My Child Needs Treatment, But Refuses to Get Help. What Should I Do?

We work with a special group of moms and dads – Parent Coaches – who, just like you, have been affected by a child’s substance use. They are volunteers who receive special training from the Partnership and our clinical partner in order to help other families through similar struggles. In these blog posts, they answer parents’ most frequent questions.

In most cases, unless your child is considered a danger to himself or others, he cannot be forced into treatment. You may believe that his drug use poses a danger to himself as you witness the consequences for his use, but that is not enough to force treatment even if your child is not over the age of 18.

Community Reinforcement and Family Training, or CRAFT, is an approach family members can use to help motivate behavior change in a loved one who is using substances. It uses specific strategies and tools to encourage reduced substance use and to engage a child in treatment, while attending to your own self-care. You can learn more about CRAFT and other tools within the Get Help & Support area of this site.

Sometimes rather than telling a person they need to be abstinent, suggesting help to get them to cut back can work. Even though this may not be the ultimate goal, it does get them into treatment and discussing how drugs and alcohol are impacting their lives.

The “back door” approach focuses on another problem the person might be experiencing such as anxiety, depression or insomnia. Some people will agree to treatment with a problem other than their substance use, although at some point, this is likely to be discussed in treatment.

If there is a danger to self or others as defined by the courts, civil commitment laws can be invoked to mandate treatment. In the U.S., 38 states have laws that permit civil commitment to inpatient or outpatient substance-abuse treatment programs. An additional 8 states have a form of involuntary treatment, such as emergency hospitalization due to substance-related concerns. The commitment process varies from state to state, so it’s important to look into what specifically is required for mandated treatment.

Would you like to connect with one of our Specialists for one-on-one help and learn more about Parent Coaching? Email us to get started.

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