When Is It Time to Admit My Child to a Rehab Facility?

If you think your teen has an addiction or substance abuse problem, you might be wondering if or when you should send them to a teen rehab center. This can be a very hard decision and you want to make sure you are doing the right thing for your teen and your family. 

When a child is 17 years or younger, they can legally be put into a drug rehab center if their parents choose this for them. You might feel like this is a harsh decision and it will make your child mad at you, but there are some instances where it is necessary and it is in the best interest of the child. 

Adopted children with a biological family history of addiction can often experience addiction, side effects, and similar drug use habits as their birth parents. In these cases, rehab is beneficial to allow adoptive parents and children to determine healthy coping and recovery mechanisms. 

How Do I Know If My Kid Has An Addiction Problem? 

The first thing you need to do before putting your child or teen into a rehab facility is determine if they have an addiction or not. Sometimes an addiction is very obvious and other times it can be hard to tell for sure if there is an addiction or not. 

Keep in mind that some of the symptoms of drug abuse and symptoms of mental illnesses often overlap. Many parents believe that their child has a drug problem but really their child is suffering from a mental illness that they feel like they cannot talk about with their family or loved ones. 

Teens often hide substance abuse problems as well as depression from their parents so it can be difficult to know which one your child might actually be dealing with. 

Knowing the signs of addiction and encouraging your teen to talk to you can help. 

Signs of Addiction 

If you think your child might have an addiction, you might have noticed some or all of these signs:

  • A sudden change in friend groups or social circles 
  • Severe mood swings 
  • Decrease in the ability to focus 
  • A sudden drop or change in grades 
  • Weight changes 
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much 
  • Staying out late at night 
  • Acting secretive or withdrawn 
  • Large or small pupils
  • Changes in their health as observed by you or a doctor 
  • Being aggressive 
  • Paranoia and anxiety 
  • Bloodshot eyes 
  • Drug paraphernalia 
  • Being tired and lethargic most of the time 
  • Being very energetic and then suddenly becoming tired and crashing 

As you can see, many of the above signs are also signs of mental health issues which is why it’s very important to seek professional help if you are not sure whether your teen is having an addiction issue or a problem like depression and anxiety. 

Several of the above signs and symptoms can suggest a drug disorder or a drug abuse problem. It might also help to study the signs and symptoms of certain types of drugs depending on if your child may be taking depressants, hallucinogens, and stimulants. 

Keep in mind that some of these signs are also just being a teenager. For example, it’s common for teenagers to sleep more because of all the changes their bodies are going through. Acting withdrawn can also be common simply because the teenager doesn’t want their parents in their business and they want to feel like they are in control of their own lives. 

Drug Abuse Versus Drug Addiction 

Drug abuse and drug addiction are not the same and it’s important to know the differences. Drug abuse is when someone uses an illegal drug. It can also include using prescription drugs in a different way than what a doctor recommends. It can also be excessive use of something legal such as overconsuming alcohol. 

Drug abuse can generally lead to drug addiction. Addiction happens when someone feels like they need the drug to function or live. 

Teens often experience drugs and alcohol which can quickly lead to drug abuse. Once a teen becomes addicted, it can be hard to get them back on track because they might be experiencing withdrawals and cravings. 

This is when an intervention is needed as you will need professionals on your team to be able to do the work with you. Sometimes, loved ones choose to do a direct intervention with loved ones and then treatment is needed if this does not work. 

What is Intervention? 

Even though we mentioned earlier that you can put your teen in a drug rehab center without their consent, it’s best you first do an intervention with them and then see if they willingly go to the treatment center on their own. 

Before doing an intervention, make sure you know about the rehab centers in your area. Make sure to call them and see if they have space for an incoming patient. 

The rehab center should know they are coming this way the teen does not have time to change their mind. Teens can often get very emotional during an intervention and they will agree to go to rehab only to change their mind on the way there. 

You should take the addicted teen to the rehab center as soon as they agree to go and do not allow them time to potentially change their mind or get other ideas in their head. 

Aftercare Treatment 

Your teen will probably be in a rehab center for about 7-10 weeks. Most rehab centers allow family members to visit so make sure you visit as much as you can so your teen knows you are there for them and that you love them. 

There are also many different activities and centers you can take your teen to after they receive treatment where they can meet other teens and learn what to do if they get cravings for drugs.  

You can also attend classes for parents who have teens addicted to drugs as this can teach you how to work with them and be there for them both during their treatment time and after. Family counseling can also be very productive in most cases.