Teens and Court-Ordered Addiction Treatment: 14 Things Parents Should Know
It is the news that no parent wants to hear. Your teenage child has been arrested on drug charges or has been found by the police while he or she was high on drugs, impaired by alcohol, or both.
While this may be a setback for your teen, it is not the end of the world. Rather than opting for incarceration, most jurisdictions prefer to refer juveniles to diversion programs which involve court-ordered addiction treatment. The hope is that once your teen completes these programs, he or she will be able to make better choices going forward.
Here are 14 important points you should know about court-ordered treatment:
- It can be mandated when a juvenile is arrested for drug possession or trafficking. Other criteria include the individual being impaired or intoxicated at the time he or she was arrested.
- Teen treatment differs from adult treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every juvenile offender who is addicted to drugs or alcohol deserves a chance to undergo treatment or receive an intervention.
- Agencies try to work together to decide the best way forward. The judge, prosecutor, family, and treatment providers often coordinate to figure out the ideal balance of treatment, discipline, and outcome goals.
- Juvenile courts embrace a case management approach for each teen offender. The ultimate aims tend to focus on education, family counseling, and accountability for both your teen and your entire family.
- The teen’s family is largely responsible for the costs of these programs. These may include drug rehab, counseling sessions, and room and board at a residential center or halfway house.
- The teen may require inpatient drug treatment. If the court demands this, then your teen may have to receive his or her treatment at a licensed facility for 30 to 90 days (or longer), depending on the circumstances.
- The teen will be tested for drugs – randomly and frequently. This is true even for juveniles who are receiving outpatient drug treatment and/or are living at home.
- Counseling and therapy are usually required. Your teen may have to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, 12-step based meetings, and educational programs about drug and alcohol abuse.
- The teen may be placed under intense supervision. This may require frequent reporting to an assigned probation counselor or even mandatory attendance at daily reporting centers for educational purposes or social service programs.
- These treatment arrangements may also contain other requirements. If appropriate, your teen may be ordered to perform community service, wear an electronic monitoring device, and/or engage in vocational training or work release programs.
- Sometimes, teen treatment can take place inside juvenile detention centers. Often called Residential Drug Abuse Programs (RDAPs), these federally-administered programs separate enrollees from the rest of the prison population and teens undergo an intense, months-long regimen of therapy, treatment, and education or work.
- Teens can refuse to accept court-ordered treatment options. But if they do, they will probably be required to serve a sentence that is applicable to the crime they committed.
- Teens who violate the terms of their drug treatment arrangements may be forced to serve the remainder of their sentence behind bars. Violations include testing positive for alcohol or drugs, failing to attend therapy or counseling sessions, not completing other aspects of their program, or committing another crime during the treatment arrangement.
- The effectiveness of court-ordered treatment largely depends on attitude and perseverance. If the teen is willing to participate in his or her treatment program, then he or she is less likely to relapse in the future or commit another crime and more likely to complete his or her education, find a job, and lead a healthier and happier life.
For troubled teens, the road to recovery may seem difficult. But with the proper guidance from family members and a receptiveness to accept change and improve themselves, court-ordered treatment can be the catalyst which turns teens’ lives around – and helps them get back on track.
For more information on drug treatment programs for teens, contact us.