For parents, one of the most difficult decisions can come when your child is struggling with drug abuse or alcohol abuse. You may end up looking desperately for answers that are not as cut and dry as we would hope. Part of you may want to force your child to get treatment, even if they are in denial of their substance use or just refuse to accept help. So you ask- can I make my child go to rehab?
Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Trouble with Teens
Because underage children cannot begin to understand just how much drugs or alcohol can impact their futures, and their health, they are the people most likely to resist getting help. Teenagers are also less likely to have control over their impulsive behaviors because their brains are still not fully developed.
Of course if your child is a minor, it is possible to make them go. Legally, anyone under the age of 18 years old can actually be placed into a residential drug treatment facility without their consent. In the United States, if the child’s parent or legal guardian has custody and a right to protect the child, then they are able to take some extreme action if needed.
However, while it is legal, the bigger question may become should you make your child go to rehab? Is this the most effective way?
Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Adult Children
But what if your child is not a minor?
Well, it is still possible to force one of your adult children into treatment in some states. In a few states across America there are laws that allow family members to legitimately force addicts into rehab. In some states where these laws don’t already exist there are movements to push for such legislation. However, making an adult child go to treatment is not just picking a place, grabbing the person and dropping them off. With trying to make an adult get treatment, there is more of a process.
For example, in the state of Florida there is a law called the Marchman Act. This is one of the more progressive laws in America regarding drug and alcohol rehab.
The Marchman Act requires that in order to petition for an addict to be involuntarily admitted to treatment, there has to be present either:
- A spouse
- A relative
- In the absence of family members, three people who have direct contact and understanding of the addict’s condition
Whoever the petitioners, the individuals must be able to provide proof that the individual has lost control and that are likely to harm themselves or someone else. The state you live in may have different stipulations for involuntary commitment to a drug or alcohol treatment facility.
Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Intervention
One way people will decide to try and make their child go to drug treatment is by staging an intervention. Sometimes this is done with a professional intervention specialist, and other times it is something organized by the family and loved ones of the individual. In this context, some parents or loved ones may try to blackmail or bribe the individual into getting help.
The term ‘tough love’ is thrown around a lot in situations like this, but while it is important to set boundaries with loved ones, having a more compassionate and supportive approach is often much more effective when trying to actually help a loved one or child to end their suffering.
Communication is key. Having an understanding of what a loved one is going through and what the risks are is crucial to having a constructive and helpful conversation about addiction and getting treatment.
Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Should I Try?
After looking at your options, the more pressing question becomes- should I make my child go to rehab?
Of course there is no one-size-fits-all answer for this, but there are those who would suggest involuntary treatment is not as effective as voluntary treatment. Many would argue that recovery requires a real effort, and that someone who does not want to get clean will not succeed.
Others will refute this, and say there is no reason to believe that just because someone does not want to go to treatment doesn’t mean it won’t work. Courts will still sometimes mandate drug treatment in some form, and many people have attended rehab or went to recovery support groups and gotten clean and sober without an initial desire to do so. Also, some would rather their child be institutionalized in some way to keep them off the streets, regardless of what they want.
It is completely understandable for a parent to try to do everything in their power to get your child the help they desperately need. At the same time, it may be important to show compassion, support and have a direct and open conversation before trying to force someone into treatment. The reality is, if they have a bad experience they may never try again. Make sure to be honest and comprehensive, while also setting firm boundaries.
Addiction is a family disease. To learn more about setting healthy boundaries, download our FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.