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Many Parents Are Asking Can I Force My Teenager into Rehab
Nothing can bring a parent to their knees faster than learning their teenage son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol. With overdose rates at stratospheric levels and too many young people losing their lives to drugs, is it any wonder that a parent who suspects their child is abusing drugs or alcohol might ask, “Can I force my teenager into rehab?”
Striving to gain some control over the situation, parents should first educate themselves about teen drug abuse by visiting the recent publication posted on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website. This guide has an abundance of important information that will provide much needed answers to questions about how to proceed.
Signs and Symptoms of Teenage Drug or Alcohol Abuse
When an adolescent is experimenting with drugs and alcohol certain signs will begin to crop up, alerting a tuned in parent that something is amiss with their teen. It is important to note that some of these signs and symptoms could be the result of a mood disorder, hormonal fluctuations, teen drama, or lack of sleep. But if your teen exhibits several of the following symptoms it would be wise to seek professional help:
- Unusually large or small pupil size
- Change in dietary habits resulting in significant weight loss or gain
- Changes in sleep habits
- Withdrawn behavior, isolating from friends and family
- Severe mood swings
- Changes in friends/social circle
- Frequent lethargy
- Bloodshot eyes
- Increased irritability and aggression
- Exhibits paranoid behavior
- Decreased academic performance
- Increased impulsivity or risky behaviors
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once enjoyed
- Staying out late
- Changes in hygiene and grooming
- Bursts of energy followed by a crash
- Money missing from family members’ wallets
- Prescription drugs missing from medicine cabinet
What About an Intervention?
While wondering, Can I force my teenager into rehab, thoughts of dragging the teen kicking and screaming to an addiction treatment program may seem barbaric to some parents. Most teens will indeed resist any attempt to address a potential problem with drugs or alcohol, often totally denying it to their parents, and to themselves. But parents do indeed have the legal right to admit their child, ages 12-17, to a treatment center for substance abuse.
There are some methods that may assist with the effort to get teens on board to receive the help they need. It is always best for the teen to make the choice to get treatment voluntarily, so some parents may try to create incentives to persuade their adolescent to see a doctor. Regular annual physicals allow a physician to chat with the teen about any drug use and even order drug screening tests included in the yearly blood panel. Based on the results, the doctor can then refer the teenager to a treatment program.
Family pressure can be applied during an intervention-type meeting where those who love him or her confront the teen and persuade them to get the necessary treatment for substance abuse. However, because teens rarely admit they have a problem, it is important to have a professional facilitate the meeting. The professional will keep the meeting productive, discouraging the family from using fear and accusations to drive the discussion, and to intervene in the event the teen acts out violently. So yes, when a parent asks “Can I force my teenager into rehab? there are various methods available to accomplish this.
How is Rehab for Teens Different than for Adults?
When rehab is needed for a teen who is abusing drugs or alcohol, certain treatment differences between teenagers and adults must be taken into consideration. The teen brain is still under construction, with the executive functioning component still not fully developed. The executive functions involve processing risks and impulse control, so teens are more susceptible to impulsivity and emotion driven decision-making. Because of this, the rehab program for a teen should require clearly defined boundaries and external controls.
In addition, a teen rehab should connect emotionally with the teenager, versus only logically. The teen brain processes information differently than an adult, so they may not be responsive to purely logical addiction education. An emphasis on the family dynamic is an important factor in teen rehab. The family is a teen’s primary social construct and source of support, so including the family during the treatment process should be a high priority at a quality rehab for adolescents. Learning whether there is a history of abuse, neglect, or trauma is also intrinsic to the teen receiving the most effective psychotherapy.
Seeking Help and Treatment for Your Teen
The Treatment Specialist understands the unique needs of a teen who is struggling with substance abuse and/or a mental health condition or mood disorder. Call to connect to a treatment center and talk to a compassionate specialist who will guide your family toward the best treatment option for your teenager, keeping the teen’s specific treatment needs in mind. When asking the question, Can I force my teenager into rehab, understand that the resounding answer is “yes!” For a free assessment and insurance check, please contact (866) 644-7911.