to enroll into rehab, but this way isn’t always recommended and can often leave a permanent strain on the parent-child relationship.

One of the most effective ways of intervening is by building trust and enabling your child to make this serious decision themselves. It is of utmost importance that parents are there to guide and advise their children so that they can make this decision on their own.

In some cases, an intervention can be necessary. This is usually for situations where the levels of addiction are so severe that the teenager or child is incapable of making this decision themselves. In such a situation, it is the duty of the loved ones to intervene and get them the help they need.

However, this isn’t as simple as it sounds and can take a toll on your child’s mental health if you aren’t careful. Be sure to research rehab centers in your area and get in touch with doctors and therapists to get the best advice. In case of an intervention, the treatment facility will have to be notified earlier before you bring the patient to them and this is done to avoid your loved one from backing out at the last minute.

This kind of intervention requires some level of subtlety and secrecy and therefore can result in an outburst of anger and defensive behavior, or even violence. In the event of a mental health emergency or an emotional breakdown, many parents and staff will have to prepare beforehand on strategies to control the situation.

Intervention can be quite an intense process; therefore we recommend hiring intervention experts beforehand to calm the situation down. These experts can mediate the situation and ensure that the transition is smooth and stress-free.

Tips on Carrying Successful Intervention for Your Child

Intervention can be a delicate process for most families where everyone must discuss in detail and make the sensitive decision to enroll their loved ones in a dedicated mental health and addiction treatment facility. Addiction experts and intervention officers can help family members and friends use the right kind of language and engage productively to get their loved one to go to rehab. When staging an intervention, the following points can be extremely useful:

  1. Always remember to practice sensitivity and use appropriate language when dealing with subjects such as substance abuse as the wrong thing can easily trigger young teens and children.
  2. Try and highlight the positives of the treatment such as a happier and healthier lifestyle, better relationships, etc., when speaking to a young addict so they can see reason instead of emotion.
  3. Refrain from using a harsh tone or pointed language that could place the blame on the child and force them to withdraw from you further.

Helpful Steps in Getting Your Child into Rehab Through Staging Intervention

There are several steps you can take in helping your child enter rehab through a strategically planned intervention:

1. Get Professional advice

Doctors, therapists, addiction experts, and intervention officers will always give you the best advice keeping in mind the level of and severity of addiction suffered by the child. They also take into account relationship dynamics, past traumas, etc., to help engage with the child in a productive fashion. They will help you plan and rehearse the intervention and how it will transpire.

2. Planning the intervention and forming the group

This is one of the most important stages of intervention. Bringing together the people your child loves and trusts such as relatives, teachers, etc., can make a colossal difference when engaging with them. They can share information, relay important points, and calm them down if the situation becomes intense.

3. Rehearsing Impact Speeches

This statement helps your child realize their struggle and the immense need for help and medical assistance for their health and well-being. Your impact statement can be from your own personal point-of-view with the help of professionals. You can talk about how much it has hurt your child and their relationship with their loved ones, and why seeking addiction treatment is crucial.

4. Staging the Intervention

The last phase is actually staging the entire intervention and after discussions and rehearsals.

What happens when staging an intervention doesn’t work?

In some of the worst case scenarios when the intervention does not work, you can force your child to join the drug rehab program, although this method should always be at the bottom of the list. There are many other options that you can avail to have your child committed to rehab including family counseling, therapies, etc.



Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.