Many of us have a stubborn streak. It’s hard to admit to a mistake, a fault or indiscretion. An essential part of the 12-step recovery program is for an addict to acknowledge that there is a problem with drugs or alcohol. It’s hard to own one’s unfortunate circumstances, misgivings and lack of accountability for a life gone out of control. And for a teenager or millennial – it can be an annoying and excruciating process. Imagine being a parent of one such young adult.

With the increased rate of heroin addiction, a byproduct of the prescription opioid epidemic in this country, I thought it a good idea to examine the mindset of younger addicts and what the potential risks are in fighting the admission of addiction and how it could affect the likelihood of treatment and associated risks for relapse.

Behavioral Choice Is a Far Cry from Mandatory Treatment

forced rehabIf you have a young adult who is overusing drugs or alcohol and its affecting day-to-day interactions of the family and jeopardizing college graduation or a blossoming career – as a parent, it’s frustrating to watch because, in essence, it feels like your hands are tied. Because they are of age, 18 is the legal age of adulthood in the United States, forcing your son or daughter to do anything they don’t want to do is futile.

Law Is on Your Side When…

Often, the subsequent downward spiral that comes with increasing codependence of drugs will include loss of finances, employment, friends, family and trust. Parents can feel obligated to enable addiction in their loved ones to alleviate a sense of guilt or lessen the emotional rollercoaster brought into the family dynamic. It’s a temporary band-aid on a physical and mental health wound that will continue to fester until something or someone puts it to an end.

The best scenario is if the addict is worn and tired of the addiction and loss it brings, falling destitute, he or she decides to seek treatment. As a parent, isn’t there another option rather than waiting to hear a son or daughter hit rock bottom? Some states have laws that allow a parent, spouse or other relative to petition the court in hopes to prove that the addict is a danger to themselves or someone else, necessitating mandatory treatment. This would be a state-specific inquiry best addressed with a family law attorney in your area.

Crimes committed to obtain a drug of choice can result in incarceration, with court ordered drug treatment as part of the sentencing. Reluctantly perhaps, the treatment process begins. If any person is forced or coerced to do something (kicking and screaming) what is the likelihood that being open to its benefits are possible?

There aren’t many scientific studies that monitored or measured the effectiveness of court-mandated drug treatment and recovery. However, an article published in The International Journal of Drug Policy examined the findings in research from across the globe on compulsory treatments for drug use. The results showed little difference between people who were forced to undergo treatment compared to those who received addiction treatment through controlled intervention.

The Power of Consequences During Recovery

When we teach a child the do’s and don’ts of certain behaviors and actions, most parents use a cause-and-effect methodology, for every action there is a consequence. During active drug use disorder or alcoholism, the brain does not function optimally. Simple decision-making and weighing risks vs. rewards are off kilter as the addict’s sole concern is to feed the addiction and minimize pain. It isn’t until the initial phase of drug treatment, detox, that the body and the brain begin to cleanse from toxic levels. After a few days, weeks or months, the addict (now patient) is open to understanding the consequences of their behavior, opening their mind to a road of recovery. This is when cognizant change begins to happen.

If you have an adult child that is in recovery or has completed a drug treatment program, how much did their personal accountability have a hand in the process? Consider the following list to gage the level of accountability and how it may impact their sobriety success rate:

  1. Did the financial cost of drug or alcohol treatment in any way come out of your child’s pocket?
  2. If you paid for the program at all, are you asking your child to pay it back or pay it forward?
    (in monetary form or by working it off)
  3. Was there ownership of the behaviors or ill treatment to others and communications made to make amends?

These are just some of the ways that allow a person to put skin in the game with personal drug rehab. It’s a form of investing in oneself. By doing so, it provides a foundation for the patient to build upon – a sense of believing in oneself again from the ground up. With each new day of recovery and subsequent sobriety, it creates value and personal gain. Now there is success to hold on to and something to lose should relapse occur.

What’s interesting to note is that many drug rehab owners don’t see much of a difference in the success rate of patients who entered their facilities because of court ordered drug treatment or an otherwise forced rehab.

On a broader perspective, all of us fare better in life when we put some skin in the game. It isn’t just about being there but how you show up. Fully present and ready to make things happen.

Get Help for Your Adult Child Struggling with Drug Addiction

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007.  Call  888-512-1705.

Melanie SternAuthored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

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