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My Daughter Is Spiraling Out Of Control


​My daughter is spiraling out of control. Within the last week, she has gotten two charges for minor in possession (MIP) of alcohol, as well as charges for trespassing and truancy. Her behavior is out of control, and she is now suspended from school. She is doing drugs and refuses any type of medication, treatment, or counseling that could help her. I did get her to a drug and alcohol evaluation last week — she was high during the evaluation and refused services. I can't force her to get help, but she needs to be in a facility where she can’t run away and can get the help she needs. I'm literally sick over this, but I don't know the next steps to take, except to let her get into more trouble until the court orders her to treatment. Is there anything else I can be doing or checking into?



All of her offenses added up may lead to court ordered treatment, so at this point do not hesitate to report any new infractions to the police. Residential treatment would likely require a substance abuse evaluation even if it is court-directed, but especially if you look into private placement. They truly would need to know the extent of her addiction and start with the least intense level of treatment, with the hope she would improve. She likely will have a court date, so no matter what plan you put into place, the judge may have a say and require additional measures. 

Now that your daughter is suspended, what is the alternative education plan, and what does the monitoring look like? As a protection for both you and your daughter, keep her as close to your hip as possible. That might taking her to work with you, having a grandparent at home to watch over her, and calling the police the minute she leaves home without permission. She may need to do schoolwork from home or attend an alternative school. You should also conduct a full house search for drugs and paraphernalia, and consider confiscating technology she uses to connect with others. Technology is a major issue with youth these days, and even a flip phone is not her right but a privilege that can be taken away based on her behavior.

Your daughter has shown that she cannot be trusted at this time, so eventually you'll need to lay out a plan for how she can rebuild your trust. Again, the judge's order may include some of this, but at home, consider drawing up a contract she must fulfill to earn small amounts of time for trust-building exercises with you. This will help you see whether she can comply with the little things first.

If she is supposed to be taking medication and she is using drugs, they would most likely interfere with the effectiveness of the medication anyway. Once she is at home and not using, taking her daily medication while strictly monitored could be a part of the contract, too.

The only locked facilities are going to be a juvenile detention center or a psychiatric facility with intense level of treatment. Even substance abuse treatment centers for teens usually are not locked facilities because if a client does not want to participate, they are free to leave.  She may look at it differently if it is court-ordered, though.

This should give you a start. If you have additional questions, please let us know or contact our 24/7 hotline at 800-448-3000.