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Don’t Delay Sending Your Teen to Treatment: Unwillingness

June 21, 2016

 Sending Your Teen to Treatment

This blog was co-written by our Director of Family Services, Kari Bouldin, MA, LMFT.

One of the most common reasons parents delay sending their teen to treatment is because their child is unwilling to attend. While this is an expected reaction from a teenager who is abusing drugs or alcohol, it should not stop parents from getting their son or daughter the help they desperately need. The earlier teens begin abusing addictive substances and the longer they use before receiving treatment greatly influences the likelihood of them developing a full-blown addiction later in life. Intervening early and receiving the proper treatment will provide your child with the best chance of having a healthy life. 

Teen Substance Abuse

Compassion vs. Condemnation

Once you’ve established that your teen is in need of substance abuse treatment, it’s important to approach them with compassion. While as the parent it is ultimately your decision, possibly creating or adding to a power struggle with your teen will not make this process easier. It’s important to share your worries and fears about what is happening in their lives. Use phrases such as, “I fear that…” or “I am worried that…” A compassionate approach is more likely to create a healthy interaction rather than one filled with blame and condemning. 

Break Through Denial

It is likely that your teen does not realize the extent of their abuse and the fact they need help. They have probably made excuses such as, “I can stop whenever I want,” or “I don’t use as much as my friends do.” In addition, your son or daughter may not realize the dangers of the drugs they are using. For example, a common belief is that using marijuana will not contribute or lead to an addiction, which is not the case. These conversations create the opportunity to discuss how their drug or alcohol use has begun affecting their major life domains such as education, personal relationships, family relationships and work. Addressing these concerns may help your teen see what is happening. 

Narrow Their Choices

Instead of allowing your teen to influence whether or not they are going to attend treatment, approach them with the choices they do have. It’s okay to recognize that they have been given multiple chances to improve their behavior, but now it is time to seek outside help. Let them know what choices they are able to make, which may include: 

  • What clothes do you want to take?
  • Would you prefer a morning or night time flight?
  • Who would you like to drive you?

Allowing your child to be part of the decision-making process will make them feel like they have some control over what is happening to them. 

Perform an Intervention

If your child remains adamant about not attending treatment because they believe they don’t need help, you may want to try an intervention. By bringing together your child’s closest loved ones it will be easier to address what is happening and make a larger impact. This may include additional family members, friends (if appropriate), coaches and teachers. With multiple voices encouraging your teen to receive help, they are more likely to recognize the seriousness of their behaviors. Before doing an intervention, you must be prepared to not only lay out consequences if your child continues to deny treatment, but also to follow through with them. 

Court-ordered Treatment

Unfortunately, some situations get to the point where court-ordered treatment may be necessary in order to protect your child from hurting themselves or others. It’s important to be aware that the court-ordered treatment may not be to a facility of your choice. Be sure to look into all of your options and understand the process before moving forward.

Making the decision to send your child to substance abuse treatment is far from easy, and their reaction to this request may cause you to question your judgement. However, if your child is abusing drugs and/or alcohol, it’s imperative that you intervene as early as possible to avoid a worse outcome in the future.  

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If your child is in need of treatment for drugs and alcohol, reach out to us today at (844)319-5239. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about Teen Treatment Center. 

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