Drug Detox Q & A: If Parents Can Have Their Kids Arrested for Substance Abuse, Why Can't Kids Have Their Parents Busted?

Drug Detox Q & A: If Parents Can Have Their Kids Arrested for Substance Abuse, Why Can't Kids Have Their Parents Busted?

Nearly 70 teenagers with various substance abuse and addiction problems have been forced to check into alcohol and drug detox facilities in the nine months since Canada's Province of Manitoba passed legislation giving parents the power to have their kids arrested for "severe and persistent drug or alcohol abuse." The courts have ordered police to pick up and confine 91 youths, and so far 72 teens have gone through the assessment and appeal process and finished the week-long alcohol or drug detox. The province's new 10-bed drug detox or "stabilization" unit was set up last November after the Youth Drug Stabilization Act began.

Part of new crime-fighting legislation passed last year, it allows parents to apply for a court order forcing their teen into a seven-day treatment program. Of course, it is unlikely that anyone will handle their drug addiction in seven days but desperate parents will try anything. In seven days the kids will go home and, unless they choose to get into a successful drug rehab program, will start abusing drugs or alcohol again. Another pivotal issue not factored into this law revolves around what the kids are going home to. Here in the U.S., it is estimated that more than nine million children live with a parent dependent on alcohol or drugs.

Studies have conclusively shown that parental actions and habits strongly influence the behavior of their children. But this law doesn't address that aspect of the problem. Kids who are substance abusers often come from homes with parents who also abuse drugs or alcohol. The kids may go through drug detox, and rehab, but the success of any alcohol or drug rehab program depends largely on what happens when you get out of detox and go home - the environment and the people in it. Should our laws state that parents who turn their kids in can only keep custody of those children if they, too, go to medical detox and rehab to handle their own substance abuse if there is a problem? Many drug abusers and the vast majority of alcoholics - who outnumber drug addicts by far - aren't breaking any law just by being addicted.

Nevertheless, they are addicted and are often destructive to their kids' lives. Taken in light of the Manitoba law, this makes you wonder if kids should have the same rights as their parents - the right to call the cops on their drug addicted, alcoholic, abusive parents. Drug detox and rehab programs for kids would be a lot more successful if substance abusing parents were also made to do drug detox program so they could get on the road to full recovery and provide an environment that doesn't encourage alcohol and drug abuse.

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