Health

Can a Minor Be Forced to Go to Rehab?

Taking part in AA meeting

During these challenging times, many teenagers often succumb to unhealthy temptations. The number of teens who drink and do drugs are steadily increasing, and this poses a considerable risk not only to their futures but also to the entire community’s welfare. This is particularly alarming nowadays, considering that most of us have had no other choice but to confine ourselves inside our homes for more than a year now.

Fortunately, medical facilities and teen drug rehab centers are becoming more prevalent. They are easy to access and very affordable, providing a great chance for young people to get their lives back on track. Mental and physical health should no longer be taboo topics — which is something that has been a severe issue up to this date.

If you believe that your child might be suffering from drug addiction, alcohol abuse, depression, or any other issues, you should consult an expert or visit a trusted facility. Being able to open up is not just about sharing woes, but the start of a recovery process. Unfortunately, many teenagers who suffer from these issues choose not to talk about it. This is often due to fear of being doubted or ridiculed. This is why we have written this article: to raise awareness regarding teen rehabilitation, and tell you how to help them be brave when facing their problems.

Can Parents Force Their Children to Go to Rehab?

If an adolescent hasn’t reached the age of 18, then they are still a minor. Their parents can lawfully send them to any center, whether it is one for substance abuse, mental health treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, or a detox facility. This can be done even against their will if it is for their benefit. In the United States, minors are not responsible for their own care in the eyes of the law. Their parents or guardians have the capacity to take extreme actions if needed. 

In the United States, once someone turns 18, they can consent to medications and treatments. Note that this rule is not absolute, since parents can still pursue therapy against the patient’s will under certain conditions.

Your Teen is Probably in the Same Boat as Their Peers

You might have already talked to your kid about their unhealthy habits. You might also think that they need professional help to deal with their issues before they get out of hand. Teenagers are known to be impulsive and make risky decisions from time to time. That is why the parents, at some point, should intervene and direct their path. 

A large part of the global population is composed of adolescents, and because of this several adolescent intensive outpatient programs have popped up in Los Angeles. In fact, one-sixth is between the ages of 10-19 years old. It is also worth noting that 50 percent of mental health issues start at the age of 14. We know that the majority of these teenagers do not have access to any kind of help, meaning that their cases will go untreated or undetected. Mental health issues are not a phase in someone’s life. Its effects in teenagers, if not addressed, will extend into adulthood. 

Can You Force a Loved One Into Rehab?

The answer is yes, but it is not as easy as you might think.

The lawful term for this process is called “involuntary commitment for addiction treatment.” This is when a person with mental health issues, or drug abuse problems, is forced to enter a rehab facility against their will. One of the most well-known laws in the region is the “Baker Act.” Under this law, aside from parents or guardians, law enforcers or health experts such as physicians, psychiatrists, and other qualified professionals, can present evidence to support that someone must be immediately sent to rehab to initiate a recovery process.

These are the requirements that must be met in order for a judge to consider committing someone to rehab:

  • The patient must be deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. If the patient has recently committed an act of violence, then the claim is stronger.
  • Evidence must be provided regarding the patient’s inability to behave in a normal way. This might mean medical records stating that the patient is currently mentally ill or in a deteriorating state.

These requirements vary from state to state. A medical officer must provide verifiable evidence that the patient is causing, or could cause, harm to themselves or those closest to them. Specific courts prefer statements from experts in certain medical fields, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, or addiction therapists, rather than physicians.

The Baker Act is rarely used, often due to reticence or a lack of awareness. In fact, a study made in 2015 shows that no more than half of the states where this is legal commonly make use of the Baker Act.

Common Treatment Procedure to Be Provided to the Involuntary Patients

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the treatments are tailored to the patient. A comprehensive set of medications is more effective than relying on a single methodology. Patients are given medications that lessen the cravings, or therapy to manage their addiction or mental health issues.

The patients will participate in a long-lasting recovery process. Just like with any chronic disease, mental health issues and substance abuse needs constant medication. However, current civil laws do not mandate the continuity of such medication after the patient leaves the medical facility. It is up to the court to decide if it is still necessary for the patient to continue their treatment once their detainment ends. Please be aware that there is a considerable chance that the patient will go back to their old way of living after their abstinence inside the rehab facility. This is why constant monitoring and communication with the facility is needed to deter these risks. 

Which States Have Involuntary Commitment Laws for Rehab?

In the United States, 37 states have involuntary commitment laws. However, note that the procedure, requisites, and the duration that a person can be held inside a rehabilitation facility will differ from state to state. The medical procedures, and the decision to have inpatient or outpatient treatment, will also depend on state policies and the situation of the patient and their family.

Here is the list of states that have passed involuntary commitment laws for addiction: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

Some states not included in this list are in the process of debating whether or not to pass this law. Other states also limit involuntary commitment laws to alcohol abuse only, like Montana and Rhode Island. 

Being Vocal Could Solve Things

It is a challenging task to communicate all this to your children or loved ones. That is why partnering with a reliable and experienced teen treatment program will prove to be a major step towards a successful recovery.

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