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Can Your Parents Force You to Go to Rehab?

Juvenile drug rehab

Did you know that the word “teenager” comes from the Latin word tenagura, which means “pushing boundaries” and “liberation from parental control?”

OK, so that is not really true, but it could be.

After all, it seems like most of teenagers’ time at home is spent locking horns with their parents over something or other, and it is usually related to the timeless adolescent desire for more independence. When push comes to shove (figuratively), every parent typically has the legal right to compel minor children to accede to his or her wishes.

Does that include forcing teens into rehab? Short answer: It depends on where you live.

Where Can Teens Be Involuntarily Committed?

The legislative term for teens being enrolled in juvenile drug rehabilitation programs against their will is called involuntary commitment. According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NASMDL), here is a map of the states where teens can be involuntarily committed to a drug treatment program:

Juvenile drug rehab

In all, 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws in place which allow parents to commit their minor children to a substance abuse rehab center. The states where teens cannot be forced into rehab are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

In addition, teens in Montana and Rhode Island can be involuntarily committed for alcoholism (but not drug abuse), while Vermont teens can be forced into drug rehab (but not an alcohol treatment center).

The Circumstances of Involuntary Commitment

Every state that has involuntary commitment laws on the books has its own standard for what constitutes alcoholism or drug abuse. These thresholds, which differ from state to state, prevent parents from arbitrarily claiming that their teens are addicts just to get them out of the house.

Generally speaking, parents must be able to prove that their teen is indeed addicted to alcohol or drugs in order to put teens into rehab against their wishes. In addition, most states generally require evidence that the rehab entrant has “inflicted, attempted, or threatened” physical harm to himself/herself or someone else.

Involuntary Commitment And Teens’ Rights

It is important to know that involuntarily committed teens do have some rights under the law. For example, if they wish to challenge the commitment in court, they have the right to an attorney represent their interests. This attorney can be appointed by the court if the teen cannot afford to hire one.

The teen can also ask his or her attorney to petition for what is known as a writ of habeas corpus at any point during commitment. This is a legal order which asks a judge to determine whether the teen’s detention is lawful; if the answer is no, then the teen must be released immediately.

When Can Teens Come Home?

The length and type of rehab also vary widely by state. Usually, the commitment period lasts between two days and two weeks, though these can often be increased if a judge believes that further treatment is warranted. Some states allow the substance abuse treatment to take place at an outpatient facility, which means that the teen can remain at home if he or she completes the required treatment regimen.

If you want a more direct answer to this question, you should read up on the involuntary commitment laws of your particular state. (A synopsis by state can be found here.) Keep in mind that even if the law does not allow your parents to force you into rehab, they can still legally take other measures to convince you to enter a drug treatment program. These may include revoking privileges, refusing to provide bail money, or taking away cars, smartphones, or other property.

In a perfect world, a dispute over whether a teenager should be placed in a juvenile drug rehabilitation program should never progress to threats of involuntary commitment. Keeping lines of communication open with your parents and actively working toward solutions to problems can prevent ultimatums of this nature from being issued.

Because whether or not you agree with your parents and their opinion about rehab, continuous friction and escalating battles over this issue can lead to a relationship that is permanently damaged. That is not a good situation for anyone.

If you are a teen who wants more information about rehab, contact us today. We have a staff of compassionate addiction specialists who can answer your questions.

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