Drugs and alcohol play into the majority of adolescent crimes, which is why so many teens are sentenced to rehab instead of jail time. Plain and simple, treatment is a lot more productive than prison. Since the mid-1990s, the number of teenagers admitted to rehab has increased by over 60 percent, and more than 50 percent of those teenage admissions are court-ordered.
Still, the concept of mandatory addiction treatment remains a topic of debate. For one, people often mistake it as letting the teen off the hook for their crime. Secondly, it interferes with a popular, yet false refrain: That in order to benefit from rehab, you have to seek it out willingly.
Court-Ordered Rehab For Teens
Court-ordered rehab is an expensive operation, but for good reason — Studies show that it does indeed help, much more-so than the alternative. Of six adolescent treatment centers in Wisconsin, it was reported that 71 percent of court-ordered clients completed their program with significant improvements in behavioral patterns, and 71 percent were happy with their progress. Not only does court-ordered rehab for teens work, but it appears to work even better than adult rehab—which is why so many experts stress early intervention as the key to preventing crime in the US: addiction leads to crime.
Few drug or alcohol addicts attend rehab all on their own accord — If it’s not the justice system that nudges them, it’s being faced with an ultimatum from loved ones, getting kicked out of the house, hitting rock bottom, or simply realizing that they will either quit using drugs or die. There’s an upside to being an impressionable teenager with rapid emotions: building optimism and motivation can be easy if you’re properly guided.
The statistics seem grueling — While most teens seem to benefit from rehab, less than half stay clean for the long-term. Critics of court-ordered rehab system often argue that addicts don’t retain their motivation once treatment is over. In a sense, they’re correct: Most recovering addicts relapse after they end their treatment—which is why treatment should never end. After completing rehab, you’re supposed to maintain sobriety exercises–like group meetings–for the foreseeable future. The sad fact is that many recoverees lose steam after just a month or two. They feel cured, so why continue?
Those who maintain relapse-prevention strategies for the long term have much better odds of staying sober — The mandatory side of the treatment isn’t meant to be the solution–just a much-needed push in the right direction. Aftercare programs — therapy sessions, 12 step programs, and support groups — are seldom court-ordered. It’s up to the teen and their family to make sure the treatment continues.
Yes, you probably know someone who did all the right things and still wound up back in the clinic. Even hardworking, motivated teens can relapse–but that doesn’t mean the system is flawed. Relapses happen. Even the strongest desire to quit can be trumped by a stressful experience like a breakup or a heated fight with parents. When it happens, it’s an indicator that the teen should continue his or her treatment, and with more veracity–not that the treatment doesn’t work.
Adolescent Addiction Treatment is a successful alternative to the dangers of active addiction and court-ordered programs can work for endangered teens. It’s important for an adolescent to continue treatment with aftercare programs after rehab to ensure lasting success. Contact Sustain Recovery for information to help you and your family on this journey.