I need to get my child into treatment


Whether your concern is that your teen is smoking too much pot on the weekends or if your young adult child has an addiction to heroin, realizing that your son or daughter needs outside help to overcome their substance use issue can be frightening and overwhelming. Chances are you have no idea where to begin, or what “treatment” actually entails.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer and it may take time and research to determine what type of help is best for your child. We’re here to help you navigate each step of the way to get your child making on the road to recovery.


Getting your child on board

It can be incredibly frustrating for you to so clearly see that a loved one needs help for substance use or addiction while they deny there’s a problem. Some people will tell you that your child needs to “hit rock bottom<” or “has to want to get help” in order for treatment to even be part of the picture. The truth is, for many individuals, this simply isn’t true.

The key is to listen for “change talk” — any expression of a willingness to improve their circumstances. Even if your loved one expresses just a little willingness to be honest about the fact that their substance use is negatively affecting their life, it’s an opportunity to start a real conversation.

The following resources will help teach you how.

Treatment basics

While TV and film usually portray ‘treatment’ for substance use as a residential rehab facility, this represents only one form of addiction treatment. At its core, addiction treatment must help individuals to stop using substances, sustain their abstinence, and to have a productive family, work and social life.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse identifies a number of key principles that should form the basis of any treatment program. These are as follows:

While there may be no ‘perfect’ treatment available and you may experience waiting lists or financial constraints, there are still a number of steps to consider when first looking into getting your teen help. It can be overwhelming and it’s difficult to know where to start. The following resources will help.

What to watch out for

Against the backdrop of an epidemic, addiction treatment has unfortunately become a lucrative opportunity for those preying upon vulnerable families. Some parents have children who have become victims of the ‘patient brokering’ system, a network of kickback schemes in which brokers receive compensation for referring patients to specific treatment facilities — often those who do not provide quality treatment at all.

Learning how to navigate the treatment system can be a difficult process. However, if you do your research, ask for help, network, and ask the right questions, you can be your child’s best advocate.

How do I deal with the stress and anxiety, and stay hopeful?

You have probably heard a mountain of advice, tips and techniques for communicating with your child. However, you may not have heard specifically about an approach called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT).

CRAFT is a different approach to communication which is scientifically proven to help parents change their child’s substance use. It provides parents with tools to alter the way in which they interact with their child to influence their substance use behavior.

Additional resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations manages the most comprehensive tools for locating treatment providers and programs.