Your son got caught at school with pot. Your daughter came home last weekend completely wasted. You just learned your son has been using his friend’s Adderall. Your daughter stole your pain medications from your medicine cabinet. Learning that your adolescent is drinking heavily or using drugs can be frightening for parents, especially in this age of addiction hysteria. The knee-jerk reaction by law enforcement, school administrators and parents is to send adolescents who are caught drinking or using drugs to rehab or outpatient addiction treatment. And if they refuse to go, then there are many avenues to force them into treatment against their will. While this practice has become commonplace, follow up studies are virtually non-existent with the few that are done showing extremely poor outcomes. (Some studies even showing that those who attend drug treatment programs fare worse than those who don’t.).

What happens to these kids that are sent to drug rehab? The answer will likely shock you. For the majority, that first rehab stint begins a lifetime of struggle, and sadly is leading more and more to an untimely death.

7 compelling reasons not to send your adolescent to drug rehab or addiction treatment:

  1. Lifelong diagnosis of a non-existent disease: Addiction rehab and addiction treatment will diagnose your adolescent with substance use disorder, more commonly known as addiction. In treatment your child will be forced to believe that they are forever powerless over substances. They will learn the fallacy that drugs and alcohol have the power to enslave them. There is no data whatsoever to support these assertions, and there is a plethora of data to show that heavy, habitual substance use is temporary problem that most people completely overcome without treatment. What’s worse is the reasoning behind the creation of these false disease diagnoses. Know this; the disease theory was originally created to provide a path for health insurance and Medicaid payments for alcohol and drug help services – not because a disease actually exists. Falsely diagnosing a minor (or anyone for that matter) with a disease that does not exist with the motive being the source of revenue to treat said disease, is not only unethical, but begs a serious legal question. Do you want your child be saddled with a lifelong disease that doesn’t actually exist? If not, don’t send him/her to rehab where the disease diagnosis is required for the facility to get paid.
  2. 12 Step indoctrination: the vast majority of addiction treatment in this country whether it’s detox, inpatient rehab or outpatient treatment includes 12 step indoctrination. The 12 step program is rooted in a belief in powerlessness (and was also the origin of the false disease concept mentioned above). The first step is admitting that you are powerless over substances. People are told they should take that first step daily and remind themselves of their lack of power. To remain in recovery teens must attend daily meetings for the rest of their lives. The question becomes why must your son or daughter endlessly repeat the mantra of powerlessness while attending AA or NA meetings, and while they are in rehab as well? The answer is simple, so they become beholden to the 12 step meeting structure they are introduced to in treatment facilities across the nation. AA needs your child to remain a long standing member so as to continue funding their multi-million dollar annual budget at their headquarters in Manhattan NYC. Many people who attend AA find it difficult to Leave the AA Cult, and those who do, often find they need deprogramming from AA to unlearn the false beliefs they learned while attending.
  3. Exposure to criminals including violent felons and sex offenders: It is now common practice to refer violent criminals to rehab and 12 step groups as an alternative to incarceration. While this keeps prison systems from being overloaded, we see that once again, financial factors are placed in front of public safety.
  4. High rates of dual diagnosis and prescribing medications: In the late 90s many states began enacting laws requiring insurance companies to cover mental health care. These laws allowed many people suffering from mental health issues to finally get the care they needed, but it also rapidly increased the rates of dual diagnosing those struggling with substance use problems. Diagnosing a heavy substance user with a co-occurring mental health disorder allows treatment facilities to get larger reimbursements from insurance companies, but it has not improved treatment outcomes for rehab patients. As a matter of fact, the drug problem has only increased in direct proportion to the expansion of treatment facilities and dual diagnosis programs. This is not happenstance – we are creating “addicts” with mental health issues where in the past people were given the freedom to move past their addictions naturally and at much higher rates.
  5. Increased rates of dangerous binge usage post treatment: The outcome data is compelling that people who attend addiction treatment, go to rehab and/or participate in support group meetings have higher rates of dangerous binge usage. Many get into a cycle of periods of abstinence that may last weeks or months, or even years for some, and then periods of extremely heavy, continuous usage. This seems to be true even for those who were not heavily binge using prior to treatment. Treatment teaches people to view a temporary and changeable stage in life as an incurable diagnosis. This is harmful and unethical.
  6. Romanticizing of heavy substance use: If you ask anyone who attends recovery support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous they will tell you that their desire to use is highest right after leaving a meeting. Meetings largely consist of “war stories” that simultaneously glamorize and demonize alcohol and drugs. In both cases, the attendee is provided the myth that drugs and alcohol have a greater power than their free will. This mythology is damaging and a form of belief/religion, and holds no truth in science, research or logic.
  7. Increased likelihood of escalation of usage to more dangerous substances and engaging in riskier behaviors: This is one of the scariest realities of sending your teen to rehab; they will get a comprehensive education about every substance known to man, how to use them, what’s so awesome about them, and why they should try them. And they will also learn in treatment that addiction is progressive and incurable so no matter what they do, they will continue to crave and it will get worse as they get older. This is a virtual double whammy that leads to horrendous outcomes! Additionally, they will meet smart, charismatic people with whom they feel a connection and will want to emulate.

So What Does a Parent Do?

My purpose for writing this article is not to scare you, it’s to provide you with factual information so you can make an informed decision. It’s to help quell your fears about your child’s future and provide you with a viable solution that will produce positive results. It’s important for you to know that regardless of what your adolescent may be doing right now, for nearly everyone these problems are short-lived. Most people work their way through these experiences and life stages and learn from them and move on to lead amazing lives. And they do so without addiction counseling, without addiction treatment and without going to rehab.

There are effective ways to help your teen to navigate through the tough terrain of adolescence and substance use. A true alternative to drug rehab and drug treatment does exist. The Freedom Model for Addictions is an approach unlike any other available today. For parents, I recommend reading The Freedom Model for the Family. It will debunk the immense misinformation and mythology surrounding substance use and addiction. And it will provide you with more effective ways to communicate with your teen and build a relationship based in mutual trust and respect. The only way you can “addiction-proof” your child is by showing them unequivocally that they always maintain control over their thoughts, behaviors and their life choices. They are the ones in control and always have been!